It’s hard to imagine a day in Israel without chickpeas, one of the earliest
cultivated vegetables in our region and the basis for our beloved humous and
felafel. In fact, most of the chickpeas we consume in Israel are home grown, and
we even produce enough to export.
Chickpeas are amazingly healthy, rich
in a special kind of dietary fiber that can help lower LDL cholesterol and
triglycerides. One-third of a cup of the beans per day can help control blood
sugar and insulin secretion. Garbanzo bean fiber can also be metabolized by
bacteria in the colon to produce relatively large amounts of short chain fatty
acids that can help lower the risk of colon problems, including colon
In addition, chickpeas are an excellent source of folate,
tryptophan, copper, phosphorus, iron, antioxidant phytonutrients like flavonoids
and anthocyanins and the mineral manganese among others.
And if all that
were not enough, chickpeas also contain valuable amounts of polyunsaturated
fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid from which
all other omega-3 fats are made.
The best and most thrifty way of
preparing chickpeas is to cook them yourself from scratch, preferably after
soaking them overnight. You can also use the quick soak method by boiling raw
chickpeas for two or three minutes in enough water to cover them, and then
letting them sit for an hour. Drained and covered in fresh water, they’ll cook
up within about 45 minutes.
Although many people add baking soda to the
cooking water to soften the beans, it’s best to do without, since baking soda
helps destroy valuable B vitamins.
If you’re in a hurry, there are other
good possibilities as well.
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Frozen chickpeas are precooked.
are produced by Sunfrost and Pri Hagalil, the latter of which has just come out
with a new particularly good product. Although canned chickpeas supposedly
contain virtually the same nutritional value as those you cook yourself, their
taste is inferior, and I like to avoid canned products as much as possible due
to concern over possible BPA content in the can and ecological
Also available and recommended are crushed plain
chickpeas, available in the same type of plastic containers as tomato
But this week, I’d like to introduce you to another way to enjoy
chickpeas, by using chickpea flour, which is sold in health-food and spice
stores but can also be made at home by grinding dry chickpeas in a coffee
grinder or Vitamix blender. Traditionally used for Persian gondi but also for
Italian flatbreads like socca and farinata, chickpea flour can be used for a
gluten-free pizza-like base for pizza or a delicious coating for
schnitzel.CHICKPEA PIZZA Makes one, serves 2-4
✔ 2⁄3 cup chickpea flour
✔ 1⁄3 tsp. salt
✔ 1 cup water
✔ 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
medium tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
✔ 2 Tbsp. red onion, finely chopped
3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
✔ Coarsely ground black pepper
small basil leaves or 2-3 large, shredded
Preheat the broiler. Mix chickpea
flour and salt and sift into a medium bowl.
Add just enough of the water
to make a smooth paste, then add the rest of the water gradually to avoid lumps.
Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let stand at room temperature for a half
Heat 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large (about 30-cm.)
non-stick oven-proof frying pan. Stir the batter again till uniform and pour it
into the pan. Drizzle the remaining 2 Tbsp. of olive oil on top. Cook over
medium-high heat until the bottom is golden and crisp (use a spatula to lift up
an edge) and the top is almost set, 2 to 3 minutes. If you notice any air
bubbles developing, burst them with the tip of a knife or a
Sprinkle the tomato, onion, Parmesan and pepper over the top,
then place the pan under the broiler and cook until the pizza is golden and
crisp on top, about 4 to 5 minutes. Slide the pizza onto a work surface,
sprinkle the basil leaves on top, cut into wedges and serve
VARIATIONS: Serve the same base focaccia style: Instead of tomato,
onion and cheese, top the crust with sliced fresh garlic, small sliced red onion
or shallot, sprigs of rosemary.
Other topping possibilities: marinated
artichoke hearts, lightly sautéed mushrooms and thyme.CHICKPEA FLOUR AND
ZA’ATAR SCHNITZEL Makes 1-2
✔ 1 piece chicken breast
✔ 1⁄4 cup chickpea flour
1 Tbsp. za’atar seasoning
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. dried coriander
✔ 1⁄4 tsp. paprika
beaten with 1 tsp. water
✔ Olive oil for frying
Separate the schnitzel
into two pieces, removing the fibers between the two pieces. Wash the chicken,
rinse, pat dry and set aside.
In a wide bowl, beat the egg and water. In
a second bowl, mix the chickpea flour, za’atar, coriander and
Heat a shallow layer of olive oil in a large non-stick frying
Dip the chicken in the egg, the flour mixture, and again in the egg.
Sauté on both sides as you would regular schnitzel.
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