Chickpeas

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailWhat are they? 

  • Small, round seeds with a slightly nutty taste, they’re also known as pulses or legumes.
  • Great in rustic Mediterranean stews with vegetables, couscous, rice or meat such as pork or chorizo
  • Once cooked, they can be eaten cold in salads or liquidised to make healthy dips.

What’s so great about them? 

  • cheap and very versatile, they’re a perfect store cupboard stand-by as they can be bought either dried,ready cooked in cans or milled into flour (also called Gram in Indian cooking)
  • a healthy alternative to potatoes or pasta as they’re packed with nutrients
  • also high in protein (7.2g/100g) and fibre.
  • they’re high carbohydrate which makes them a good choice for weight watchers (as they keep hunger at bay between meals)
  • also good for family meals as Mediterranean style recipes which involve cooking chickpeas with meat and vegetables go a long way and actually taste better the next day!

beansDid you know that a healthy balanced diet should include at least two servings of pulses a week?

Buying and Cooking tips:

Canned:

Perfect for the novice cook, as they can used straight from the can in lots of ways, such as :

  • liquidised and mixed with chopped garlic and lemon to make Greek hoummous
  • drained and added to salads made with couscous, rice or greens.
  • can be added to vegetable soups towards end of cooking for added goodness.

Dried:

Cheaper to buy than tinned, these are better for Mediterranean style stews or soups as they have more flavour  than the canned ones.

Easy to use as long as you follow some simple guidelines:

  • Soak  overnight in plenty of water before cooking (at least 12 hours). Ensure you use a large bowl as the pulses will swell considerably overnight as they rehydrate!
  • Rinse and cook in plenty of fresh water.
  • Do not add salt at this stage as this makes them soften quicker.
  • Allow at least one hour and half to ensure they are cooked thoroughly.
  • pulses should be thoroughly cooked before eating- never “al dente.”
  • when cooking, remove the white scum which floats to the top of the water with a slotted spoon.
  • add salt once they have softened

Flour:

Chickpea (or gram) flour is a soft yellow flour which can be used for cooking other delicious chickpea based dishes which are low cost yet filling such as:

  • French Socca-which resemble flat pancakes
  • Italian Panissa which are fried in oil and resemble creamy chips
  • or an oven baked version known as Calentita in Gbraltar

Many originated as street food and are still sold as hot snacks in the south of France and Italy.

 Did you know?

  • chickpeas are one of the oldest known pulses? They can be traced as far back as 5,000BC  to Turkey.
  • In Spain where chickpeas feature in many dishes, the children’s character Tom Thumb is known as Garbancito,which means little Garbanzo-the Spanish word for chickpea.

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