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What Are Chickpeas?
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are among the first legumes ever cultivated by ancient civilizations. As a member of the Fabaceae family, or pea family, chickpeas are an incredibly important and versatile source of protein worldwide, especially throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
You can blend the cooked beans into hummus, grind them into flour to make various snacks, like falafel, or socca, a flatbread, or simmer them in a stew like Indian chana masala or chickpea curry. For a quick side dish or light lunch, roast or pan-fry the beans until they are crispy or tuck them into green salads for an extra boost of protein. The cooking liquid found in canned chickpeas, called aquafaba, is a popular vegan substitute for egg whites.
4 Tips for Cooking Chickpeas
Most chickpea recipes will call for canned (drained) chickpeas, but with a little extra time and planning, it’s easy to cook dried chickpeas to suit your needs:
- Use the quick-soak method. If you don’t have 12 hours to let the chickpeas soak, you can cut the process down to two hours with the quick-soak method: Rinse the dried chickpeas and place them in a large pot. Cover them with a few inches of water, and bring the water to a boil. Cover, and remove from the heat. Let the soaked beans stand for 1 hour. Drain the pot, and cook the beans in a large pot of simmering water for an additional hour until they’re tender.
- Use baking soda. Adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the soaking water can also speed up the soaking process, helping to tenderize the chickpeas by softening their outer skin and making them more absorbent.
- Use a pressure cooker. If you’re especially short on cooking time, a pressure cooker allows you to skip the soak entirely. For an al dente chickpea similar to the consistency of canned options, combine 1 cup of chickpeas with 4 cups of water, and cook on high pressure for 40 minutes. Let the pressure release for 20 minutes.
- Cook them like dried beans. When cooking the chickpeas, add a pinch of kosher salt and some aromatics to the pot for a whole new layer of complexity. Think smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves, or shallots.
How to Cook Chickpeas
Before soaking dried chickpeas, look through the batch, remove any bits of debris or stones that made their way into the mix, then rinse them.
- Soak. Place chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water. Soak the chickpeas on the countertop overnight, or at least 12 hours before you plan to use them.
- Cook. To cook chickpeas on the stovetop, drain the soaked chickpeas, and discard the soaking water (or use it to water a few houseplants). Transfer the beans to a large pot and cover them with twice the amount of water: So if you’re cooking 1 cup of chickpeas, use 2 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for 1 hour, or until the chickpeas are tender.
- Drain and use. Drain the cooked chickpeas, and use them in any one of your favorite recipes. They will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for just a few days, so only make a big batch if you know you’ll use them.
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