Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to cook dried chickpeas

How many times have you breezed past the dried beans in the bulk section, not giving them another look? I can't even count. One of the perks of working so close to the team who does recipes for Whole Foods Market is that sometimes there are bonus ingredients from recipe testing in the communal kitchen. I saw the dried chickpeas innocently sitting there, overlooked for more than a week by my colleagues and thought to myself, I'm going to give this a try! I took them home and let them sit in my pantry for 2 weeks, intimidated and afraid. Finally, on a leisurely Sunday I bucked up and did a little research. It sounded surprisingly easy, and I figured I didn't have much to lose. 

The end result? AMAZING chickpeas. I didn't know what I was missing! Now of course, the canned variety are tasty and handy in a pinch, but I'm incorporating dried chickpeas into my regular rotation for sure.

How to cook dried chickpeas

1. Buy chickpeas (1/2 cup dried is usually good and I think will end up equating to a can). The fresher you can buy, the better as they tend to cook more evenly and end up tender. Buying them from the bulk section of a busy supermarket is your best bet since you can be sure they run through products faster.

2. Soak the chickpeas in cool water for 5-6 hours or overnight. 

3. Drain and lightly rinse the chickpeas.

4. Put the chickpeas in a small saucepan and cover with 1-2 inches of water. Add a teaspoon of salt.

5. Bring the chickpeas up to a boil then reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 1 hour.

6. Drain and use like you would canned chickpeas!

Bulgur and Chickpea Salad

1 cup bulgur
2 cups chickpeas 
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces feta
6 leaves basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add bulgur and let sit 20 minutes. Drain any excess liquid.

Add bulgur to a medium bowl with chickpeas, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, feta and basil - toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Note that I served my portion over a bed of spinach with a handful of halved cherry tomatoes and a hard-boiled egg for a more complete dinner. It's great on its own, however, too!

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