Chickpea is a native plant of western Asia, but in ancient times it spread to India, Africa, Europe and more recently in Central America. The Egyptians regarded it as a food for the poor, and in fact, it was only fed to slaves. The Romans, on the other hand, preferred this legume among others for their nutritious properties and most of all for their unique taste, they were both cooked down into a broth and roasted as a snack – a tradition that is still respected in some parts of southern Italy. It is currently one of the most common legumes in Italy and is mainly grown in central and southern regions.
The chickpea is a microthermal plant, that is sown in the late winter and harvested in the summer, but where the winters tend to be very mild, the sowing is done in the autumn. It is a plant that prefers a warm and dry climate, because it resists drought well and does not tolerate excessive moisture. In fact, the chickpea does not fit very well in fertile land or land that is subject to excess water. The most suitable terrains for chickpeas plants are those with medium texture and depth, where they can fully manifest their characteristic rusticity.
Chickpeas are rich in high biological value proteins, which is why they are considered good substitutes for meat. Its beneficial effects are also due to the high content of magnesium and folic acid: the first promotes blood circulation and the supply of nutrients to the body, the latter has the ability to lower levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino-acid that increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, if found in excessive amounts in the blood. Chickpeas also contain unsaturated fatty acids (omega-3) that help regulate the content of triglycerides in the blood and are beneficial to the heart. Do not under-estimate the presence of dietary fiber, as it has the ability to regulate the functions of our intestines, while at the same time, helps maintain balanced levels of glucose in the blood. However, because the cellulose contained in the skins of the chickpeas, they can be a bit difficult to digest and for those suffering from colitis, they should be consumed in moderation. This potential discomfort can be completely avoided by consuming hulled chickpeas.
MAIA offers 3 types of chick peas: in addition to the classic chickpeas, hulled chickpeas and black chickpeas are also available.
Classic chickpeas are rich in fiber and minerals, and are suitable for all dishes, especially soups and stews. The variety that we offer is called "Sultan". They are small and smooth, with a notably fine skin, which makes them particularly palatable.
Black chickpeas are produced in such small quantities that they are considered a specialty product. In addition to their distinctive black colouring, which is determined by the high concentration of iron and antioxidants, these chickpeas are characterized as being very tasty and having a very tough skin. In fact, due to the high fiber and mineral content, the skin is more consistent. This makes the cooking time much longer, and even so, they will only soften until a certain extent. Once cooked, the peas remain intact, which is precisely the reason that black chick peas are used to prepare salads rather than soups or creams. Traditionally they are used in combination with fish, crustaceans and molluscs.
When we remove the skins of the whole chickpeas, we get hulled chickpeas. They are more digestible due to the reduced presence of fibers, have a more delicate flavour and are cooked without pre-soaking. They are particularly suitable for making soups, pasta dishes or creams to top rustic toasted bread.
How to use them:
Chickpeas are used to prepare appetizers by blending them into a rich cream that will top rustic toasted breads, to accompany pasta dishes, stews or typical soups. Chickpeas can also be used to prepare casseroles, pies, or typical Arabic dishes such as hummus or falafel. Once cooked, can also be eaten alone, topped with a drizzle of olive oil, or flavoured with bay leaves, rosemary, pepper, celery, and garlic. They also accompany fish dishes very well.
Basic recipe: after you have thoroughly cleaned and washed them, whole chickpeas need at least 4 hours of soaking, followed by 60 minutes of cooking, while hulled chickpeas cook in 60 minutes without being pre-soaked. Black chickpeas need at least 12 hours of soaking, followed by 90 minutes of cooking. If the hulled peas are soaked for a couple of hours prior to cooking, they will cook even more quickly.
Mussels and chickpeas salad
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 1 kg mussels, 500 g chickpeas, 100 g black olives, 2 minced onions, 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 bunch of chopped parsley, salt and pepper
Cooking Instructions: boil the chickpeas in accordance with the basic recipe, then drain them and put them in a bowl. Wash the mussels, scraping the shells and put them in a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cover them and let them open over moderate heat, shaking the pan. Shell the mussels, removing the mussels that didn’t open, and mix them into the bowl with the chickpeas. Aside, prepare the seasoning sauce with onions, parsley, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Dress the chickpeas and mussels with the prepared sauce, garnish with the olives and serve.
