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Top 5 Ways to Use Chickpeas

Top 5 Ways to Use Chickpeas

Learn how to put chickpeas to good use in your kitchen, from dried chickpeas to canned chickpeas, with my Top 5 Ways to Use Chickpeas guide, including cooking tips and healthy chickpeas recipes.

Chickpeas! So much history, nutrition, good taste, and versatility in each tiny pea. I promise, you can come to my kitchen any time of the week and find at least one form of chickpeas. You’ll probably find dried chickpeas, canned chickpeas, hummus, chickpea patties, roasted chickpeas, and even chickpea chips! But chickpeas have been celebrated since the beginning of time, and with good reason. These sustainable pulses are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and can be a key source of good nutrition in your diet. Eating more chickpeas can provide a multitude of benefits. So, learn more about how to include chickpeas in your diet in this guide. And check out my Instagram video on cooking with chickpeas here.

Freshly harvested green chickpeas for salt at the Chania farmers market in Crete, Greece.

Chickpeas History

These earthy, little round pulses date back 10,000 years ago in the Mediterranean basin, and they were one of the original neolithic founder crops. Chickpeas enjoyed huge popularity among ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans before explorers brought them to countries all over the world. It’s easy to see how the beloved chickpea has inspired so many great dishes in so many different cultures, from Chana Masala in Indian cuisine to hummus in Middle Eastern cuisine. The above photo shows fresh chickpeas sold by the bundle at the farmers market in Crete, Greece. On that warm summer day several years ago, I wished that I had a kitchen to bring those lovely “bouquets” back to. Chickpeas can actually be enjoyed green—which means they are picked fresh and have a “greener” taste and texture than when they are dried. When you buy dried chickpeas in the store, they have been harvested and simply sun-dried. All you have to do is rehydrate (soak) and cook them. Canned chickpeas are simply dried chickpeas that have been cooked with water and maybe some salt in the can, so they are a healthy choice too. What’s the deal with garbanzo beans vs chickpeas? These are the same pulse—just different names for it. So feel free to use chickpeas in a garbanzo recipe and garbanzos in a chickpea recipe. There are even different varieties of chickpeas—learn more about black chickpeas here.

Shawarma Bulgur Salad Bowl with Black Chickpeas

Chickpeas Nutrition

There’s a good reason to fall in love with chickpeas, as they are filled with plant protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and a host of phytochemicals linked with health protection. Research shows that people who eat chickpeas and/or hummus—the nutrient-dense dip or spread made from chickpeas—have been shown to have higher nutrient intakes of dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and iron, compared to people who don’t eat them. Emerging research also suggests that chickpeas and hummus may be beneficial in weight management, glucose and insulin regulation, and may even have a positive impact on some markers of cardiovascular disease. So, what are my favorite ways to enjoy chickpeas? I’ve got you covered with these Top 5 Ways to Use Chickpeas.

Top 5 Ways to Use Chickpeas

Hummus with Green Peas adds a twist to classic chickpea hummus along with more fiber, protein, and phytochemicals from peas.

1. Whiz Chickpeas into Hummus

I love that hummus is now a mainstream part of our daily lives. In fact, I recommend that you keep some in your fridge at all times, as it’s a great nutrient-rich spread or topping for sandwiches, salads, whole grain crackers, and wraps. You can make your own classic chickpea hummus so quickly, too. And it’s so fun to get inventive, because you can make hummus with just about anything added to the mix (pumpkin, beets, avocado…the sky’s the limit)! Try my Avocado Cilantro Hummus, for starters. And check out my video on how to make four-way hummus here.

Include chickpeas in global, traditional recipes, such as this Instant Pot Chickpea Curry.

2. Go Global with Chickpeas

These little gems work so well in global, traditional cuisine, including African, Mediterranean, and Indian dishes. Try this Indian-inspired Chana Masala, Vegetable Tagine, and Chickpea Tabbouleh to get going.

These Magic Banana Nut Pancakes are made with chickpea flour and aquafaba—no eggs!

3. Save that Liquid!

The leftover liquid from a can of chickpeas—called aquafaba—is all the rage! This liquid can be whipped into a meringue-like texture that can replace eggs in baking. Yes, that’s right! In fact, I made these Magic Banana Nut Pancakes out of chickpea flour and aquafaba—no eggs or gluten in this delicious recipe. Learn more about making aquafaba here.

Try a variety of roasted chickpeas—you can buy them already roasted, or make them yourself.

4. Roast ‘em Up!

I am in love with roasted chickpeas! They are so easy to prepare: just place cooked or canned chickpeas on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and your favorite spices, and roast in the oven until they are slightly crunchy. Then pop them in your mouth as snacks. Check out my recipe for roasting chickpeas in my book Plant-Powered for Life. And try a variety of chickpea products in your supermarket aisle, including roasted chickpeas, chickpea chips, and chickpea pasta.

Chickpeas are so versatile in savory dishes, such as this recipe for Easy Oven-Baked Falafels. 

5. Use Chickpeas as the Base of Meals

The mild flavor and color of chickpeas means they can be the backbone of so many dishes, including falafels, chili, stews, vegan meat balls, grain bowls, and even a faux tuna salad. Try a Moroccan Chickpea Sorghum Bowl, which features chickpeas as the plant protein star in a grain bowl.

Green and Gold Brown Rice Salad

Check out some of my favorite chickpea recipes in this collection of Top 10 Plant-Based Chickpea Recipes for even more ideas on cooking with this versatile pulse.

And don’t forget to check out my video for Vegan Chickpea Salad Sandwiches, which features chickpeas.

Get to more about how to use whole plant foods in your diet with some of top Plant Foods 101 Guides:

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Top 5 Ways to Use Brown Rice
How to Use Fresh Turmeric Root in the Kitchen
How to Use Blackberries
Guide to Mango Health Benefits
How to Use Sweet Potatoes

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