Chickpea Love: 3 easy, healthy & delicious ways to make the garbanzo bean a part of your life.

I feel like chickpeas get a little shunted, type-casted even, pegged into the hole of "Hummus" and left there to go stale with monotony. Now, I love hummus as much as the next person - spread on a bagel with some fresh tomato, used as a dip for warm pita or bell peppers, or mixed into one of the best chicken salads I have ever made, this is not a food to be trifled with. However, chickpeas have so much more to offer than just pureed creaminess. So, in order to help you embrace your inner love for chickpeas in all forms, I have 3 recipes to share with you, all of which cast the chickpea in the starring role. 

I hope I'm not getting over-zealous with these multi-recipe posts. I know they can get lengthy. I just have so many backlogged recipes to share with you, and oftentimes, they're similar in theme or ingredient, so it just seems to make sense to bundle a few up at a time. If they're too distracting, though, speak up! There's no use in me spending ages formatting a long post of several different recipes if you just wind up passing it over as soon as you catch sight of it. I'd rather be writing about backlogged entries for years, than rushing through them all under the assumption that you guys were on the same page, right there with me.

So about these recipes. The first one is beautiful in its simplicity - it came as a result of leftover ingredients and a need for a quick meal. This Chickpea & Vegetable Skillet is tangy, bursting with the flavor of artichokes and sundried tomatoes, and all around enjoyable. The serving size is large if you intend to add salad greens or pasta to it; I found it filling on its own for myself. The only thing I could think to add to this that I didn't have on hand was a nut - maybe a walnut - to add a little crunch.

 Chickpea & Vegetable Skillet
Yield: 1-2 servings
(printable recipe)

The Ingredients
1/2 cup chickpeas
1/4 small red onion, diced
4 sundried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup chopped artichokes
1 cup spinach
4 ounces plain greek yogurt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon garam masala 

The Method
Add the chickpeas, onion, tomatoes, mushrooms, and artichokes to a skillet over medium heat and saute, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, 5-8 minutes. Add the spinach and cook an additional 2 minutes, allowing it to wilt a little. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, vinegar, zest, and garam masala together, then pour over the skillet mixture and stir to combine. Turn off the heat but leave the pan on the burner to allow the dressing to warm up a little, 1-2 minutes.

Next up is a Chickpea & Feta Salad, adapted from a salsa recipe - this one blew me away. I forget how much I appreciate the flavor of red wine vinegar, which is used in the dressing for this dish and imparts a wonderful flavor when mixed with the feta and spices. This salad was creamy and light, packed with fiber (11g!) to keep you full, and just amazing. My only complaint is how abysmally I washed the red leaf lettuce, making it gritty (yes, I know, how appetizing) and a little distracting. "Salad Spinner" has officially been added to my birthday wish list for this year, to say the least. 

Unfortunately, I can't show a picture of this one because somehow I managed to permanently delete all of them when transferring them onto my computer. It looked pretty, though, I promise!

Chickpea & Feta Salad, adapted from Aggie's Kitchen
Yield: 1 serving
(printable recipe)

The Ingredients
3/4 cup chickpeas (approximately half a can)
1 tablespoon chopped white onion
3 tablespoons feta cheese
1/4 cup green bell pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
black pepper, to taste
1 cup red leaf lettuce, for serving 

The Method
Mix together the chickpeas, onion, bell peppers and feta in a medium bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients and pour over the chickpea mixture. Toss to coat and chill for at least half an hour before serving over lettuce.

Last but not least is, of course, a recipe for hummus. Believe it or not, this is my first time making a hummus, and of course I couldn't settle for a standard one. I had to go and find some doctored up version, and let me tell you, it made a beautiful light lunch earlier this afternoon. The recipe, courtesy of Annie's Eats, added cilantro and jalapenos to the mix, and it was so fresh and spicy as a result. I found carrots to be perfect little spice absorbers, to the point where I didn't even feel the need to reach for a slice of bread at the end. That being said, spread a little bit of this on pita, and your taste buds will be very happy. The only change I made to the original was to use peanut butter instead of tahini, and I only wound up mixing about half of the peanut butter/oil mixture into the hummus, to no ill effect (if you're asking for my humble opinion). So, for the sake of saving space and giving credit where credit is due, I'll simply direct you over to the original post for this one.

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