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Chickpeas (Recipe: Chickpeas with sausage and peppers)


What the heck is a chickpea?

Does it have anything to do with chickens? Is it even a pea?

Were chickpeas (cicer arietum in Latin) named after a rather unattractive wart on Roman philosopher Cicero's nose, or was Cicero, born with a less-than-perfect nose, named after the chickpea?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are mild-flavored legumes (not peas) that look and taste a bit like soft and creamy nuts. There are two main types: Desi, which are smaller and dark greenish; and Kabuli, softer and light beige -- the chickpeas we generally buy in the US.

One of the world's healthiest foods, chickpeas provide hefty doses of dietary fiber that help lower cholesterol and blood sugar, and magnesium and folate that protect against heart disease. (Pair chickpeas with garlic and or turmeric for additional heart-healthiness.) A good source of protein, they're also rich in calcium and iron.


To use dried chickpeas, first make sure the chickpeas you're using are all the same age. If, like me, you decant your dried legumes into glass jars, you might have more than one batch mingled together. Legumes of different ages cook at different rates, so use all chickpeas from the same original package.

You'll need to soak them for 24 hours (in a bowl of water in the refrigerator, to prevent fermentation), then cook them for a couple of hours. Some cooks add a bit of baking soda to the soaking liquid, said to slow both the fermentation and the rooty-toot-toot when you eat them, but there is an aftertaste that I don't like. When you're ready to cook, drain and rinse the soaked chickpeas, then place in a large pot with three cups of water to each cup of dried chickpeas. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, and cook, skimming any foam, for 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours. Cooked chickpeas will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days, or can be frozen.

My advice? Skip the dried chickpeas; stock up on cans. The long soaking and cooking time plus increased convenience more than compensates for the loss of a few nutrients here and there (and the difference in nutrients between dried and canned is negligible).

A series of unfortunate encounters (sorry, Lemony Snicket) put me off chickpeas for many years. One taste of these chickpeas Kalyn ordered at a tapas restaurant in Boston brought me back into the fold.

Oh, and the Cicero-chickpea question? We may never know which came first.

Chickpeas with sausage and pepper

Substitute chorizo, or a spicy chicken sausage, and if you can't find piquillo peppers, use store-bought roasted red peppers. Perfect for picnics, potlucks, or a quick-and-easy supper, this recipe, adapted from Perfect Tapas, serves 4-6.


8 oz beef hot links, chorizo, or other spicy sausage
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, roughly chopped
15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 piquillo peppers, drained, patted dry, and sliced
1-1/2 Tbsp sherry vinegar, or to taste
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish


Cut the sausage into 1/2-inch dice. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but not browned. Stir in the sausage and cook until heated through, 2-3 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the chickpeas and piquillos. Season with sherry vinegar, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot or at room temperature.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Lemon onion hummus
Turkey meatballs with pasta
Pumpkin stew

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MMM i LOVE chickpeas! They are so tasty! I keep them around to snack on(yup i pop the shell/skin off after they have soaked and eat em just like that!) and i throw em in my chilli :D Im going to start making my own hummus ive got my boys eatting it rather then creamy sour cream dips. I am def goin to try this recipe tho it looks delish!

This looks definitely healthy and yummy!Thanks for sharing a recipe that is so easy to do.Your post is very informative and yummy!

Oh what a great combination -- chick peas and sausage.

I also stock canned chickpeas in the pantry. But another two reasons to cook dried beans: they have a better texture and I can control the salt to my taste.

And I'm assuming you recommend Estragon? For tapas in the South End I usually go to Toro. But if you recommend Estragon....

I love chickpeas, Lydia - whole, in hummus form... You name it.

Try the same recipe with adding the can and its liquid to the pan and let it simmer down till there's no juice. Delicious!

I love chickpeas and the photo looks great. I am printing this recipe and keeping it to make this weekend.

Chickpeas and chorizo! Can't wait to try this one!

This looks so good! Can of chickpeas are something that I actually have more than one of in my pantry! :)

I think we'll be having this for supper tonight--I've been putting a couple chickpea recipes to the side to use up mine; but I think the sausage will make this one a winner with my husband!

Chick peas/garbanzos/ceci - the greatest beans in the world! And after soaking there's always the crockpot or pressure cooker alternative to cooking on the stove top (easier and more energy efficient). There's very little you can do to them that won't taste marvelous.

I have a gazillion cans of chickpeas and we LOVE them! My husband is addicted to hummus and I love them on salads and in soups and chili. YUM! :)

Kira, you eat them without cooking them? I've never tried that. Homemade hummus is so easy, and it's great to be able to control how garlicky and how salty it is.

Kim, this is a really good and very easy recipe.

Julia, Estragon was fabulous when we were there, and it has the added benefit of a real Spanish market right next door.

