In all the excitement of cutting edge plant-based ingredients, products, and dishes, it’s easy to forget the humble legume that’s been there for us all along: the incredible, edible chickpea.
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are typically beige, but they can also be found in red, green, and black varieties. Au naturel, chickpeas have a creamy, almost nutty flavor, but they have an amazing versatility that makes them perfect for a huge range of dishes.
They’re also cheap, often readily available, and nutrient-dense. Whether tinned or dried, chickpeas are a rich source of protein and fiber along with iron, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, selenium, and B6, also known as folate, which supports other vitamin absorption.
There are hundreds of ways to prepare chickpeas, from egg-style scrambles to omelets, bean burgers to desserts, as well as cocktails and even ice cream. (Plus the Middle Eastern and vegetarian staple of hummus, a tried-and-tested classic for pack lunches or parties.)
Here are some of our very favorite chickpea recipes.
The very best chickpea recipes
This basic recipe is a veganized version of classic French meringue, making it the perfect choice for whatever meringue-based sweet treats you’re cooking up. It uses aquafaba, which is the viscous liquid in which chickpeas have been soaked, cooked, and stored. (You can also substitute juice from cannellini or soybeans, but chickpeas are arguably the best choice.)
Thanks to its emulsifying and binding properties, aquafaba can easily replace egg whites in almost any recipe, including meringue. While you can use it straight from the tin, reducing it on the stove makes it thicker, easier to whip, and closer to egg whites in consistency.
Butter chickpea curry
Chickpeas are a staple ingredient in Indian cooking, and this modified version of a traditional chicken makhani dish (commonly known as “butter chicken”) makes them the star of the show. With a tangy, creamy, tomato sauce, butter chickpea curry makes a deliciously nutritious, low-impact main meal for any night of the week.
Fun fact: traditional butter chicken curries were used as a tasty way to finish off leftover tandoori chicken from previous meals. So get out those dried chickpeas that have been in your cupboard since 2019 and get cooking!
Chickpea tuna salad
Like many chickpea-based recipes, this tuna salad is quick, healthy, delicious, and useful for anything from a lunchtime sandwich to a sushi dinner for friends and family. It’s also easily customizable, and adding some fresh chilis or dried nori seaweed (for a surprisingly authentic “fishy” flavor) can shake things up a bit. It even works for casseroles and pasta bakes!