20 things to do with chickpeas

roasted chickpeas
© jules/Flickr

Because few pantry ingredients are as generous as the humble chickpea.

Chickpeas are so magnificently versatile, it’s no wonder we’ve been eating them for 7,500 years or so. They’ve got it all: Taste, texture and nutritional chutzpah – plus easy accessibility and ease of use. What’s not to love?

I enjoy the process of cooking dried beans – and the flavor and the lack of BPA – so I always have a variety of them in the pantry. But having a few cans of chickpeas around as well guarantees that one will always have a meal on hand in a pinch.

To make chickpeas from scratch, see Katherine’s story on 4 ways to cook dried beans. If you want to use canned chickpeas, we recommend using BPA-free brands, like Eden Organics and Trader Joe’s.

The list below includes some of the many ways I’ve put chickpeas to use … and it’s really just scratching the surface. (Let us know your favorite uses too; we can have a chickpea party in the comments.)

Crispy oven roasted

Because oven roasting magically transforms everything and chickpeas are no exception (see photo above). Preheat oven to 400F. Thoroughly dry either canned or cooked chick peas, spread out on a baking sheet, toss with olive oil and sea salt, roast for 20 to 30 minutes while giving a shake to the pan every 10 minutes or so. You’ll know they are done when they’re golden, crispy and deliciously melty inside. I love them with smoked paprika; you can add any of your favorite seasonings.

Tomato stew

This is such a cheat meal one can hardly call it cooking, but here goes. To a medium pot over medium heat, add a can of nice Italian tomatoes to a can of chickpeas with their liquid. Cook until thickened a bit; toss in any herbs or vegetable bits you like, season with salt and pepper, call it dinner. (Of course, this could be made with cooked dried chickpeas and fresh tomatoes too, but for a five-minute dinner it’s pretty unbeatable.)

Pasta e fagioli

OK, this is more like pasta e fagioli-ish than the real beautifully cooked Italian tomato-bean-pasta soup. But if you make the tomato stew above and add in cooked pasta, it makes a quick and delicious facsimile. And topped with chopped raw onions and oregano makes it even better.

Scrambled like eggs

Take chickpeas, mash half of them and then add the mashed ones with the whole ones in a pan with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. You can also add one or more of the following: miso paste, soy sauce, onions, peppers, nutritional yeast, mushrooms, cheese, avocado, etc. Saute until golden and serve/eat like you would scrambled eggs.

Chickpea cakes aka veggie burgers

Since “bean patties” doesn’t seem to have the same allure as something including the word “burger,” I’m never sure what to call beans and vegetables mashed together and used in a sandwich. So bean cakes it is. Jaymi’s recipe for “southwest chipotle chickpea burgers” is tried and true.

Chickpea curry

Chickpeas are a staple all over the world; but since I am limiting this list to ways in which I use them regularly, I am leaving out a lot of other uses. I am sure there are amazing chickpea curry recipes out there, but what I do is this: Grab all the vegetable bits and scraps at the end of the week, sauté them with plenty of garlic, onions and ginger, add chickpeas, coconut milk and curry paste. Cook until thick and delicious, serve with brown rice.

Garbanzo toast

While it's true that avocado toast may be perfection (and I'm not even a millennial!), mashed chickpeas on toast isn't so shabby. I mash them with a fork, add lemon zest, olive oil and salt, and apply to toast. For more of an avocado mouthfeel, you can add in some softened butter to the mix.

Bumped-up macaroni and cheese

If you have a mac-n'-cheese loving child, adding chickpeas is a great and quick way to perk up the nutrients.

Pureed soup

weekday vegetarian: rosemary, garlic and chickpea soupPhoto: Kelly Rossiter/CC BY 2.0
This recipe for Kelly’s rosemary garlic chickpea soup reminds us that a can of chickpeas, a stovetop and a pot, and a blender are almost all you need for a quick and delicious soup.

Tuna-ish salad

Do you like tuna salad but don’t like eating tuna? Then this one is for you; it’s one of those uncanny substitution recipes that introduce a little rubber reality into a meal. As in, this tastes just like tuna, wait, is this tuna, this isn’t tuna, this is tuna … and so on. The trickery relies on making it how you usually make tuna salad, just using chunky mashed chickpeas in place of the fish. (I use a pastry cutter, but pulsing in a blender or just using a fork would work too.) For my kids I go classic: The chickpeas along with mayonnaise, chopped celery, chopped dill pickles, lemon, salt and pepper.

Refried beans

While normally one might expect to use black or pinto for refried beans, I have used chickpeas in an emergency and they were delicious. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil, add chickpeas and some of their cooking liquid, cook for around 5 minutes, mash with a potato masher, cook until they reach your preferred thickness. I also like to add salt, cumin and something spicy.

Random pilaf

Chickpea quinoa© Melissa Breyer
Since chickpeas play so nicely with grains and the like, they pair wonderfully with rice, quinoa and couscous for a nutritious meal reliant on little more on what you have on hand. I always love these opportunities to use up ingredients: Cook up a pot of grains or couscous, saute random vegetables, add seasoning and chickpeas, garnish creatively. The photo above was one such kitchen-sink adventure: Spicy curried quinoa with cauliflower, chickpeas, dried cherries; garnished with pomegranate seeds and cilantro.

Basic hummus

OK, this wouldn't be a chickpea list without hummus. And in this case, a lot of hummus because A) this is the age of hummus and B) I love it and C) it’s so incredibly easy. First, my basic recipe.

1 can (2 cups) chickpeas
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons tahini
2 lemons
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste

Drain the chickpeas, saving the juice and setting it to the side. Add the chickpeas, along with all remaining ingredients, to a food processor. Pulse until you have a paste, adding reserved liquid until you achieve a nice hummus texture—smooth, thick, and spreadable. Voila But wait, there’s more!

Beet hummus

Add cooked beets to basic hummus before adding the reserved chickpea liquid; garnish with mint.

Butternut hummus

Add cooked butternut squash to basic hummus before adding the reserved chickpea liquid; garnish with toasted pepitas and sage.

Ginger hummus

Add fresh ginger and mint to basic hummus before adding the reserved chickpea liquid; garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Lemon rosemary hummus

Add a lot of lemon zest and chopped fresh rosemary at the end of the basic hummus recipe.

Miso wasabi hummus

Add miso paste and wasabi to basic hummus before adding the reserved chickpea liquid; garnish with sesame seeds.

Red pepper hummus

Add roasted red peppers and jalapeno to basic hummus before adding the reserved chickpea liquid; garnish with fresh cilantro.

Chocolate hummus

Chocolate hummus© Melissa Breyer
I'm not so sure this one qualifies as a quick meal; more of a strange snack-dessert hybrid ... but I promise it is as delicious as it is strange! I was so prepared to hate it; yet, I loved it. See it here: Chocolate hummus is shockingly good (recipe + nutrition facts)

20 things to do with chickpeas
Because few pantry ingredients are as generous as the humble chickpea.

Related Content on Treehugger.com