Friday, February 24, 2012

DE-licious and easy chickpeas

For most of my life, I've felt a little put off by chickpeas. I generally really like beans, but something about chickpeas made them unappealing. Maybe it was memories of seeing them floating in big vats at the salad bar. I don't know. Anyway, now that I'm all grown up, I've learned to challenge some of my irrational food prejudices. In the case of chickpeas, it's working out pretty well for me.

I came up with this dish when I needed something to take to a potluck, and everyone wanted the recipe. Then I made it for the family, and my sweetie loved it. I figured it's a keeper!

If you're not sure what to do with chickpeas (or if you're just looking for something different), give this recipe a try. It's got a lot going for it:
  • Tasty
  • Fast and easy preparation
  • Not too many ingredients (you might already have most of them in the kitchen)
  • Easy to change it up if you need to (I guess we call that "versatile")
  • Healthy! Plus, you get to count legumes as a protein AND a vegetable
  • Portable (because it can be served at room temperature)
  • Great as leftovers
Part of what makes the dish easy is that I use canned chickpeas, but they have to be really good quality. I buy organic with no salt added (a lot of sodium in the chickpeas will kill the healthiness factor). You can find them at Whole Foods. Take the time to pour them into a collander, rinse them VERY well, and let them drain while you get the other ingredients ready. You'll need two cans of chickpeas. (This should make 4-6 servings, depending on how big your servings are.)

Chop a couple of tablespoons (each) of flat-leaf parsley and cilantro. Peel and thinly slice two medium-sized shallots.

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. To the warmed oil, add a tablespoon of cumin seeds and stir them around for a minute or two. Then add the shallots and saute until they're lightly browned. If the shallots are cooking too quickly, turn down the heat; don't let them burn! Take them off the heat, sprinkle in a teaspoon of turmeric, and stir it all together. Now everything will be bright yellow!

Pour the rinsed and drained chickpeas into a medium-sized bowl. Pour the shallots over the chickpeas, and add the parsley, cilantro, and about 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan. Squeeze the juice from half of a lemon, and stir everything together.

Now taste it and adjust the seasoning. Keep in mind that the flavors will sort of meld as it sits. It might need a little more olive oil (if it's dry) or lemon juice (if it needs more acidity). Add salt to taste. You can serve them room temperature or warm (they microwave just fine!).

We've had this as a vegetarian entree (with rice and a green veggie or salad) and as a side dish. Promise you'll like it!

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