This year has been declared the International Year of the Pulse by the United Nations.What’s a pulse? It’s a legume with edible seeds that are sold dried. Pulses include dried chickpeas, for example, but not fresh peas. Pulses are being promoted because they are highly nutritious and economically accessible. They foster sustainable agriculture and they promote biodiversity.Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are one of the earliest cultivated pulses and are believed to have first been domesticated in the Middle East. With their nutty flavor and somewhat meaty texture, chickpeas rival lentils as the best-liked legume in the region. Cooks in the Mideast have developed many ways to use chickpeas. In addition to being the main ingredient in hummus and in various versions of falafel, they are roasted and enjoyed as snacks like peanuts.During the summertime we like to prepare and eat chickpea salads on their own or as a filling for a colorful chickpea wrap. We first tasted this Turkish wrap 13 years ago at a casual workers’ restaurant in Gaziantep in Southeast Anatolia. People at the popular restaurant were eating a simple sandwich of chickpeas with diced tomatoes, parsley and slivers of onion rolled up in flatbread. (See recipe for Gaziantep chickpea salad.) Unlike hummus, for this sandwich the chickpeas are whole or slightly mashed, not pureed, and there is no tehina. Like falafel, these sandwiches are also sold as street food.A different recipe for making chickpea wraps is given by Ala Barzinji in her book Traditional Kurdish Food – An Insight into Kurdish Culinary Heritage, which features recipes from Iraqi Kurdistan. Barzinji purees her cooked chickpeas with lemon juice and a little water. Next she heats turmeric, allspice and paprika in a little olive oil, and cooks the chickpea puree in this spiced oil. To finish, she sprinkles the chickpea puree with chives and wraps it in flatbreads.Another light chickpea dish that is perfect for warm days is Barzinji’s chickpeas with chard. She heats cooked chickpeas in a light sauce flavored with onions sautéed in olive oil, tomato puree and paprika, and cooks chard or spinach in the mixture. (See recipe.) For a special occasion brunch, you might want to serve fattet hummus. Aglaia Kremezi, author of Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts, makes it by spreading spiced cooked chickpeas on a bed of toasted bread and tops it with a rich yet refreshing yogurt-tehina sauce and with toasted pine nuts. (See recipe.) These dishes come together quickly if you use canned chickpeas. Even better, use dried chickpeas that you have cooked in advance and frozen. This is what Kremezi highly recommends. Indeed, Kremezi, who teaches cooking on the Greek Island of Kea, considers precooking pulses a basic preparation in Mediterranean cooking.“Although you can easily find canned chickpeas and beans,” wrote Kremezi, “...for me there is no comparison to the taste of the dry, organic legumes you soak and cook on your own stove. If you love legumes, you obviously feel frustrated every time you want to make a dish with beans or chickpeas and realize that you needed to have planned a day in advance. But that problem can be easily solved if you precook and freeze considerable quantities of beans, chickpeas, and grains. You can take out as much as you need for each dish and finish cooking them with the other ingredients.”By precooking the chickpeas, you can have any of these dishes ready in a matter of minutes. Faye Levy is the author of Feast from the Mideast.