Chickpeas are my favorite legume. Unlike many foods, I can say that I even loved them as a kid although the only ways I ate them was in salads or as an appetizer, plain in a bowl, which is common in Italian cuisine. I didn’t try hummus until I was an adult and like most vegans, hummus became an important part of my plant-based diet. But hummus is just one use for chickpeas; there are so many ways to enjoy these little garbanzo beans.
Chickpeas are one of the most versatile foods you can buy. They can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, in dishes from appetizers to desserts. Dried chickpeas can be processed into chickpea flour for a gluten-free option that can be used in cooking and baking. Chickpeas are enjoyed around the globe and whether you call them chickpeas, garbanzo beans, ceci, besan or chana dal, we can all agree that chickpeas are a delicious source of protein. If you’ve been wondering what you can do with chickpeas other than make hummus, here are some creative and easy recipes that will have you enjoying chickpeas all summer long.
1. Starters and Small Bites
Let’s start with the starters. Chickpeas and chickpea flour can be used to make appetizers and small bites that are big on flavor. If you’re having a party or get-together, you’ll want to put out a platter of these Mini Quinoa-Chickpea Cakes. Covered with a creamy roasted red pepper cashew cream sauce, these will be a hit on any occasion. For something unique, these Chickpea Balls have some unexpected ingredients, melon and pumpkin seeds, for a creative and yummy treat. Inspired by a popular restaurant dish, these Chickpea Fries are crispy, spicy and addictive.
Chickpeas can add lots of protein to a simple salad, turning it into a satisfying meal. You can simply add chickpeas to an already composed salad like this Protein-Packed Vegan Salad with Quinoa, Chickpeas, Lime and Cilantro, Smoky Chickpea and Watercress Salad with Mango and Avocado and this Superfood Salad with Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Chickpeas, Kale, Sprouts and Seeds.
A second option is to use chickpeas as the salad’s main ingredient. Try this Lemony Chickpea Salad, Vegan, Gluten-Free Chickpea Waldorf Salad, Roasted Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad, Warm Potato Salad with Spinach and Chickpeas and Tangy Vegan Curried Chickpea Salad.
3. Burgers and Sandwiches
Summertime means picnics and cookouts and that means lots of sandwiches and burgers. Chickpeas are an excellent ingredient to make protein-packed, amazing sandwiches that will satisfy your body and your taste buds. Stuff a pita like these Ranch Pitas with Roasted Potatoes and Chickpeas. If you’ve been missing tuna, make this Chickpea “Tuna” Salad Sandwich and this Vegan Chickpea Tuna Melt Sandwich for cold and hot vegan tuna options. Tacos are crunchy sandwiches and you don’t have to wait until Tuesday to eat them. Try these Cilantro Avocado Chickpea Salad Tacos as part of your next taco night.
The next time you make veggie burgers, make them chickpea burgers. Since chickpeas are mild in flavor, they take on the flavors of whatever ingredients you cook them with so be liberal with herbs and spices. Amazing burgers with chickpeas include Mayim Bialik’s Big Bang Chickpea Burger Patty, Artichoke Chickpea Patties with Cashew Thyme Cream and my Chickpea Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce.
I absolutely love falafel, the popular Middle Eastern street food. Mashed chickpeas and lots of parsley and warm, fragrant spices like garlic and coriander…what’s not to love? Though falafels are traditionally fried, they can also be baked for a healthier version. They can be stuffed into a pita or tossed onto a salad and don’t forget all the dipping sauces like this Baked Falafel and Cucumber Noodle Salad with Mint-Tahini Dressing and this Baked Falafel Salad + 2 Creamy Dressings.
If you want to get creative, try making unique falafel dishes. Mash-up two ethnic cuisines to make these Falafel Tacos and these Falafel Tacos with Green Sauce. Turn your falafel into little burgers like these Walnut Falafel Sliders With Pickled Beet and Lemon Mayo or into a vegan meatloaf like this Falafel Loaf With Veg Chili and Lime Lettuce. The award for most creative falafel dish has to go to these Falafel Waffles topped with veggies and hummus “syrup.”
