I am a big lover of legumes and Chickpea was the first. My husband often tells me I am full of beans and most times, he means this quite literally. I suppose I first fell in love with Chickpea at Godfather’s pizza in Alaska when I was young. My brothers were there for the pizza and video games, I was in it for the salad bar where I could pile my plate high with hard boiled eggs, sunflower seeds and chickpeas. If I became the recipient of an occasional spare quarter for a game, all the better. Pizza was not my thing. Yes, I know, what kind of kid doesn’t like pizza? Well, I didn’t like breakfast either but you all know how that turned out?
This longtime love of Chickpea (AKA Garbanzo), was elevated when breaking, quite literally, out of the can. I used to be completely satisfied eating and cooking with canned beans. They are convenient, tasty and usually tender. I casually mentioned this to my former boss once (the same one who got me to eat spinach – stay tuned for that…).
In context, We had been conversing about food and making things from scratch. I, with great authority (which shows I had none) said that there was no reason to cook your own beans because they were perfectly good from the can. She had a strong opinion to the contrary. It was at this point that I embarked on the long and frustrating journey of cooking the perfect bean.
Older, wiser and armed with a pressure cooker, I am now convinced that a homemade batch of beans is both convenient and a staple to many a great meal. I have my Sister-In-Law, Irma, to thank for the epiphany regarding the cooking of dried beans. She uses a pressure cooker, which I had always been fearful of but since converting to, have never looked back. So, without further ado:
C hi c k p e a
The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it is many things in one. It is chickpea soup if you ladle it into a bowl with the liquid, it is a side dish if you scoop it out of it’s liquid with a slotted spoon and it is an ingredient if you are making one of many different things such as hummus, salads, baked goods, soups and so much more.
You will need a pressure cooker for this. If you don’t have one but are intrigued with this idea, less than $100 is worth investing, if nothing else, in cooking beans. There is no need to soak overnight and the cooking time is cut in half. There are many other uses though, so it really is money well spent.
1 cup dried chickpeas, rinsed
3 cups water
1 celery stalk, cleaned and trimmed
1 onion, cut in half, skin removed
3 cloves coarsely chopped garlic
The juice of 1 1/2 lemons
a few drizzles olive oil
1 bay leaf
1/2 bunch fresh thyme (tied together makes it easier to remove; cooked in a cheese cloth pouch makes for a more aesthetically pleasing broth, sans dark green speckles).
1 – 1 1/2 tsp sea salt (approximately)
Put all the water, celery, onion, garlic, juice of one lemon, one drizzle olive oil, bay leaf and thyme in the bowl of an electric pressure cooker. Set it to high pressure and set the cooking time to 24 minutes.
It will take 10 minutes or so to work up to the right amount of heat and steam before the timer clicks down. Once the time is up, allow the pressure to work itself down by itself (which will take another 15-20 minutes or so),
Once the lid has released, remove it and check the chickpeas for tenderness. I like mine al dente; easy to bite through but not mushy and falling apart. If they are still a little tough, set the cooker to simmer and let simmer till done.
When they are cooked to your preferred consistency, add the salt, another drizzle of olive oil and the juice of the remaining 1/2 lemon. Turn the cooker off and let cool in the liquid. Once mostly cooled, check the seasonings and adjust to your own liking.
Remove the thyme stems (leaves will have scattered about unless you cooked them in a cheese cloth pouch). Remove the bay leaf too and press on the onions and celery with the back of a spoon. They should begin to melt into the broth as you press on them. You can remove and discard any large pieces, if you wish.
You now have a wide range of options, as mentioned above. Store the unused chickpeas in their liquid.
Munch often and eat well but don’t forget that beans go bad quickly so try not to forget you made them (not likely, right?).