Last week’s Wednesday Post featured an overview of how to buy groceries package-free and the myriad of bulk foods available. This week I’m taking you up close and personal with one of my absolute favorite bulk cooking ingredients: the chick pea (a.k.a. garbanzo bean). So why should you get to know chick peas?
Chick Peas are grown in Minnesota, and can be locally sourced all through the long winter. Use these fantastic staples to reduce your food miles and eat local year round.
The nutritional profile of chick peas is out of this world. One cup is packed with minerals; providing 26% RDA iron, 29% protein, 50% fiber, 85% manganese, and a host other nutrients while commandeering only 14% of your recommended daily calories.
New studies suggest that chick peas help your body regulate blood fat and blood sugar; this may be why chick peas are a natural appetite suppressant. Fear not these healthy carbs.
Chick peas are a cheap, healthy source of protein. Favoring plant based proteins in your diet is great for longevity, for reducing your waistline, for reducing your carbon footprint, reducing pollution, and the reducing overfishing of the oceans. Go earth-crazy and bring your own bag for the package-free organic variety.
The lovely chick pea is versatile and can be used to make yummy vegetarian meals that are extra satisfying.
I cannot tell a lie. Chick peas take a long time to cook. But I adore starting with the dry beans instead of canned. They taste better, and I hate unnecessary packaging. My simple strategy: when I make chick peas I always cook extra for multiple dishes. You can freeze cooked chick peas for months, but normally I keep them in my fridge to use within the next week. For many years I’ve been cooking two cups (dry) chick peas at a time which yields enough for a large batch of soup and hummus. But in the past few months I’ve kicked it up a notch–cooking four cups (dry) chickpeas at a time, which is enough for hummus, falafel, and soup. I’ve also branched into chick pea pastas. Basically, I can’t get enough of chick peas.
Cooking chick peas is not an exact science. It depends on the age of the bean and the heat of the flame. To begin, I usually use the quick soak method.
Put 2-4 cups of chick peas in a pot with double that amount of water. Bring to a boil, and turn off heat. Allow to soak for one hour. The alternative for those who think ahead is to rinse and soak the chick peas overnight before cooking.
Once your chicks are either soaked overnight or quick soaked, simmer on low to medium heat. They generally take around 2 or 2.5 hours to cook, you will need to check the water level occasionally to make sure they don’t boil dry.
Maybe start tasting them after around 1.5 hours of simmering. Keep in mind they seem slightly softer when they are hot, and regain some firmness when they cool down. Generally you want them more al dente for soups or pastas, softer for hummus. I try to get them right in between. Don’t stress, it’s difficult to completely overcook chick peas. Just make sure to keep adding water so they don’t boil dry.
If you have several hours, the crock pot is the easiest way to cook chick peas. No soaking necessary! Put in 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of chickpeas (rinse them first), and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 5-6 hours. Reserve that broth for soup stock! Let me doubly emphasize, you do not need to pre-soak them for this method.
I have not tried this yet, but a pressure cooker yields much quicker results. Check out dad cooks dinner.
10 cups of chick peas
This week I cooked 4 cups (dry) chick peas, which yielded nearly 10 cups cooked. What did I do with all those chick peas?
Day 1: Hummus
My first move is to make a large batch of hummus. So easy. For years I just winged it but a few months ago I normalized a recipe which makes it even easier. This makes a big batch:
4 cups cooked chick peas
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tahini
4 TBS olive oil
1 TBS tamari soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp cumin
Juice + pulp of one lemon (about 3 TBS)
2 TBS Cider Vinegar
Add water to desired consistency (2-4 TBS)
I chop the garlic in my food processor first, and then add all the other ingredients. Blend and add water to desired consistency. I include the pulp of the lemon because I like extra lemon taste.
I don’t fancy buying pocket/pita bread because it always comes in a plastic bag. I have found three places where I can bring my own bag for bread: Lund’s Uptown for baguettes (I find their artisan breads underwhelming), Rustica bakery for chewy sourdough Miche, or my current favorite: Pumpernickel from the Wedge, baked Saturdays and Sundays only. Change it up!
Jazz it up
Rotate your breads and garnishes to keep hummus a fresh dining experience.
•Sautee strips of portabella with chopped green onions and balsamic vinegar for a hummus topping. Serve on french bread. So decadent!
•Use this simple dressing to make an asian type slaw of red cabbage or chopped kale. It’s good as a garnish or topping. So fresh!
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 TBS tamari soy sauce
2 cloves crushed garlic
1-2 TBS of honey or maple syrup
Toss with kale or red cabbage. For extra flair add a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. The salad is good for 2 days.
Day 2: Soup
After setting aside 4 more cups of chick peas for falafel, I was left with a mason jar of chick peas and broth. From reading the blog of another chick pea fan, I finally wised up and saved the broth for soup.
It is easy to improvise a soup with whatever you have on hand–especially if you have a good broth to start out with. The chick pea broth had thickened in the fridge overnight, and took on an almost gravy-like quality. Usually I favor heavy seasonings, but the simple taste of this soup with lightly cooked veggies totally hit the spot. It tasted like super fresh chicken noodle soup (without the chicken or noodles!)
Improvised Fresh Soup with Chick Peas
1 jar of leftover chick peas and broth
1 diced carrot
1 chopped celery stalk
3 leaves chopped dino (lacinato) kale
4 chopped Wisconsin grown green garlic stalks
1 bunch Minnesota grown green top onions
1 cube Rapunzel salt free bullion
1 tsp chopped jalapeno
1 tsp grated ginger
salt to taste- start with 1/2 tsp
1 TBS olive oil
Directions: Lightly sautee all veggies except kale in olive oil (5min). Add beans, broth, kale, bullion, salt and simmer for 10 minutes. That’s it!
Day 3: Falafel
On day 3 it is time to use those chick peas I set aside for falafel. I use the Moosewood Cookbook recipe, which you can follow here. But I amp it up with extra onions, garlic, lemon juice, parsley and heavier seasonings. I reduce the water added because of the extra lemon juice and onions.
Here’s the more heavily seasoned version I came up with:
7 medium cloves garlic
I full bunch of curly parsley finely minced, stems included
Juice and pulp of one lemon (about 3 TBS)
1 TBS water, or more if necessary
3 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup flour
Prepare according to Moosewood directions. Serve with Moosewood Lemon-Tahini sauce (but I recommend cutting the batch of sauce in half or third–it makes a lot!) Falafel is great open faced on pumpernickel with Lemon-Tahini sauce and hot sauce.
Another great way to serve it is without bread, on top of a kale salad.
That concludes my 3 day journey with 10 cups of chick peas, but the story could have had many happy endings. One of my favorite recipes is the Garbanzo Bean and Lentil Soup, which has kind of an Indian flair and was featured here in the Wednesday Post.
Try Moosewood’s fantastic tabouli recipe, adding chick peas to turn this salad into a meal.
Add chickpeas to spaghetti sauce for faux meatballs.
Experiment with endless varieties of soups, sandwiches, curries, and pastas!
Thanks for eating chick peas, and for reading the Wednesday Post.