Category Archives: chick peas

Popcorn Chickpeas: Random Cool and Delicious Stuff You Can Do With Pantry Staples

the blurry flying chickpeas are easy to miss, so I circled them in red they're tricky buggers to photograph.

and i wasn't using a fast enough lens to capture them in focus so i'm hoping the preponderance of visual evidence will be convincing: these are not smudges on the lens, these are chick peas in flight.

The first time I encountered “popcorn chickpeas” was on a menu. It was offered as a $5 or $6 appetizer a wine bar/restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor. When I ordered it, I wasn’t sure whether to expect the chickpeas to be mixed with popcorn or coated in popcorn or if maybe the chick peas themselves would be puffed like corn pops. And I was initially a little disappointed when I got what looked like just a bowl full of regular old chickpeas. They had clearly been cooked—they were golden brown and mixed with browned bits of garlic. And that’s all there was—no greens, no sauce, not even a garnish; it was almost audaciously simple.

But they turned out to be delicious: a little crisp on the outside, creamy in the middle, garlicky and salty. Addictive. I imagine they’re a little like the fried black eyed peas that Alton Brown chose when he was featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

I inquired about the name, and the server said it was because they “pop” when you cook them in hot oil. So the first time I made them, it was just for the novelty. I had to find out what this popping business was all about.

the size of the explosion seems to depend on how dry they are and how hot the pan is; drier & hotter = more spectacular explosions and a messier kitchenObviously, chick peas don’t have a hard shell the way dried corn does, so the explosion isn’t quite as spectacular and doesn’t produce a starchy poof, but as far as I can tell, the reason for the popping is basically the same—the outside of the chickpea is slightly drier and harder than the inside, so moisture inside the peas turns into steam and starts to build up pressure (again, way less pressure than inside a popcorn hull, but basically the same idea). When it reaches the breaking point, it ruptures, which makes a popping sound, and the release of pressure sends it flying.

Aside from being kind of fun to make, they’re such a vast improvement over plain chickpeas that this has become my favorite way to add them to salads or pasta/grain dishes. So I guess this is more of a concept than a recipe—the version below is as adaptable as chick peas themselves. The only constants are cooked chickpeas, enough oil to coat a pan, a clove or two of garlic, and plenty of salt. Serious Eats posted a version from the cookbook The Herbal Kitchen that calls for rosemary. You could dress them up even more with a blend of spices like chili powder, cumin, and ground ginger. Or you could use them to showcase a fancy or flavored salt.

 in a green salad, with roasted cauliflower and cucumbers over a brown rice pilaf with diced tomatoes, topped with grated parmeggiano cheese

Recipe: Popcorn Chickpeas

  • 15 oz can chickpeas or ~2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1-2 T. olive or peanut oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 3-4 grinds of black pepper
  • a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • other herbs and spices, like rosemary, parsley, chili powder, and/or cumin (optional)

1. Drain the chickpeas well.

2. Mince the garlic and chop/grind any herbs or spices, if using.

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet until it shimmers. Add the garlic and toss or stir to coat lightly in the oil.

4. Add the drained chickpeas and cook for 5-10 minutes, shaking the pan or stirring occasionally. They should start to pop after the first couple of minutes. Cook until they’re as browned as you want them.

they are also totally delicious just as they are

Artichoke and Roasted Garlic Chick Pea Dip

this picture gives you basically the whole recipe

Belated epilogue to last week’s posts about artichokes: a recipe you can use to test the “sweet” effect of preserved artichokes that’s not the typical, creamy spinach affair. While I was trying to figure out what to call it, I got into a little debate about what counts as “hummus,” hinging on the importance of tahini. I was initially pro-“hummus,” arguing that you can buy “hummus” labeled “tahini-free” (why on earth any sizable number of people would desire tahini-free hummus I have no idea—are there really that many people with sesame allergies? Is it a fat-phobia thing?). But I had to concede that the label implies that hummus would normally be expected to have tahini, and indeed wikipedia defines hummus as “a dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and garlic.” On the other hand, it also says the full name in Arabic is “حُمُّص بطحينة (ḥummuṣ bi tahnia) which means chickpeas with tahina,” which simultaneously implies that hummus always has tahini and that hummus qua hummus is something separate from tahini.

Ultimately, I decided that the rosemary and artichoke made it sufficiently distinct from hummus to merit a different name, but it’s definitely hummus-like. However, that’s no reason to feel wedded to the chick peas. If I’d had cannellini beans, I probably would have used those instead. Cranberry beans or black-eyed peas would probably work as well. And of course, if you have sufficient foresight, you can use dried beans instead of canned.

The “sweet” effect is definitely more pronounced before you add the acid, but like most bean-based dips/soups, you’ll probably want the acid in there to brighten the flavors. So f you really want to play with taste perversion, try it without the acid first. Let the dip really coat your tongue, give it a minute, and then drink some water. See if it doesn’t taste at least a little bit sweet.

Serve with bread, chips, crackers, cut vegetables, or as a sandwich spread. Makes a little more than 2 cups.

Recipe: Artichoke and Roasted Garlic Chick Pea Dip

  • 1 head garlic, roasted
  • 1 12-15 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 16 oz. can chickpeas, drained
  • 3-4 T. olive oil
  • 2 t. kosher salt (might want to start with 1 t. regular salt and adjust to taste)
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1/8 t. cayenne pepper
  • herbs (optional and flexible—I used about 1 t. fresh rosemary and 1 t. dried “Italian seasoning. I wish I’d had about 1 T. fresh parsley; any combination of rosemary, oregano, thyme, and/or parsley, fresh or dried would be great)
  • 1 t. white wine vinegar and/or 1 T. lemon juice 

the lazy person's roasted garlic1. Roast the garlic. Some people say you should slice the head in half and brush it with olive oil or some other kind of fanciness, but I never bother with that. I just wrap the whole head in foil and throw it in a 350-400F oven for 45-60 minutes. If I’m not using the oven for something else, I do it in the toaster oven to save energy. And basically anytime I’m going to have the oven on for 45+ minutes, I throw a head of garlic in too because why not? It’s delicious on its own, just mashed up with a little salt and spread on bread or crackers, and it’s awesome in a million other things—bean dips, composed butters, bread, mashed root vegetables, squash puree, salad dressings. You can do this up to a week in advance and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

2. Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, peel the cloves into a blender or food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for 1 T. of the olive oil and the acid.

once it's roasted the peel just falls away

3. Puree, adding more oil or water if necessary to make the mixture smooth and creamy. Adjust seasoning to taste, including adding lemon juice and/or white wine vinegar if desired.

not much to look at, but you could pretty it up with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of paprika just like hummus if you were so inclined