Cooking with Chickpeas
Hope you had a great week cooking. Do let me know how you get on with the recipes and what you think. I did get some feedback that the carrot soup was a little sweet, feel free to drop the desert spoon of honey down to a teaspoon in this recipe if you prefer. I actually like the sweetness as it gives the dish a really nourishing feel.
Now, on to this week. I am trying to slowly introduce ingredients as the week's go by, so that you will build up your cupboards at home, meaning you'll never be stuck for a tasty healthy meal. I'll try and use similar spices or herbs over a few weeks so you can get familiar with them and build your confidence in using these. I hope you enjoyed the chickpea salad last week. You might not have bought chickpeas in a while so now that you remember just how yummy they are, guess what this week's star ingredient is...
Chickpeas - the Star of the Beans
Chickpeas, also known as Garbanzo beans, are the most widely consumed legumes in the world and a great one to start with. If you are serious about improving your diet and healthy eating, then legumes and pulses of all types should be on your shopping list. The recommended servings is 5 portions a week as a minimum, a recommendation that very few people are achieving. But if you knew just how good they were for you, I'm sure you'd start trying to hit that 5!!
Chickpeas have a delicious nutty and buttery taste and are low fat, low calorie and contain no cholesterol. Also, in these recessionary times (yawn...) they are an incredibly low cost and versatile way of feeding yourself or your family. They are nutrient rich, meaning they provide you with a range of nutrients including protein and minerals such as molybdenum and manganese which are needed for metabolic reactions as well as iron and copper which are needed for haemoglobin production and energy. Chickpeas contain more protein than any other type of plant based foods, but it important to remember this basic principle. If eating chickpeas for a meal, always combine them with a grain (such as wholegrain breads, brown rice, brown pasta) in order to achieve your full protein requirements for that meal.
Being a good source of fibre means that chickpeas are good for your heart and digestive system. They are also good for weight loss as they contain both soluble and insoluble fibre which means you tend to feel full after eating (reducing chances of over eating) and it slows the rate at which they leave the stomach (making you feel full longer or satisfied after eating).
Buying: Always buy from a store that looks like it would have a high turnover, such as a good health food store or supermarket. When buying dried, have a look at the chickpeas and make sure they are a similar size and shape and a little 'glossy', while avoiding wrinkled or cracked ones. If buying tinned, make sure there are no obvious cracks or bashes on the tin. When buying tinned chickpeas, always read the label and try to buy with no added sugar or salt or other additives. Try to buy organic, if possible.
Storage: Store in a cool, dry, dark place and in an airtight container. If you have cooked them, they will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days and in the freezer for 1-2 months.
Soaking and cooking: Always soak your chickpeas as raw can be poisonous and undercooked chickpeas can be hard on your digestive system (i.e. increase flatulence). If you are going to start eating more legumes, I'd suggest that you start stocking up on dried products. This take a little bit more organisation as you need to soak them first but if you make a big batch at a time, you can store in the freezer in individual portions. Whether you are buying tinned or dried, please wash them thoroughly before use. I'm going to give you two methods of soaking chickpeas (change amounts to suit yourself) and you must not add salt to either method: firstly, boil a litre and a half of water, add a pound of chickpeas, bring back to boil for a few mins and then cover, turn off heat and let sit overnight. Or if you are in a hurry, do the above and simply leave in for 1 hour. When time is up for either method, always pour off water down the drain, rinse and start cooking.
To cook, put enough water in the pot to cover the chickpeas with a bit extra (don't put in loads of water) and bring to boil, and then turn down and gently simmer for an hour to an hour and a half (they will need longer if you have soaked them for only a short time). Feel free to add any flavours at this stage. Some people add a bouquet garni, some simply add a bay leaf and some people add some Kombu (sea vegetable) Are you tired yet? Don't worry, they are worth it!
