Chickpeas are little things that have occasionally appeared in my pantry in tins, floated around for a few months and then been thrown randomly into a "fridge review" dish when I am trying to clean out my pantry. You know what I mean - that strange dish of unmatched flavours you force on your family when you are trying to get rid of ingredients you feel guilty about throwing out. Something you would never dream of serving when you have guests for dinner.
Times are changing, however. I currently have a number of tins of these little legumes in my pantry, bought to make hommus when I realised just how much I was paying for hommus at the supermarket. But I have also started thinking about other ways to use them, too.
Firstly, a little about them. Chickpeas have been around for a long time. There have been archeological remains found (probably in some well-intentioned cook's pantry) from the Middle East dating back to 7500 years ago. They were known and enjoyed by the classical Greek and Romans. Cicero even got his name from them - in Latin they are known as cicer. They are used in many ways in cooking throughout the Middle East, India and parts of Asia. They are a low GI food and a source of zinc, folate and protein. They are eaten cold in salads, hot in curries and other dishes, ground up into flour, roasted, and some varieties are even popped like popcorn. A very versatile little legume.
I received inspiration the other day from Jules Clancy, who has a great blog called Stonesoup. It has lots of great recipes, including video demonstrations, and her dishes are packed with vegies. She really enjoys using chickpeas, and I found a number of recipes that use them. Her blog can be found here: Stonesoup blog.
One of the great ideas I got from her is to make hommus with other roast veggies. The girls and I made roast butternut pumpkin hommus (with some chickpeas as well) yesterday - a very different taste. I liked it, and so did Ella and Jessica, but Zoe is fairly anti-pumpkin.
I also took inspiration from the general vibe of her recipes, and for my lunch yesterday heated up some chickpeas in a small frying pan with some flaked almonds, and wilted some rocket from my garden through it, then put chopped parsley on top. Very nice.
For dinner, I had some leftover chickpeas, so I dried them on paper towel, tossed them in flour, powdered onion and a little salt, then fried them in olive oil. I was quite impressed with the result.
Another idea I used last night from Jules Clancy is the idea of cooking food on one side only. So I also got some asparagus, and put it in the pan with olive oil, put the lid on so it would steam through a bit, and just cooked it on one side. I liked the way it went soft but retained some crunch. Fresh on one side, lovely and brown on the other.