Chickpea love

I’ve written here before about my uninspiring beginnings as a food-eater. Given that I was unable to pick garlic out of a lineup up until my 24th year on this beautiful earth, it shouldn’t surprise you at all to learn that chickpeas weren’t in my culinary lexicon either. I believe my husband introduced me to hummus, sometime in the late 90s, and I pronounced it to be irredeemably disgusting. I suspect he thought about breaking up with me at that moment. (Damn, there were so many moments like this, and all because of food. I finding it amazing both that he’s still around, and that I turned the tables later and made him start liking cauliflower. Gawd moves in mysterious ways, etc etc.)

But then something happened. November, 2003. I decided to go vegetarian and would brook no suggestions about easing into it: I was omnivorous one day and veg the next. That was it. I was advised, by the entire world, that I would probably die from a lack of protein. I scoffed and didn’t think at all about what I was eating except to note whether or not it was veg. My beloved cattie-cat, Mr. Bear, died shortly after I made this decision and so due to a terrible mix of appetite-suppressing grief, a general disinclination to try to cook anything, and a refusal to do any research into nutrition at all, I basically ate only cold cereal, toast, and mushroom soup out of a box for weeks and weeks.

And then one day, as the heartbreak fog began to lift, I noticed something strange: I was really damned hungry. More strangely still, I was full of a desperate and world-destroying craving for chickpeas. I tried to reason with this slavering and alien beast in my belly, reminding it that I didn’t like this (or any other) bean. It told me to eff off, and get it some bloody chickpeas NOW. I humbly submitted.

It’s a testament to how serious about remaining veg I was in those early days that I did all my shopping at a butcher’s (the closest grocery store to my apartment) and still made it work. They had hummus and chickpea salad, and later, they began carrying soy milk regularly under pressure from moi (then found that I wasn’t the only one buying it, and so kept it as part of their regular stock). So, under pressure from my belly, I bought the chickpea salad and the hummus one day, took them home…and ate them both with a spoon, alternating between the chickpea salad and the hummus, and exclaiming aloud to my bemused and irritated roommate, “OH MY GOD IT’S SO GOOD WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME.”

I knew that day that being veg was going to be alright. Pita and hummus became my very bestest friends. They still are. I still eat hummus and pita pretty much every day, though my definition of hummus has become quite flexible. As long as there are beans, tahini, lemon juice, and salt involved, then it’s got my belly’s seal of approval. But here’s a recipe, sort of, of the hummus I make most frequently at home:

Colleen’s Hummus of Hextreme Hawesomeness

  • 28-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • couple pinches of salt
  • maybe 2 tbsp tahini
  • maybe 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-ish tsp sambal oelek
  • maybe 2 tbsp shelled hempseeds
  • water to smooth everything out and make it creamy

Toss it all into the food processor and Bob’s your uncle.

I just eyeball it, so I’m not sure these measurements reflect any verifiable reality.

Now, hummus is my preferred method of chickpea-to-belly delivery, but I use them all the time in things like curries, casseroles, pasta, etc. But the show-stoppingest chickpea number making regular appearances in my kitchen these days is Dreena Burton’s super-fast, super-easy, and super-awesome Jerk Chickpeas. Sharing the love:

Jerk Chickpeas, from Let Them Eat Vegan!, p.  114 (modified slightly)

Ingredients

  • freshly squeezed lime juice from 2 limes (3-4 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp tamari OR 1 tbsp balsamic vineger + 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger root
  • 4 large garlic cloves, grated
  • Few pinches red chili flakes
  • 28 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 – 1 cup chopped or sliced red bell pepper
  • 3/4 cup green onions, sliced (white and green portions, see note)
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a baking dish (I use an 8 by 12-inch), combine all the ingredients except the chickpeas, red bell peppers, green onions, and cilantro. Stir until well mixed. Then add the chickpeas, red peppers, and green onions and stir again.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, stir, and bake uncovered for another 5 to 8 minutes, stirring again about halfway through, until the marinade has partially absorbed into the chickpeas.

Serve over brown rice and top with slices of delicious avocado.

I am as much a devotee of the casserole dish meal as I am of chickpeas and deliciousness, so this dish is particularly adored in my home right now.

If you don’t hate either casseroles or deliciousness, you should try this yourself. You’re welcome. No, really, don’t mention it. It’s my duty and my pleasure to share the chickpea love.

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4 thoughts on “Chickpea love

  1. I so very much love pita and hummus! I like chickpea hummus best but white cannellini bean hummus is pretty awesome too. I am going to pass your jerk chickpea recipe off to my husband and demand that he make it for me sometime. Have you ever had the chickpea cutlets in Veganomicon? They are all kinds of delicious and when you get tired of eating them as cutlets with gravy and mashed potatoes for dinner they make an awesome sandwich.

  2. Goodness, you have made me crave chickpeas and I haven’t even had my coffee yet! May I “steal” your jerk chickpeas recipe for my Someday Cooking semi-blog? With credit, of course.

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