5. Global Dishes
Chickpeas are one of the few legumes which can hold their shape even when cooked for a long time. That makes them perfect for adding some texture to stews and other dishes. Chickpeas show up in stews all over the world like this Iranian Eggplant and Chickpea Stew with Coconut-Almond Stew, Eggplant Garbanzo Stew with Polenta, Jamaican Curried Tofu with Chickpeas, and Raw Moroccan Vegetable and Chickpea Stew with Spicy Orange Cauliflower Couscous.
Other global dishes featuring chickpeas include this Chickpea Butternut Tagine, Chickpea, Sweet Potato, Kale, Green Olive, Dried Fruit and Cashew Tagine, Chorizo, Apple and Chickpeas with Fresh Kale and Cashew Sauce, Moroccan Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas and Pindi Choley – Dark and Spicy Indian Chickpeas.
6. Flatbreads and Crackers
Chickpea flour can be used to make delicious flatbreads and crackers which are also gluten-free. They can be stuffed with yummy fillings like my Kale Parathas or used as a base for pizza like this Socca Pizza. It’s fast, easy and there is no yeast required to make The Most Delicious Mediterranean Chickpea Bread, Sprouted Chickpea Bread or these Herbed Chickpea and Sesame Crackers. Chickpea flour is also a grain-free and gluten-free way to make Chickpea Crepes.
7. Egg Replacement
Chickpea flour can be used to replace eggs in dishes where eggs are the main ingredients. You can make a Chickpea Flour Scramble, Chickpea Omelets with Mushrooms, Greens and Vegan Swiss, and Mini Quiches with Spinach, Tomato and Vegan Cheddar with Lemon Cashew Cream. Chickpea flour lets you make light and airy crepes which can be savory like these Chickpea Blinis with Grilled Vegetables and Lemon Cream or sweet like these Maca, Almond and Orange French Crepes.
When you need a batter to coat French toast, tofu or tempeh, or veggies to make pakora or tempura, chickpea flour is a great choice. Just mix it with water or non-dairy milk and you can make this Challah French Toast, Vegan “Fish” and Chips, Tofu Francaise and these Healthy Baked Vegan Pakora. For tips and recipes about all things egg-free, see Who Needs Eggs? Here’s How to Make Vegan Omelets, Frittatas, Quiches and Crepes.
8. Roasted Chickpeas
If you have not yet tried roasted chickpeas, you don’t know what you’re missing. When chickpeas are roasted, they become crunchy and make a perfect snack. Flavor them with any combination of herbs and spices you like to make them different every time. Flavor suggestions including Ginger Garlic Chickpeas, Buffalo Roasted Chickpeas, Roasted Chickpeas with Chipotle and Lime, and these Oven–Roasted Chickpeas with garlic and cumin. Just remember to make a lot because they are going to disappear quickly!
Chickpeas and chickpea flour are great choices when making desserts. I use chickpea flour all the time when I make cakes, muffins and cookies for a gluten-free dish with lots of protein. These Khaman Dhokla are light and fluffy cakes made with chickpea flour. They are savory, sweet and spicy all at the same time. If you like brownies and blondies, you’ll love these Cinnamon Chickpea Blondies. Made with chickpeas, cashew butter, and oats, these blondies are dairy-free, gluten-free and oil-free for a guilt-free snack anytime.
Aquafaba is all the rage. Did you know you can take chickpea brine – the liquid left in the can after you remove the chickpeas – to make vegan meringue? I know! It’s incredible. Check out the recipe for Vegan Meringue! and then use your new creation to make other amazing desserts like these Mini Vanilla Bean Pavlovas With Coconut Whip and Raspberries and these Raspberry and Elderflower French Macarons.
This summer try using chickpeas for something besides hummus (but definitely make hummus too) and try some of these creative and easy recipes. These humble legumes may be little but the number of ways you can use them are enormous.
Lead Image Photo: Mini Quinoa-Chickpea Cakes