The chick pea was so valued in ancient Rome that Cicero
proudly claimed his family name came from the Latin plant name: Cicer
Also known as garbanzos or ceci, chick peas are
round, tan-colored legumes with a firm texture and mild, nut-like
flavor. As a member of the pea
family, they are cultivated from short
pods that grow on the Cicer Arietinum
Chick peas probably originated in southeast Turkey, but today they are a
prized ingredient throughout the world. They can be found in Indian
curries, Italian minestrone, Moroccan couscous and traditional Middle Eastern recipes like hummus
Like most beans
, chick peas are available dried or canned. In some areas, they can also be purchased fresh.
When buying dried chick peas (in bags or bulk), look for beans that are
uniformly sized and evenly colored. Also check for cracks or
pinhole-sized marks which signal insect damage.
Dried chick peas should be stored in an airtight container at a cool
room temperature. Plan to use them within six months. Canned chick peas
should be used by the date stamped on the can.
Cooked leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for three to four days. Cooked chick peas may also be frozen.
Dried chick peas have tough skins and should be soaked in water before
cooking. Follow recipe instructions carefully, or place the chick peas
in a large pot (they will expand) with enough water to cover by two
inches. Let stand six hours at room temperature or overnight in the
refrigerator. Discard any peas that float to the top and pour off the
soaking liquid before cooking as desired.
Though canned chick peas are ready to use, rinse and drain them to
eliminate some of the sodium
found in the canning liquid. When using
canned chick peas in cooked recipes, cook for a short time, until just
If they're going into a cold dish, no heating is necessary. Go right
ahead and mash them into dips or toss them into fresh greens, couscous
or pasta salads.
In addition to being delicious, chick peas are rich in
When chick peas are not available, substitute great northern or lima beans.
carrots, chicken, corn, couscous, cumin, garlic, lamb, lemon, olive oil,
onions, paprika, parsley, pasta, pita, rice, spinach, tahini, tomatoes,