how-to soak, batch cook and use your chickpeas

I am a slave to batch-cooking when life gets crazy. Which seems to be always with a young family :) I want to share with you one of my favourite legumes, the chickpea AKA garbanzo bean. If you are looking to experiment with more plant-based proteins then these nutrient dense wee chickpeas are great to start with.

They are light in flavour and make a great addition to wraps, stir-fry's, pizza, pasta, casseroles, salads, appetizers and anything in the slow cooker just to name a few. I also love to sneak them into my daughters puree's. In terms of health benefits, chickpeas are an excellent source of protein, fiber, the powerful antioxidant manganese, folate {great for expectant mama's}, iron and more.

Now let's get down and dirty, and talk about how to batch-cook these beauties, how to store them for easy meal prep and some fun recipe inspiration.

For the newbie or experienced legume lover I want to challenge you to cook your own and skip the cans. Chickpeas are not only incredibly affordable when bought dried, and in bulk but they are actually are really easy to cook. The best way to do it in my opinion, is to cook a whole bunch at once so you set yourself up for a few weeks.

You can buy your chickpeas from a grocery store, Farmer's Market or local health food store. I source organic dried chickpeas from my local health food store and I like to cook a pretty good sized bag at one time, in order to save time later.

With that being said, if I am pressed for time and didn't plan ahead - Eden Organic is a line of canned goodies that I do trust.

How-to Soak + Cook'em: 

  • Before you head to bed, place your chickpeas in a large sized pot {that you will eventually be cooking them in} and cover with lots of water. It doesn't need to be measured but just enough water because they will absorb a lot of water overnight. Let the chickpeas soak overnight {see more about the benefits of soaking below}.
  • In the AM use a strainer and rinse the chickpeas really really well with clean water and discard the old water.
  • Once they are rinsed well, place them in a pot and again cover with lots of water. I usually leave a couple of inches from the top of my pot.
  • Bring water to a rolling boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Cook for approximately 30 minutes or until the chickpeas are soft. You don't want them to get TOO soft and mushy, so just keep an eye on them and sample until they meet your desired taste and texture.

I promise, once you have tasted what a REAL chickpea should really taste like, you will never go back to canned!

Why should you soak your legumes, grains, nuts and some seeds? 

Doing so will remove the PHYTIC ACID, and phytic acid blocks nutrients from being absorbed in the digestive tract and even binds to minerals leaving us deficient. By soaking your chickpeas you are neutralizing enzyme inhibitors that make it hard for our bodies to digest and absorb the nutrients properly. Thus it will improve the bodies ability to use the nutrients and cut down on the digestive upset {re: beans beans the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot...} that some people experience when starting to eat more lentils and legumes.

For those of you starting to eat more beans, lentils and peas I would recommend starting small. Start with 1/4 of a cup in a recipe and over time work your way up so that your body can adjust.

Now what do you do with all of your chickpeas?

When I made a big batch I ...

  1. Leave some in the fridge in a mason jar to use as an easy addition to meals or snacks in the next couple of days.
  2. Then I allow the rest to come to room temperature and add 1-2 cups to zip lock bags. Zip-em up tight, store in the freezer and voila, easy additions to lunch or dinner. They should be safe in the freezer for a couple of months but mine don't usually last more than a month.

To use from frozen, fill your sink with some warm-ish water and bring to an unthawed state. This might take 15-20 minutes. Once they are unthawed you can throw them in any recipe. So easy! The best part is, is that you can do this to most legumes so there is no reason you can't have a freezer full of healthy protein on hand at all times.

Chickpea Recipe Inspiration: How many ways to use a chickpea you ask? Well there are plenty...

Here is a fun little hummus making guide - a whole lot of ways via Shape.com

What are your favourite ways to use chickpeas? 

Good luck in the kitchen soaking and cooking your precious chickpeas!