Chickpeas, which are a type of legume also known as garbanzo beans, are a healthy, protein-packed addition to many meals. They are especially popular in Middle Eastern cuisines, where they are used to make falafel and hummus or served as tasty additions to wraps and meat-based dishes. Indeed, what makes chickpeas so great is that they are not only healthy but also incredibly versatile: You can add them to salads, soups, stews, or serve alongside rice and other vegetables for a filling vegetarian dinner. You can also, of course, add a little sesame seed paste and olive oil and whip them into hummus for a perfect dip to go with crackers or pita chips.
So how do you go about preparing chickpeas? The easiest method of preparing meals with chickpeas is to use canned garbanzo beans. The problem with that is that canned chickpeas can be chock-full of preservatives and other additives that lower their health quotient. For the health (and taste) conscious, dried chickpeas are the way to go. But how do you cook dried chickpeas? It’s a bit more complex of a process than simply opening a can and serving, but it’s actually not as difficult as you might believe. Read on to find out how to make these delicious legumes without ever touching a can!
1. Gather your ingredients.
Depending on how much food you want to make, you will need dried garbanzo beans, water, and salt (optional).
2. Soak the garbanzo beans prior to cooking them.
You will need to soften the chickpeas by soaking them in water before you cook them. If you have enough time, put the beans in a bowl of cold water, cover with a clean towel, and allow to soak overnight. Note that once softened, the beans will expand to about twice their size, so you should leave plenty of water on top of the chickpeas to accommodate this expansion.
You can also soften the chickpeas in about an hour by putting them at the bottom of a large pot, filling the pot with water (leaving several inches of water above the chickpeas), and then bringing the water to a boil for about five minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the chickpeas to soak in the pot of hot water for another hour.
Bear in mind that the softer the beans, the easier they are to digest. In some cultures, they are allowed to soak for several days before cooking. This may lead to sprouted garbanzo beans, which many believe to have additional health benefits. If you’re soaking for longer than overnight, make sure to switch up the water each day to help prevent any food-borne illness.
3. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
You should rain and rinse the soaked beans before you cook them. You may want to use a strainer for easier drainage.
4. Cook the soaked beans.
When you are ready to cook the chickpeas, add them to a larger pot. You should use about one quart of water for every cup of chickpeas. If you want to add salt, you should add about one-eighth of a teaspoon of salt for every cup of chickpeas and quart of water. Cook over medium heat for 60 to 90 minutes depending on how tender you want the beans to be. The beans may continue to expand as you cook them, so make sure to monitor them and add additional water to the pot if necessary. The desired level of tenderness should depend on what you’re planning to use the beans for. Dishes like hummus require softer beans, whereas if you’re adding the chickpeas as an ingredient in a salad, soup, or stew, firmer beans are better. It’s also better to leave beans on the firmer side if you’re planning on freezing them after they are cooked.
5. Freeze the beans for later use.
If you’re not planning on using the beans right away, you should pat them dry and store them in Ziploc bags in the freezer. Make sure to store only a single layer of the beans in any given Ziploc bag; if you just throw a bunch of beans into a bag, they will clump together when they freeze. Frozen beans can last up to a year in the freezer.