Food & Drink

5 ideas for cooking with chickpeas, including salad and cocktails

Besides roasting and eating chickpeas as a snack, you can toss them with salads or use them as a replacement for egg whites.
Besides roasting and eating chickpeas as a snack, you can toss them with salads or use them as a replacement for egg whites. Emma Christensen

The humble chickpea is one of those ingredients that can work in lots of different ways. Mash it, and you’ve got the basis for falafel or a veggie patty. Roast it, and the legume becomes a crunchy snack. Canned chickpeas are convenient and healthy, or you can buy them in their raw state and soak them overnight before using for a fresher, more textural component to a dish. You can even use the liquid left over in canned chickpeas to make a frothy foam similar to egg whites, for use in vegan baked goods and the like.

We have found five recipes for chickpeas that will come in handy this time of year, when we’re trying to eat less and eat healthier than we have the past few months, but still don’t want to skimp on flavor.

Chickpea Fritters With Yogurt Sauce

This is a play on falafel, the deep-fried balls of mashed chickpeas popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. These are slightly easier to make and have more texture.

To make, drain 2 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas then combine in a bowl with 1 large egg, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, 1/4 cup chopped red onion and 1/4 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt. Season with salt and pepper, then use a potato masher or something similar to mash the mixture until you create a sort of thick paste. You still want some chickpea pieces in the mix, but not a ton. Use your hands to divide the mixture into 16 balls, using a 1/4-cup measuring cup to measure them out. (Fill it slightly less than all the way.) Place balls on a plate or cutting board, then flatten them slightly with your palm so they are about 1/2-inch thick. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons canola oil and, when hot, add half the fritters, pressing them down with a spatula and cooking for about 4 minutes on one side. Flip fritters, then cook on the other side for about 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Season with salt to taste immediately. Repeat process with remaining fritters. To make the yogurt dipping sauce, mix 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve fritters with sauce and some diced cucumbers and fresh parsley.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit.

Gin Fizz With Aquafaba

Next time you drain canned chickpeas, don’t discard the viscous, almost clear liquid that is left over. You can use that liquid, which is called aquafaba, as a substitute for egg whites, particularly when it’s shaken in a cocktail mixer. Certain proteins in chickpeas whip themselves into a frenzy when shaken vigorously, just like egg whites, meaning they are suitable for topping frothy cocktails like the traditionally egg-topped gin fizz.

To make, add 2 ounces gin, 1 ounce simple syrup, 1 ounce lemon juice, 1 tablespoon aquafaba (chickpea liquid) and a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker and shake for 1 minute. (Yes, it needs to be a whole minute for the aquafaba to foam.) Add some ice and 1 ounce club soba to a glass, then strain contents of the shaker over top. Serve immediately.

Carrot and Chickpea Salad

I first wrote about this recipe in 2017 but love it so much that I make it often, and have tweaked it to make it even better.

To make, start by cooking 1 cup quinoa according to package directions. Transfer from stovetop to a bowl, then let cool while you make the rest of the salad. Whisk 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup water and 1 teaspoon each black pepper and salt together in a bowl. Shave two large carrots into ribbons using a vegetable peeler. Place carrots in vinegar mixture and press them down a bit so they are submerged in liquid. Set aside. Drain and rinse 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add about 2 tablespoons olive oil, then add chickpeas to skillet. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes, until chickpeas are nice and toasty, browned slightly on the outside and fragrant. Place chickpeas on a paper towel-lined plate to let them cool slightly. Add 5 ounces arugula and 3 ounces spinach to a large bowl. Drain carrots but reserve the vinegar solution, then add carrots to bowl along with the quinoa. Top with the chickpeas, 1/2 cup shelled pistachios and 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese. To make a dressing, mix that vinegar solution with 1/4cup olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Serves 4.

Crispy Garlic Chickpeas

Turn chickpeas into a crispy snack by sauteing them in a skillet with oil and flavorful spices. You can also roast them in a 425-degree oven for about 10 minutes to get a similar effect. You can eat these by the handful, or you can use them in various dishes. I like to sub them in for croutons atop salads, or to add some texture to rice bowls.

To make, rinse 2 (15-ounce) cans of chickpeas. Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon paprika and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Stir, then add chickpeas and stir again to coat the chickpeas. Cook for about 8 minutes, until chickpeas are darker in color and starting to blister. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Sausage and Chickpea Pasta

Use chicken or turkey sausage here for a light pasta loaded with protein. To make, heat a swirl of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 minced shallots and cook until starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add 1 pound sausage, casings removed, and cook, breaking up with a spoon until cooked through. This should take about 7 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and cook for a minute or so. Add 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes, until thickened. Meanwhile, cook 12 ounces pasta, like a rotini or penne, according to package directions. Drain pasta, but leave 1 cup of the cooking liquid behind. Drain 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas and add to skillet. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Add pasta and 1/2 cup of reserved liquid to the skillet. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add more water as needed. Sauce should be thick and coat the pasta. Remove from heat and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste and a handful of fresh parsley.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit.