MAYBE TEN YEARS AGO? My friend Ann asked, "Which is better for hummus? Is it okay to just open a can of chickpeas? Or is it better to cook dried chickpeas?" I was happy to have the answer, quoting not personal experience but a long-ago blogger who'd done side-by-side comparisons and decided, canned chickpeas were as good for hummus as dried and cooked.
A NEW DAY FOR HUMMUS! That was then. THIS is now. Pretty-good hummus is everywhere, even in tubs at the grocery store. But extra-good hummus? That, friends, is harder to come by. It's found at some Middle-eastern restaurants, crazy good, that stuff, and crazy smooth. When I ask the chefs, their secret is olive oil, lots of olive oil – not what I was hoping to hear!
And you know how hummus can be sort of grainy? The trouble is the skins. Some crazy people even take a can of chickpeas and torture themselves by peeling off the skins. I know. C.R.A.Z.Y. