Vegetarian meals

Chickpeas for your little chickadees


Cooking chickpeas

A pound of dried chickpeas costs less than a 15.5-ounce can and yields more than three times as much — about 6 cups. Here are three ways to cook them. It’s not necessary to soak them first, and leftovers freezer well.

Pressure cooker: In a 7-quart or larger pressure cooker, combine 1 pound rinsed and culled chickpeas with 9 cups water, 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil (to minimize foaming). Lock lid in place. Bring to pressure over high heat (about 15 minutes). Adjust heat to maintain pressure. Cook 45 minutes. Turn off heat. Let pressure dissipate naturally.

Slow cooker: Place 1 pound rinsed and culled chickpeas and 1 tablespoon kosher salt in a slow cooker. Add enough boiling water to cover by at least 1 inch. Cook on high for about 5 hours or low for about 10 hours, until tender.

Stovetop: In a large pot, combine 1 pound rinsed and culled chickpeas, 1 tablespoon kosher salt and water to cover by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 3 hours.

Kathy Martin

Main dish

Chickpea curry

2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil

1 1/2 cups thinly cut onion wedges

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons peeled, grated fresh ginger

3/4 teaspoon cumin seed

2 cups fresh or canned tomatoes, with their juices

2 teaspoons garam masala

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon sea salt (less if using canned chickpeas)

2 cups cubed Yukon Gold potatoes (1/2-inch cubes)

5 cups cooked, drained chickpeas (or three 15.5-ounce cans, drained)

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and cumin seed, and cook until the garlic starts to brown, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add the tomatoes, garam masala, turmeric, coriander, salt and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes at a bare simmer.

Add the potatoes and chickpeas. Cook until the potatoes are tender about 20 minutes.

Season to taste with salt, and stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Serve over brown rice. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 330 calories, 14 g protein, 54 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 0 saturated fat, 0 cholesterol, 410 mg sodium, 11 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar.

Washington Post Service

I’ve always thought of my husband as a Midwestern meat-and-potatoes kind of guy and myself as the spice-loving, healthy vegetarian. In fact, though, his favorite meal is meat-free and probably one of the spiciest, most healthful dinners I regularly put on the table: chickpea curry over brown rice.

All three of my children like chickpeas, too. Hummus is a staple; we make it most weeks. Roasted chickpeas with sea salt and an array of spices are an easy snack. When I am stuck without a dinner plan, a can of chickpeas tossed with olive oil, chopped scallions and sea salt makes a great, protein-rich side dish to anything.

A few facts about this legume:

• Chickpeas are high in fiber, iron, vitamins and antioxidants.

• 20 percent of the legume is protein, a percentage comparable to meat’s.

• The Latin name for the word chickpea means “small ram” because the legume somewhat resembles a ram’s head. Other names include garbanzo bean and Egyptian pea.

• A Chinese company is attempting to patent chickpea extract as a diabetes medicine because it is shown to lower triglycerides and cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar.

• In some cultures, dried chickpeas are ground as coffee because they have a similarly nutty flavor.

I told my boys that chickpeas are eaten as dessert in some countries, which is true, but they didn’t take the bait. Maybe your kids will.

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