The Sassy Sandpiper: The Mighty Chickpea
By M.R. WILSON, TB Reporter
By any name, chickpeas — or garbanzos — rank among the tastiest protein dynamos.
I really prefer to call them garbanzo beans. They are neither chicks nor peas. I’m allergic to peas.
Anyway, it’s trendy these days to observe “Meatless Monday,” and kudos to you if you do. If not, that’s okay. But I want to tell you something wonderful: Garbanzos are one of the world’s healthiest foods. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=58
They also rank among the tastiest, these nutty, buttery protein dynamos.
Here’s an amusing and informative video summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EQi-mljxoo .
I prefer cooking the dry beans to any brand of canned variety. They are way more flavorful, and besides, I’m suspicious of chemicals (like BPA) that may lurk in the can lining. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-holt-gimenez/bpa-food-cans_b_3493469.html
Dried garbanzo beans resemble tiny brains. If that makes you squeamish, don’t look. Just dump them into a pot of water, add a little vinegar and soak overnight. (This step helps keep you from needing Bean-O.)
I sauté enough garlic in olive oil to stop a bull rhino in his prime. Add salt, the drained garbanzos, and enough water to cover about two inches. Simmer a couple of hours until tender.
I like garbanzo beans in soup; use them instead of cannellinis in an Italian standby called “pasta y fagiola” — pasta and beans. Add garbanzos to any salad. Toss a few in your spinach.
My newly acquired addiction involving garbanzo beans is homemade hummus.
A pause, in case you—Esteemed Reader—are among those people who, at the mention of the word “hummus,” look and feel as though you’ve been asked to eat a handful of compost. (That’s humus, pronounced hyoo-mus, like hyooman being.)
Hummus is like saying, “hum us a tune,” and is a Levantine/Egyptian dip or spread. Dunk fresh veggies in it, and you’ve got a complete meal. I recently made butter-less garlic bread with hummus. My stomach growls as I write. It was that delicious.
My first two batches of hummus lacked tahini, a sesame seed paste listed as optional in the recipe. I later learned that hummus qualifies as a complete protein (containing all nine essential amino acids) when it includes tahini. I asked Sue of Sue’s Farmer’s Market in Kenneth City about this mysterious ingredient. Tahini is pricey. I came home with good advice and a bottle of sesame seeds.
I’ll soon concoct food I’ve grown to love. And it’s so simple, really. Garbanzos, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, sesame seeds, cumin, and a little salt pureed in a food processor yield this nutrient dense, ancient delicacy.
I say a “little” salt because I’m watching my intake these days. Some folks have a sugar addiction. I’m liable to end up dazed at a salt lick.
Hummus is good for you. Truly. In 2012 Australian filmmaker Trevor Graham created a documentary, Make Hummus Not War, illuminating the political controversy surrounding hummus and its gustatory delights. Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yITOS8jrgbc
Call them Egyptian peas, garbanzo beans, or chickpeas. This legume might one day bring peace to the Middle East.
M.R. Wilson is Tampa Bay Reporter’s regularly featured columnist.
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