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Cooking With Legumes: Garbanzo Beans, Chickpeas

Garbanzo beans, commonly known as chickpeas, are among the most widely-used legumes. A major reason is they are the foundation of hummus, a popular dip which is made by puréeing garbanzos with olive oil, tahini (sesame seed butter), lemon juice and garlic.

Chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) are sturdy yet buttery in texture, and their unique, spherical shape is easily recognizable. Varieties of garbanzo beans include the common, cream-colored chickpea; the kabuli, most common in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine; and the desi, smaller, darker and more common in India.

The mild, nutty flavor of chickpeas is delicious not only in dips and spreads like hummus, but also in falafel – fried balls or patties, made from either ground chickpeas, herbs and seasonings, generally served in a pita with tahini sauce. In Italy and France, bakeries and street carts overflow with socca, or farinata (a thin chickpea-flour pancake seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sometimes rosemary. In India, garbanzos shine in dishes such as chana masala, which consists of chickpeas stewed with onions, tomatoes and spices.

Cooking garbanzo beans can provide 50 percent of the Daily Value of fiber, two thirds of which is insoluble, which supports digestive health. That same cup of chickpeas also supplies 70 percent of the Daily Value of folate and 85 percent of manganese. Manganese is part of a unique combination of antioxidants found in garbanzos that, together, combat oxidative stress, reducing the risk of heart disease, as well as protecting the respiratory and nervous systems. Here’s how to cook chickpeas:

Cooking time: 90 minutes

Liquid per cup of legumes: 4 cups

How to cook chickpeas, garbanzo beans: Soak overnight. Drain water and replace with fresh, cold water for cooking. Place on stove and bring to a boil in a pot with a lid. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, tilting the lid slightly to allow steam to escape, and leave to cook for up to 90 minutes, or until tender.

Try garbanzo beans in these recipes: