You’ve probably seen any number of lists of food items that no well-stocked pantry should be without. Frequently at the top of the list are canned beans, especially chickpeas (also called garbanzo or ceci beans). It’s no surprise that the smooth texture and nutty taste of these legumes are enjoyed by adults and kids alike. But short of sprinkling them on a green salad or using them to make hummus, you may be wondering what else can you do with them?
Lots of things, it turns out! Chickpeas are ubiquitous in the cuisines of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and India, all of which are known for their emphasis on fresh, unprocessed foods. For example, chickpeas are frequently paired with pasta in Italy and bulgur (cracked wheat) in Lebanon and Turkey. The Spanish love them in stews and the Moroccans in their soups and tagines. Chickpeas are the centerpiece of chana masala, a very popular Indian curry dish. Dried chickpeas are even ground into flour (often called gram flour) and used by the French to make a type of flatbread called socca.
Chickpeas are also a highly nourishing food. A one-cup serving provides significant amounts of non-animal protein, insoluble fiber, and various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The fiber assists in the proper functioning of the digestive system, especially the large intestine. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants provide important support to the heart, lungs, and nervous system. The combination of all of these substances helps regulate blood sugar levels in the body, a critical factor in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Today I’m sharing a chickpea salad, which I developed more than ten years ago after a visit to my favorite French bistro specializing in Provencal cuisine. The ingredients are chickpeas, artichoke hearts, and a roasted red pepper. Of course, you could make each of these things from scratch, but why bother? All three are widely available in cans or jars with very little nutrient loss. In this regard, while the salad was inspired by the flavors of Provence, it was developed to meet the needs of a busy mom.
All you need to do is thoroughly drain and rinse the chickpeas and artichoke hearts (which eliminates much of the sodium that was added during the canning process), chop the artichoke hearts and roasted red pepper into small pieces (I like them to be about the same size as the chickpeas), and then toss everything together with a vinaigrette. That’s it. In about ten minutes, you’ll have a super easy salad that not only is nutrient dense but tastes delicious. And besides, who couldn’t use a little reminder of Provencal sunshine in the middle of January?
Chickpea, Artichoke, and Roasted Red Pepper Salad
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas
1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts
1 red pepper, roasted with seeds and inner membranes removed
To make the dressing, whisk the Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar together until the mustard has fully dissolved into the vinegar. Drizzle the olive oil into the mixture, whisking continuously until the oil is fully incorporated and the mixture appears to have thickened slightly. Whisk in the salt and pepper. Set aside.
To make the salad, thoroughly drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them in a large bowl. Drain and rinse the artichoke hearts (gently squeezing them if necessary to remove any excess water) and roughly chop them into small, chickpea-sized pieces. Place them in the bowl with the chickpeas. Cut the roasted red pepper into small, chickpea-sized pieces (discarding any extraneous seeds and inner membranes) and place them in the same bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to combine.
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