Thursday, September 6, 2012

Go Crazy On Chickpeas

Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans are a legume that is high in protein and fiber, and low in fat. Grown in the Mediterranean, these beans are a major staple all over the world. The Arabic word for Chickpeas is Hummus which we know as a creamy spread used in many recipes. A vegan chef should get acquainted with Chickpeas and their many uses. Incorporating protein into as many recipes as possible is one of the easiest ways to build a balanced daily menu. I incorporate Chickpeas and sesame seeds into my basic hummus paste recipe to complete the protein. You can use whatever seeds or nuts that you want, but I do it for the nutrition found in sesame seeds. By putting the seeds or nuts into the food processor, you will create a smooth and creamy base. Now, here is the key; Depending on what you plan to do with the basic hummus paste, you will add the rest of your ingredients. A basic hummus recipe calls for oil. If hummus is all that you plan to make, then olive oil is a perfect oil. If you are going to make a cheesy paste filling for lasagne, then olive oil is perfect. If you plan on making a cheesy type dessert like cheesecake, then something more tasteless like Canola or Grapeseed oil might be a better choice.

I generally make two large cans of Chickpea paste at once. By having a container of creamy chickpea paste in the fridge, here is what I do. I take out however much I will be using for Hummus and add garlic, herbs, and whatever else I want in my hummus for the week and use that. We use hummus in wraps, on celery, for dips, etc. If I am making lasagne, I separate some out and add a little garlic, a little extra herbs, maybe some olives or nuts, and put it in the layers of lasagne. If I am making cheesecake, I separate some out and add a little Agave and some cashews and re-puree it in the food processor so that it makes a creamy and sweet vegan cheesecake filler. 

Chickpeas are high in zinc, folate, and protein. When you add nuts or seeds, you can complete the protein, and adding herbs only adds more nutrients. With the basic hummus already creamed in the fridge, you’re on your way to salad dressings, hummus, cheesecake, lasagne, and more. I have discovered these recipes simply by having the basic creamed Chickpeas on hand and have gotten creative with it. Try putting some in your salad dressing bottle with lemon, vinegar, herbs, miso, and water, Voila! See what I mean? 

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