Risotto with chickpeas cream
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 320 g rice, 200 g chickpeas, 1 onion, 1 clove of garlic, 1 bay leaf, 1 liter vegetable stock, olive oil, 40 g butter, 20 g grated Parmesan cheese, salt and whole black pepper.
Cooking Instructions: cook the chickpeas according to the basic recipe, adding ½ of the onion, the garlic and the bay leaves to the cooking water. Drain the chickpeas keeping the stock aside. In a large sauce pan add the butter, oil and the rest of the onion finely minced and sautee until blonded. Add half the chickpeas and let them simmer together. Add the rice, toast it and cook it by gradually adding the chickpea stock that you kept aside, a ladleful at a time. In the meantime, blend the remaining chickpeas in a blender, adding a few tablespoons of the stock and amalgamate to the rice when it is half cooked. Remove the pan from the heat, add the remaining butter and the grated parmesan cheese, and let it sit for a few minutes with the cover on. Top with a sprinkle of fresh grounded pepper and serve.
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 2 cloves of garlic, 300 g chickpeas, 1 onion, 1 teaspoon coriander powder 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tablespoon of flour, 200 ml extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
Cooking Instructions: first, soak the dried chickpeas in water for at least 6 hours until they are softened. Put the well-drained chickpeas in a blender, along with the onion, the garlic, the parsley, the cumin, the coriander, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until the mixture is smooth. Let rest for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. At this point, we can prepare our falafel: take a bit of the mixture and make a ball, then lightly flatten it with the palm of your hand. Prepare all of the mixture into falafel and let them rest in the refrigerator for about 60 minutes, so that they keep the form that you made, without breaking. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the falafel balls until golden brown, then serve while still hot accompanied with a good salad and pita bread. NOTE: If you have problems forming the falafels because the compound is too fluid and not compact, you can add a little flour to make it harder.
Spinach salad with chickpeas
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 200 g spinach, 200 g chickpeas, 200 g mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon of crushed cumin seeds, salt and pepper.
Cooking Instructions: wash the spinach leaves thoroughly. Cut the mozzarella into small cubes. Prepare a dressing with grinded cumin seeds, extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. Season the spinach and stir well. Add salt and a little grounded black pepper to taste. Let it stand for 10 minutes to flavor the vegetables well. Add the mozzarella dices and the chickpeas that have been cooked as par basic recipe, drained and cooled. Mix again. You can serve this salad as is or complete with croutons which are toasted or fried bread cubes.
Chickpea soup with beer
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 300 g chickpeas, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 leeks, 500ml lager, 1 sprig of rosemary and some basil leaves, 4 slices of toasted homemade bread, 1 clove of garlic salt and pepper
Cooking Instructions: soak the chickpeas in a bowl of water in which you add the beer. Drain the chickpeas and place them in a pot of cold water, with the rosemary and a bit of salt. Cover it and cook it. Meanwhile, in a pan, simmer the garlic in some oil, then remove the garlic and add the leeks, that have previously been washed and cut into rounds. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and cook over a low flame, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened. When the chickpeas are cooked, remove the rosemary and blend ¾ of them and then mix them together with the remaining ¼ of the chickpeas. Then heat up the pot again, adding the leeks and a few leaves of basil.
Chestnut and chickpea soup
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 200 g chickpeas, 250 g chestnuts, 100 g tomato sauce, 1 clove of garlic, 1 bunch of parsley, 4 slices of toasted bread, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Cooking Instructions: boil the chickpeas in accordance with the basic recipe, then drain. Roast the chestnuts, peel them and cut into small pieces. In a sauce pan add oil, chopped garlic and parsley and sautee them together with the chestnuts. Add tomato sauce and after a few minutes add in the chickpeas as well. Let cook for ab. 10 minutes then pour in some water and let cook for an hour. Season it with salt and pepper and serve over the slices of toasted bread.
