Why Chickpeas Should Be the Star of Your Quarantine Pantry

I see your potatoes and raise you these delicious, nutritious legumes.


Delicious, nutritious and affordable, chickpeas are the perfect pantry staple. Photo by Clark and Company/Getty Images

If you clicked on this, I’d like to imagine that you’re taking an active interest in the new guidelines of health and wellness in the age of coronavirus. You’re being smart about outdoor exercise. You’re keeping non-emergency doctors appointments to a minimum (and opting for telemedicine whenever possible). You’re being especially conscious of how you grocery shop, and minimizing in-store store visits by stocking your pantry in a responsible way. All of these guidelines exist to keep you and your fellow Philadelphians healthy and safe. Today, I’m going to add one to the list to help keep you happy and well-fed. Y’all, it is time to start buying chickpeas.

Potatoes have long been considered a pantry staple because they are affordable, filling, and delicious when roasted, mashed and fried. You know what else is affordable, filling, and delicious when roasted, mashed and fried? Chickpeas. Freaking chickpeas are.

Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas can be purchased for 85 cents a can at Trader Joe’s and Giant, $1.29 a can at Acme, and 99 cents a can at Sprouts and Whole Foods. As someone who eats a lot of chickpeas, I can tell you that I often stretch one can over two meals—and an average of 50 cents per meal is something I feel pretty good about right now.

As someone who is currently staring at one of the three cans of chickpeas she has in the kitchen cabinet that passes for her pantry, I can also tell you that one can of chickpeas has a shelf life of about two years, and one cup of chickpeas has 12 grams of protein and eight grams of fiber. That’s 28 percent of the daily recommended fiber intake! Now that we’re doing a lot more sitting around, that fiber is going to matter.

As someone who, more often than not, also wishes those chickpeas were potatoes (more specifically, potato chips), I have one more thing to tell you: they make for a pretty decent stand-in. Drain, rinse, and dry the contents of one can, then add them to a bowl. Cover in olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic salt, then spread them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 18 minutes at 450 degrees. They’ll be crispy, crackly, and, most importantly, crunchy. Feel free to snack with abandon, and to experiment with spice combinations. (I can also vouch for Philly nutritionist Liz McMahon’s chili lime roasted chickpeas, and am known—by the one other person currently eating them, my husband—to occasionally add curry powder to the salt-pepper-garlic powder combo.)

Chickpeas add a delightful crunch to salads, burrito bowls and grain bowls. They fill out curries with extra plant protein. They can be quickly blended for homemade hummus. If you are an Alison Roman fan who hasn’t yet attempted her frizzled chickpeas (find the full recipe at the bottom of this NPR interview), you should know that that recipe is going to become as iconic as #TheCookies and #TheStew. As Roman suggests in her cookbook Nothing Fancy, I have eaten those frizzled chickpeas with a fried egg for a full meal more than once during quarantine and felt fully satisfied. They are warm, salty, and savory, and taste delicious kissed with yolk—just like the starchy hash browns I sometimes wish they were.

When I go grocery shopping these days, I buy four cans of chickpeas at a time. To me, this feels like stocking up without hoarding, because I know my husband and I will eat those four cans within a week. We could eat more, but we don’t want to be greedy. And also, we’ve got limited recipes in our rotation, so if we get tired of the ones that include chickpeas, I’m not sure what we’re gonna do.

Speaking of recipes, here’s a few more to get you started:

Chef Angela Cicala’s 5-Ingredient Pasta Ceci
This extremely comforting, extremely easy-to-make pasta dish, courtesy the co-owner of Cicala at the Divine Lorraine, went extremely viral when FooBooz published it a few weeks back.

Cookie Dough You Can Eat Raw
This recipe uses chickpeas in place of wheat flour. Sounds crazy, but actually pretty satisfying!

Plant Based Blonde’s Oil-Free Caesar Salad
Confession: I have not yet made the dressing or the cashew parm for this vegan Caesar (it’s on the calendar for next week), but I have stolen the idea of subbing chickpeas for croutons on my salads.

Mango Chickpea Salad
I make this delicious alternative to lettuce-based salads from The Illustrated Quick Cook at least once every two weeks. My suggestions: sub in cilantro for the mint, roast the chickpeas, and double the amount of mango so you have leftovers.

Alison Roman’s Spiced Chickpea Stew
Otherwise known as the stew that launched one thousand Instagrams, this one-pot dish is creamy, hearty, and extremely photogenic.

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