For thousands of years the people of the Middle East, the Mediterranean and western Asia have enjoyed the rich buttery taste (like a combination of chestnuts and beans) of chickpeas—also known as garbanzos. The fully ripe beans are ground into flour, eaten in salads, stews and traditional dishes such as hummus, or roasted, seasoned and eaten as a snack. The tender unripe green beans can also be enjoyed raw.
Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) are rich in protein, calcium, iron, B vitamins and fibre. Freshly grown chickpeas are sweeter and more flavourful than store-bought ones.
Try incorporating these sweet legumes into these delicious recipes
Hummus with cilantro pesto and grilled pita
Jazz up hummus with a flavourful cilantro pesto. This recipe uses za’atar, which is a Middle Eastern blend of thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and other herbs, and can be purchased at Middle Eastern markets. Tahini is sesame seed paste and is widely available at grocery stores and specialty markets.
Makes 2 cups (500 mL)
- 2 cups (500 mL) cooked chickpeas (or one 19 oz./540 mL can, rinsed and drained)
- 1⁄3 cup (75 mL) tahini paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp. (45 mL) lemon juice or to taste
- 3 tbsp. (45 mL) olive oil
- 1⁄2 tsp. (2 mL) ground cumin
- 1 tsp. (5 mL) salt or to taste
- 3 tbsp. (45 mL) unflavoured yogurt or water, as necessary
- 1⁄4 tsp. (1 mL) hot pepper sauce
Place chickpeas in a food processor and chop coarsely. Add tahini paste, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and salt; purée.
Add enough yogurt to make mixture creamy and smooth. Season with hot pepper sauce.
Place in a large serving bowl.
For cilantro pesto
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- 1 jalapeno pepper, halved, cored and cut into chunks
- 1 cup (250 mL) packed fresh cilantro
- 1⁄2 tsp. (2 mL) salt
- 1⁄3 cup (75 mL) olive oil
Using a food processor, chop garlic and jalapeno.
Add cilantro and salt; purée. Pour in olive oil while processor is running.
Drizzle over and around the edge of the hummus.
For grilled pita
- 4 6" (15 cm) pita breads
- 1 tbsp. (15 mL) olive oil
- 1 tsp. (5 mL) za’atar or dried thyme
- 1 tsp. (5 mL) salt
Brush one side of each pita with olive oil.
Combine za’atar with salt and sprinkle over pita.
Grill until lightly browned, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature alongside hummus and pesto.