Chickpea Plant

Chickpeas are perhaps better known by their Spanish name garbanzo beans. They are a roundish, beige member of the legume family grown primarily in western Asia, India, and in the Mediterranean. Most people are familiar with chickpeas as either used whole in salads, or ground up to make the popular Middle Eastern dish hummus.

The name chickpea came from the French word chiche and Italians call them ceci beans. In Italian the word ‘ceci’ means both wart and chickpea. At some stage it was believed that you could cure warts by touching it to a chickpea plant at a new moon.

Chick peas are also a frequent ingredient in Italian dishes. They may be used to make pasta and beans. They are often added to marinated vegetables and are usually on an antipasto platter. They may also be recognizable as a staple in three-bean salad, which is comprised of green beans, kidney beans and chick peas and pickled with vinegar or stored in vinegar and oil.

Chick peas are an excellent nutritional choice. A serving of chick peas, about 4 ounces or half a cup, has about 17 grams of dietary fiber and 19 grams of protein. They are also considered more digestible than most other beans. Dried chick peas cook much more quickly than other dried beans.

Chickpea Pod

Shelled Chickpeas

Salad or Side Course

Chickpea and Spinach Salad

Serves 4

Great as a side salad with grilled meat, it can also work as a vegetarian entree.


  • One 15.5-ounce cans chickpeas, low-sodium, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Greek nonfat yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 2 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 2 cups lightly packed)
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh mint


 In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas, parsley and onion.

 In a small bowl whisk together the oil, lemon juice and zest, oregano, cayenne, salt, and black pepper.

 Pour the dressing over the chickpea mixture and toss to coat evenly.

 In another small bowl stir together the yogurt, orange juice and zest, and honey.

 Serve the chickpea salad over a bed of spinach leaves. Top with the yogurt sauce and garnish with the mint.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Serves 6


  • 8 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water to cover, soaking liquid reserved
  • or  two 15.5-ounce cans chickpeas, low-sodium, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 16 whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) yellow or red cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 English cucumber (8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 red or green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 2 carrots (4 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 scallions, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil


 Place chickpeas, soaking liquid, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large pot. Liquid should cover beans by 2 inches; adjust as necessary. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas are tender, about 40 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a bowl. (Makes 3 cups chickpeas.) Or substitute two 15.5-ounce cans chickpeas, low-sodium, drained and rinsed.

 Using a chef’s knife, press flat side of the blade back and forth across garlic and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to make a paste. Transfer to a bowl, and whisk in peppercorns, vinegar, oil, and oregano. Pour dressing over chickpeas. Let stand, stirring once or twice, for 30 minutes. Mix in tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, carrots, scallions, parsley, and basil.

Vegetarian Main Dishes

Cauliflower and Chickpea Stew

Serves 4-6


  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1 chopped celery stalk
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can low sodium chopped tomatoes (15 ounces)
  • 2 cans low sodium chickpeas (15 ounces each), rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped 


 Preheat the oven to 400º F. Toss together the cauliflower, 3 tablespoons olive oil and a little salt and place on a baking sheet. Roast until fork tender, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside.

 In a large pot, heat the remaining olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add in the shallots, carrot, celery and garlic and cook until vegetables are tender. Add in the Italian seasoning, fennel seed and cayenne pepper and stir about 15 seconds.

 Turn the heat down to a simmer and add in the vegetable stock, chopped tomatoes, chickpeas and roasted cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer the stew over medium heat until it thickens slightly, about 20 minutes.

This stew can be served over rice or couscous.

Chickpea Cakes with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

Makes 4 chickpea cakes and 1 cup cucumber-yogurt sauce


  • 1/2 an English cucumber, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 green onion, white and green parts, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Arrange the grated cucumber in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with salt. Let drain for 10 minutes and place on a paper towel. Squeeze dry. Stir in the remaining ingredients together in a serving bowl and add the cucumber. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 15 ounces canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), mashed fine with a fork
  • 1/2 cup plain panko crumbs
  • 1 green onion, white and green parts, chopped fine
  • Olive oil, for sauteeing


While the cucumber drains, in a large bowl, whisk the egg, then whisk in the yogurt, olive oil, spices and seasoning. Stir in the chickpeas, panko, green onion and cilantro, combining without overworking. Evenly divide mixture in four; gently form four one-inch thick patty with your hands, compressing the mixture just enough to hold it together. Place on a plate and cover with waxed paper.  Refrigerate for an hour or longer.

In a large skillet, heat oil just enough oil to barely cover the bottom of the skillet until shimmery. Add the chickpea cakes and cook without moving for four to five minutes per side or until golden and hot clear through.

Serve with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce on the side.

Tip: These cakes can be made ahead and reheated on a grill pan or outdoor grill. They also freeze well.

Main Dishes

Grilled Fish With Chickpea Artichoke Salad

4 Servings



  • 2 tablespoons ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black  pepper
  • 4 thick fish fillets (salmon, tuna, or swordfish; 1 1/2 lb)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • 1/2 cup canned or frozen quartered artichokes, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bag baby arugula leaves (4–5 oz)
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas (garbanzos), drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper


Heat outdoor grill or grill pan. Brush fish with olive oil.

Combine fennel, salt, and pepper; then coat both sides of fish.

Grill fish 5 minutes on each side or until 145°F registers on a thermometer and fish flakes easily.

Chop artichokes and onion.

Combine arugula, chickpeas, onions, and artichokes.

Whisk vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper until blended; add to salad. Toss.

Serve grilled fish over chickpea salad.

Spicy Penne with Broccoli, Sausage and Chickpeas                             

4 Servings


  • 1 bunch broccoli or broccoli rabe; trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 pound penne or whole wheat penne
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian hot sausage, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic; finely chopped
  • 1 –  15-oz can chickpeas; rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon oregano; freshly chopped
  • 1 15-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • Crushed red pepper flakes 


Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add penne, and cook 4 minutes less than package instructions; add broccoli. Cook 2 minutes or until penne is al dente and broccoli is bright green. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, drain pasta and broccoli; set aside.

 Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and brown, about 5-6 minutes.

Add garlic to sausage and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and chickpeas. Season with salt, crushed red pepper and oregano, and simmer for a few minutes. Add pasta, broccoli and reserved cooking liquid to the sauce and heat.

Add cheese and toss to coat.