Black chickpea and mussel soup
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 120 g annellini (short pasta), 200 g black chickpeas, 500 g mussels, 300 g spinach, 1 carrot, 1 stalk of celery, 1 bay leaf, 1 clove of garlic, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
Cooking Instructions: cook the chickpeas according to the basic recipe, also adding the chopped carrot and celery, garlic and bay leaf to the water. Meanwhile, clean the mussels and wash them thoroughly under running water. Wash and cut the spinach into strips. Put the mussels in a pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil and with the lid on, over moderate heat, let them open, shaking occasionally. Remove them from the flame, remove the mussels from their shells, and place them in a bowl. Cook the pasta “al dente” in plenty of boiling salted water, drain and add to the chickpea soup, along with the mussels and strips of spinach and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. When serving, drizzle the dishes with olive oil, and sprinkle them with a pinch of pepper. Serve piping hot.
Shrimp and Black chickpea Salad
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 300 g black chickpeas, 300 g peeled shrimp, 1 clove of garlic, olive oil, parsley, lemon juice from 1-2 lemons
Cooking Instructions: cook the chickpeas according to the basic recipe: for 90 minutes after 12 hours of soaking. In a skillet, with a little oil, gently sautee the garlic and chopped parsley. Then add the shrimps, stir to season and let cook for 5-6 minutes with the lid on. Don’t cook them too much otherwise they become too small and hard. As the shrimp are cooling, take the previously cooked chickpeas. Add the shrimp and their stock to the chickpeas, then amalgamate and dress with the lemon juice. The chickpea and shrimp salad is ready to be put in the fridge a few hours to mature its flavor.
Savoury chickpea and sausage pie
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 250 g puff pastry, 300 g hulled chickpeas, 2 eggs, 50 ml cream, 100 g grated provola cheese, 4 scallions, 1 bunch of chives, 100 g sausage, 10 g butter, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
Cooking Instructions: peel off the skin of the sausage, crumble it and brown it in a skillet with a little olive oil and chopped scallions. Season it with salt and with a generous pinch of pepper. Place it off the flame and set it aside. Cook the hulled peas in water for sixty minutes, then drain. Blend the chickpeas, eggs, cream, cheese, salt and pepper and washed chives in the mixer. Combine the chickpea mixture to the sausage and scallion and amalgamate. Roll out the puff pastry dough in a buttered baking pan, pour in the filling even it out. Put the baking pan in a preheated oven at 180 ° C and bake the cake for 40 minutes. Remove the baking pan from the oven, let the pie cool, then transfer it onto a serving platter and serve.
Cream of chickpeas
Ingredients (for 4 servings): a cup of hulled peas, 200 g sun-dried tomatoes, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, the juice from ½ a lemon, fresh oregano leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Cooking Instructions: in a pan, sautee the fennel seeds with three tablespoons of oil for a few minutes-until you can start to smell their aroma. Turn off the flame and set aside. Keeping apart a few tablespoons of chickpeas, blend the previously-boiled chick peas with the lemon juice and 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to help blend them. Add a few fresh oregano leaves, salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture into a bowl, add salt to taste, season it with oil, sprinkle it with fennel seeds and bits of sun-dried tomatoes, garnish with the remaining fresh oregano leaves. You can serve it as a cream, but also as a pasta sauce, diluting the cream with the hot water used to cook the pasta.
Ingredients (for 4 servings): 2 large cups of chickpeas, boiled meat (pork or veal), 1 onion, 1 garlic, 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 4 red tomatoes, 2 potatoes, 100 g pumpkin, cumin seeds, salt
Cooking Instructions: in a pressure cooker, cook the (well washed) chickpeas and meat for 45 minutes, in plenty of water – about ¾ of the pot. Meanwhile, fry the chopped onion, garlic, peppers and tomatoes in a pan for a few minutes, then add this mixture to the contents in the pressure cooker, seasoning with salt and cumin. Then add the potato and pumpkin cut into cubes and let it cook for another 10 minutes. Finish cooking over low heat, uncovered, until the soup reaches a very thick consistency.