I have chosen two very different recipes as I believe chickpeas are quite versatile. When they are blended, like the soup I am giving below or like hummus, they provide a lovely creamy texture without having to add cream!! Also, chickpeas tend to get very well with a range of spices and tomato dishes, so I've added a Moroccan type stew below, perfect for our Autumnal evenings.
Leek and Chickpea Soup
This is a simple, feel good healthy eating soup that tastes lovely. I garnish it with chopped fresh coriander leaves to add colour and you'll have some left over from your Chickpea stew! The leeks in this are great prebiotics (this means that they feed the good bacteria in your gut helping to keep you fit and healthy for the winter). The cumin and coriander will make the dish more warming and boost the nutrient value of the dish even further. I have also chosen to cook this dish with no oil, making it great for those with cardiovascular issues.
|1 large onion (red or white), chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 cloves of garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 litre of boiling water
1*400g tin of chickpeas or 200g of dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight and cooked
200 ml of coconut milk
Freshly chopped coriander leaves
|Grate or chop garlic and leave to one side.
Put the cumin and coriander in a large saucepan and leave for a few mins on the heat. This will help extract the flavour. Take out of pan and grind in a coffee grinder or a pestle and morter. If you have neither of these, buy one (!!!) or use pre-ground.
In the meantime, put the chopped onions into the saucepan. Rather than using oil, simply add a little water and allow to sweat for 10 mins with the lid on.
Finely chop the leeks and add to onions and let sweat for a few minutes (if you are worried about the onions drying out, simply add a bit more water)
Add the ground spices, the chickpeas, and the garlic and the lemon juice, stir and add a little salt and pepper.
Add the boiling water and bring back to the boil.
Cover and let simmer for about 30 - 40 mins.
Add the coconut milk and give it a good stir.
Remove from the pan and liquidise with a hand blender or a liquidiser. If you feel its too thick, add some more boiling water. Season again if necessary.
To serve, sprinkle with a little chopped coriander and, if you like, a little lemon juice. To make it a complete meal, have with some oatcakes, some brown soda bread or some wholegrain bread.
It should keep in the fridge for 3/4 days.
You might be wondering.. what am I going to do with my left over coconut milk. It will keep in the fridge for a few days in a sealed container - I use a glass jar. One idea is a healthy breakfast option that serves two. Get a cup of brown rice and put in a pan and start to heat. Add cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon) and a little grated nutmeg. Stir until the rice starts going translucent and then add a cup of the coconut milk and a cup of water. Bring to boil and then reduce heat right down to simmer and cover and let cook for about 30-40 mins (I usually jump into the shower and get ready then) and when you serve return it should be the consistency of rice pudding. Add a chopped fruit of your choice and a few toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
This is a great winter stew and can last you over a few days. Again I'm not using any cooking oils for healthy eating. I'm going to try to get you experiment with this to see how you go. Cooking with oils has been linked to increased free radical damage especially for those with cardiovascular issues. If you want to enjoy the range of good quality oils on the market, please do, but do not cook with them. All cold pressed oils have been cold pressed for a reason, as this is the best way to consume oils.
|2 red onions, finely sliced
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
1 inch of fresh root ginger
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons of freshly chopped coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
|Grate or chop garlic and leave to one side.
Put the cumin and coriander in a large saucepan and leave for a few mins on the heat. Take out of pan and grind in a coffee grinder or a pestle and morter. Or use pre-ground.
In the meantime, put the chopped onions into the saucepan and cover with a little water and allow to sweat for 10 mins with lid on.
Grate the ginger and add to onions. Then add the turmeric, the ground cumin and coriander, the garlic and the carrot and stir well.
Add the tinned tomatoes and the chickpeas and some salt and pepper.
Add a little hot water (about 200ml) and bring to boil. Turn down heat and let simmer for about 10-15 mins or until the carrots are cooked through.
At the last minute, stir through the fresh coriander and check for seasoning.
Serve with some brown rice and a finely chopped tomato for decoration.
Have a great week!