Patricia, I love love love hummus.

Joan, I'll definitely try this -- what a neat idea. I automatically drain off the can liquid from all canned beans, so this will be new to me.

Treehouse Chef, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Natasha, hope you do try it. Use real chorizo, if you have it, for a nice spicy kick.

Bridget, April: I always have a few cans in my pantry, too. Chickpeas are so versatile.

Melanie, I hope all the chickpea recipes will make you want to buy more chickpeas after you use up your stash!

Sandra, I've been making other beans in the slow cooker, but haven't tried chickpeas yet. How long do you cook them?

OOOOO!! I have chickpeas (in every form it can possibly come in) and I have some left over sausage and of course there are still a few roasted red peppers. There's going to be some good eating tonight.

Lydia, I have a casserole full of chickpea and pasta soup - however, I evidently used too much pasta and it absorbed the broth. I'd like to freeze some of it in portion sizes and wondered if there would be a problem.

I love chickpeas. I really want to try them roasted as a snack.

Kim, sounds like you have a perfect pantry!

Louise, you can definitely freeze the thick soup, and then when you defrost it, add more broth or water to thin it out.

Pam, the roasted chickpeas we had in Boston were amazing, and completely changed my mind about chickpeas.

I love chickpeas! I'm going to try making falafels this weekend. :)

I love chickpeas. Sometimes just with a little sea salt and black pepper!

In trinidad we call them channa, fried and tossed with salt and red pepper flakes, they are awesome. They are also brilliant curried :) I've seen some Italian recipes with them that I've tried and loved as well :D

Hi Lydia

I am from India. Chick peas are pretty common in our diet and we do not use canned ones.

I think the 'aftertaste' that bothers you can be avoided if you use dry ones and soak overnight(in excess of 6-8 hrs)with an iron nail or some iron stuff. We usually use pressure cooker to boil the same. Usually, in Indian conditions, 30 minutes on the pressure cooker boils it perfectly,... along with the iron thing(it helps in faster cooking). And if you still feel the smell, drain and wash once or twice before using for a recipe.

You can try this and let me know

Here in the UK Chickpeas are either very expensive for quality (£4+ per jar) or canned/dried which taste like bullets if you try the above method to cook, I called Sam Clarke of Moro, London and asked his advice and he said he has the same problem and now uses a pressure cooker to get perfect soft and delicious chickpeas however it takes about 45 minutes, but the outcome is well worth it.

Michelle, I think my very first exposure to chickpeas was falafel, when I visited Israel at age 13. I've been a falafel fan ever since.

Natashya, the crunch of sea salt would be so delicious with the chickpeas. Do you heat them first?

TriniGourmet, curried chickpeas are delicious, though it was a curry dish that turned me off chickpeas for many years. Had more to do with the cook than with the recipe, though.

Arundhati, so maybe I should soak them in a cast iron pot? Fascinating. (Anyone else have experience with this? I'm quite keen to try it!) Thank you so much for this suggestion.

BJ, yet another reason I should consider buying a pressure cooker. I've always been a bit afraid of them, as the old ones would tend to explode, but I understand the technology is better now. And it's hard to beat the speed for cooking beans and legumes. Thanks for sharing such expert advice!

Looks delicious, and I agree, the photo is great! I could eat that every day.

I'm so glad to see you advocating the canned approach, because if I had to rely on soaking, I would never eat chickpeas, and I really love them. I had no idea they were so nutritious, so, time to pick up a new supply. And, the tapas-style stew sounds pretty tasty!

I had chickpeas today. I'm going to try your recipe. You have a lot of wonderful chickpea recipes. Very cool!


Kalyn, thank you -- as you know, I've been working hard on photography to try to improve my shots.

TW, some day I suppose I'll buy a pressure cooker, and then perhaps I'll switch to dried chickpeas. But for now, I'm firmly in the canned camp. And this dish was really good.

Paz, if you have any chickpea recipes to share, I'd love to expand my repertoire.

On your pressure cooker bit,... yes in India too there are two styles of cookers available. One where the top lid fits 'over' the lower bowl and the second where the top lid is to be inserted inside the bowl and then lid is to be locked.

I prefer the second one.Even on accident, the lid can not fly away with its contents. You can check out

I LOVE this combination of chickpea's and sausage. I'll use andouille because that's my favorite type of sausage. I also love roasted chickpeas as a crunchy snack alternative to chips and have an "easy-peasy" recipe for them. ;-)

Arundhati, I will definitely look into pressure cookers. there have been many times lately when I wished I had one. Thanks for the information.

Edie, if I were a pork eater, I'd use andouille, too. Or chorizo. Both have a slightly fatty quality, as well as the spiciness, that works so well in this dish. Enjoy!

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