Freshly cooked dried chickpeas have a nutty, sweet flavor and tender, creamy texture that’s far better than canned beans. As a bonus, dried chickpeas generate a rich broth as they simmer, which can be used instead of chicken or vegetable broth in soups, stews and braises. Refrigerated in the broth, cooked chickpeas last five days.
To prepare them, soak 1 pound dried chickpeas overnight in 8 cups water with 2 tablespoons kosher salt. When ready to cook, drain, and in a Dutch oven combine the chickpeas, 6 cups water, 1½ tablespoons salt, 1 bunch cilantro stems (bundled together with twine), 2 árbol chilies or 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper, 1 large carrot (cut into pieces), 1 onion (peeled and halved), 1 garlic bulb (top third cut off) and 1 teaspoon cumin or coriander seeds (optional). Bring to a simmer over high heat, then cover and transfer to the oven and bake at 275°F. Cook until fully tender and creamy, 1½ to 2 hours. Once cooled, discard the vegetables. Reserve the garlic; when cool enough to handle, squeeze out the cloves, then mince to a paste and fold into the chickpeas. Taste and season with salt. Store the beans in their cooking liquid in an airtight container for up to 5 days. A pound of dried chickpeas yields roughly 6 cups cooked (about four 15-ounce cans).
I use the chickpeas and their broth in Persian-style chicken noodle soup or quick minestrone, just add pasta, green beans and spinach. They also are great for a Venetian-style scampi of shrimp and chickpeas sautéed with garlic, chilies and basil. Or try smashing chickpeas coarsely with fresh herbs, harissa paste and abundant olive oil to accompany steak or lamb.
Finally, if remembering to soak beans the night before is challenging, soak them in advance and store them in a zip-close bag in the freezer. They don’t need to be defrosted before proceeding with the recipe.
How to Use
Chickpea and Yogurt Soup: This is a simplified version of one we learned from Yasmin Khan, author of “The Saffron Tales.” Cook 1 large minced onion and 4 peeled-and-smashed garlic cloves with a large pinch kosher salt in 2 tablespoons salted butter until softened. Add ½ cup basmati rice and 4 cups broth (chickpea, chicken or vegetable). Boil, then add 2 to 3 cups cooked chickpeas and simmer over low until the rice is tender and the broth has thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. Off heat, stir in 1 cup of whole milk yogurt and ½ to ¾ cup mixed chopped fresh herbs (such as dill, flat-leaf parsley, cilantro or mint, or 1½ cups chopped baby arugula). Season to taste and serve with harissa.
Crispy Chickpeas: These are excellent as a snack or appetizer. Or try them in hearty salads, sprinkled onto hummus, or instead of croutons in soups and stews. Make sure the chickpeas are drained and patted dry before adding the cornstarch; otherwise they’ll pick up too much starch and turn gummy. In a medium bowl, generously sprinkle 2 cups cooked chickpeas (well-dried) with cornstarch and toss to coat. Transfer to a mesh strainer and shake to remove excess cornstarch. In a 10-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 4 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring, until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with 1 teaspoon each cumin and smoked paprika and ½ teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper.
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