I love chickpeas. I love how versatile they are. I love how easy they are to cook. I love that the German word for them literally translates to ‘giggle peas’. There’s a lot to love about these little guys – so let’s take a look at some of the wonderful things you can make from them.
Possibly my all-time favourite use of the chickpea is to make hummus. This simple yet delicious dip, most often made from blending chickpeas with tahini, lemon juice, garlic and cumin, has saved me in so many non-vegan-friendly situations. So long as there’s bread and hummus, I won’t starve!
Some people recommend peeling your chickpeas first, but this is pretty time consuming – so if you have a half-decent blender, I’d suggest just throwing the chickpeas in, skins and all! It’s really easy to make different variations of hummus, too. Once you’ve made a basic hummus, you could add in roasted peppers, some sundried tomatoes, or a handful of fresh herbs, such as coriander or basil. Serve it with some olive oil drizzled on top and you’re good to go!
One of the most classic ways to enjoy chickpeas is in the form of falafel. Whether deep-fried or baked, these round balls or patties of ground chickpeas can be enjoyed in wraps or pitta breads, with a salad or as part of a whole meze platter. I like to add broad beans and fresh parsley to the chickpeas when I make falafel, which tastes great and gives them a nice green hue. There are lots of other flavours of falafel worth experimenting with too, such as sweet potato, beetroot or spinach.
Aquafaba is the water you get from soaking dried chickpeas – or the water they come in if you buy them in a jar or a tin. So whilst this is technically not something that uses the chickpeas themselves, it seems worth a mention here anyway! You can use aquafaba to make lots of things, from mayonnaise to meringues to mousse. (It can also be used to make things that don’t begin with an ‘M’!)
My personal favourite is chocolate mousse. All you have to do is whip the aquafaba until it forms stiff peaks (which works best if the aquafaba is cold), then fold in melted chocolate and sugar. It’s light, fluffy and everything you want a chocolate mousse to be!
It took me a while to discover the concept of putting chickpeas on pizza. It never crossed my mind until one day, I happened to have some chickpeas hanging around whilst making pizza and decided to combine the two – and I haven’t looked back since! My favourite way to do this is to simply mix the chickpeas with some barbecue sauce and then throw them on the pizza along with some red onions and vegan cheese, and top with avocado once cooked. This makes for a pretty filling pizza, but it tastes great!
Need to whip up a quick and tasty vegan dinner? How about a chickpea and spinach curry? Just fry some onions, garlic and tomatoes until they’re really soft, then add some salt, pepper and spices such as turmeric, coriander, cumin, garam masala and chilli. Fry for a little longer, then add the chickpeas and some coconut milk, cashew cream or vegetable stock. Let the curry simmer until the sauce thickens, then throw in some spinach not long before you serve. Done! Instead of the spinach, you could also go for a chickpea and aubergine or chickpea and potato curry – whatever takes your fancy!
Crispy roasted chickpeas
Can’t get enough of those little giggle peas? Well then you might want to consider making them into a really moreish snack! Coat the chickpeas in oil, salt, pepper and your preferred herbs or spices – cumin and cayenne pepper is a good combo, for example. Pop them in a dish and roast them in the oven until they crisp up, which usually takes around half an hour. And that’s it! They’re great as a snack alongside a cheeky beer, or as a topping for toast or a salad.
Chickpea flour, whether you buy it or make it yourself by grinding dried chickpeas, has a whole host of uses. You can use it to make batters, thicken sauces or bind burgers, for example. It’s also naturally gluten free, making it a great choice of flour for anyone who needs to avoid gluten. One of my favourite ways to use it is to make bondas – a delicious South Indian potato snack. These are balls of spicy, partially mashed potato that are dipped into a chickpea-flour batter and then deep-fried. Seriously delicious!
And there you go – a whole variety of ways to enjoy a chickpea or two! So the next time you’re not sure what to cook, pick up some chickpeas and head – with a giggle – to the kitchen!