My family loves chickpeas, and now that warmer weather is upon us, we have shifted away from our winter chickpea staples (such as Spicy African Yam Soup) towards lighter, more summery fare. Whenever I cook chickpeas, I like to prepare them in 2 or 3 super-simple ways. Yesterday, those 3 ways were: chickpea salad, hummus, and roasted chickpeas.
Now that I know how easy it is to cook chickpeas (and other legumes) in a slow cooker, not to mention how much better they taste, I can’t believe I spent the better part of 40 years buying them in a can. Yesterday morning, I tossed 2 cups of dried chickpeas, about 7 cups of water, and 1/4 tsp of baking soda into my slow cooker, then set it to HIGH for 4 hours. My chickpeas were done cooking after about 3.5 hours, and the 2 cups of dried chickpeas yielded about 5 cups cooked, so I drained and separated them into 3 batches: 2 cups for the salad, 2 cups for the hummus, and the leftover 1 cup to be roasted.
Here’s my super-simple recipe for a light and fresh chickpea salad:
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15 oz can)about 3 cups baby spinach leaves, chopped into tiny pieces (I used a food processor)
1 generous handful of fresh basil (or other herbs), chopped into tiny pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup avocado oil (you could also use olive oil if you prefer; I’ve been experimenting with avocado oil lately, and it worked really well in this dish)
juice of 1/2 or 1 whole lemon (depending on the size of the lemon and your personal preference–I used the juice from 1 whole medium-sized lemon, but you should start with 1/2 and then increase as needed)
3/4 tsp sea salt
black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients–except the chickpeas–until well mixed.
Add the chickpeas last. If you add them first, they might fall apart due to vigorous stirring. If you don’t mind this, then by all means, go ahead and add them first. 😉
This dish tastes best after being chilled in the fridge for at least a few hours. You can eat it as a salad (which is what we did) or serve it inside a big green lettuce leaf, pita bread, or wrap as a sandwich (in which case, having the chickpeas get a little bit smooshed while stirring might actually be a good thing).
My hummus recipe is as basic as they come. I keep thinking that I will liven it up someday by adding sundried tomatoes or roasted red peppers or fresh herbs. My sister-in-law makes an amazing hummus with toasted sesame oil and loads of cumin, which I adore and could eat by the boat load. But for some reason, I always wind up making mine the same old way. Maybe because my husband asks me to. Yes, we’ll blame him rather than my laziness. 😉 Anyway, here is the recipe:
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15 oz can)
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2-4 cloves garlic (2 is about the right level for Zander’s taste buds, but Alex and I prefer it with 6-8 cloves, so please adjust accordingly)
1 tsp sea salt
1/4-1/2 cup water (as needed to adjust thickness)
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender until rich and creamy. Start with 1/4 cup water, and gradually pour in more as needed. I usually wind up using the entire 1/2 cup, but not always. The last thing you want is to add it all at once and wind up with watery hummus.
Once I have transferred my hummus into a storage container, I usually give it a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle the top with paprika. If not for this drizzle, the recipe is oil-free, and I think it tastes really great on its own, but my husband loves the added oil. Sometimes, I place it in two separate containers, one with oil on top and one without.
Roasted chickpeas are dangerously addictive, which is why I try to never make more than a cup at a time. I am not the type to set these aside and eat a handful now and then for a healthy snack. I will scarf down however many cups are in front of me in one sitting.
All you do to make these is toss a cup of cooked chickpeas in enough olive oil to coat them really well, then sprinkle with sea salt and spread in a thin layer on a metal baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes until they are glistening and slightly crispy, or bake for longer if you prefer them to be even crunchier. My oven tends to run really hot, so you may need to adjust your time/temp accordingly.