The humble chickpea. It’s the legume of choice for many, if for no other reason but because it is familiar and when you talk about it, most people know what it is. And while they’re tasty in your stews and curries, and are clearly the star when it comes to hummus, I bet you didn’t know how many other things the chickpea could be good for. If you don’t have a can of them in your pantry, or a dry bag already soaking, you better stock your cupboard, because after this, you aren’t going to be satisfied just dumping them on to your plate and calling it dinner . . .
1. Cheese Sauce
You know that creamy vegan cheese sauce that you see all over Pinterest and on every other vegan food blog? And you get all excited, only to look at the recipe and see that it takes cashews. Lots of cashews. And I don’t know about you, but dropping $10-$20 on a bag of nuts doesn’t always fit into my food budget. While it’s true, the cashew version is delicious, and creamy, and all it’s cracked up to be, it’s also like a sauce made of gold (or truffles), given the price of cashews. But don’t worry: there are chickpeas for that. And given that they’re usually only a dollar or two a can, this cheese sauce doesn’t even require you to practice moderation! Check out the recipe here and get ready to be blown away!
The non-chocolate version of brownies, blondies are typically made with white flour, often white chocolate, and lots of sugar. While they may be tasty, they aren’t exactly the healthiest option, and certainly aren’t good if you are trying to lose weight or keep your caloric intake in the lower end. But you don’t have to give up the fudgy, gooey consistency of the traditional calorie rich blondie: use chickpeas instead! Chickpeas help add moisture to the recipe, lending the fudginess, while also helping hold the ingredients together, acting as a binding agent. When you combine them with gluten free, or whole grain flours and natural sweeteners, your result is healthy blondies that are packed with fiber and protein minus all the sugar and fat. Here’s a tiramisu version or a one using matcha, and this one is chocolate chip cookie dough flavoured. Dreamy.
3. Chickpea Cheese
This vegan cheese uses chickpea flour instead of canned chickpeas. You can usually purchase chickpea flour at the grocery store in the oriental or international foods section. It may also be called besan four, so have a look next time you are there. Once you find it, grab a pot and get ready to make chickpea cheese! Although the cheese doesn’t have the melting consistency of traditional cheese, you can grate it, slice it and it certainly has a nice cheesy flavor to sprinkle on top of dishes, mix into your salad or have with some crackers!
4. Cookie Dough
Those cookie dough blondies up there? Well guess what? You can forget about turning them into bar form and eat them by the spoonful. Yes, cookie dough by the spoonful. Except for this version is completely healthy, packed with protein and will fill you up instead of sending you on a sugar crash and just wanting more. Well I can’t promise you won’t still want more, but it won’t be because of a sugar crash. To make raw cookie dough, add a can of chickpeas to the blender with a pinch of salt, some water and some coconut milk, a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup, stevia, or other sweetener of your choice, and some vanilla extract. Blend like this and then add in chocolate chips, or mix up the flavours, including anything from peanut butter to chocolate, or even date caramel! If it isn’t coming together well, add a bit more liquid, a teaspoon at a time, until it resembles a thick cookie dough consistency. Now it’s time to fill your bowl with dough and enjoy!