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Chickpea Magic: An ingredient we treat unfairly?

Posted by: Bob Hart | 31 January, 2013 - 11:23 AM
Chickpeas. (Photo: iStock)

If chickpeas sit around wondering how they are going to win our respect and affection, who can blame them? I mean, they are nutritious, versatile and, properly handled, quite delicious. But do we care? Not a bit of it.

There are all sorts of dishes we can make from chickpeas - a couple of them staples in more enlightened parts of the world: falafel, for example, which is one of the few dishes that makes vegetarianism tolerable. And hommus - another wondrous dish over which Israel and Lebanon recently fought a long and complex court battle, just to establish who really invented it.

Chickpeas are most commonly purchased in their dried form: a cup of these, soaked for around 8 hours, drained and simmered in 6 cups of water with a few veg until tender, is the basis for a terrific meal.

Or, easier still, a 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed, means they are ready to go, and can be the basis of a great meal. Try them, for example, in a nourishing soup with chorizo and silverbeet or kale - magnificent.

Sweat a finely diced onion, gently, in 2tbs of Extra Virgin olive oil for about five minutes, or until lightly coloured. Add a diced chorizo, allow it to sweat also, and then turn the heat to medium. Add 2 minced or pressed garlic cloves, a pinch of paprika, a pinch of cumin and toss together, stirring to coat. Add the chickpeas and 1/2 cup of vegie or chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, add about 500g of silverbeet or kale, sliced into wide ribbons, season and bring to a simmer. Stir to wilt the greens, and then cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the greens are tender. Check the seasoning. Divide between four soup bowls, add a cup of hot vegie or chicken stock to each and top each portion with a pinch of cumin. Eat with warm pita bread or sourdough.

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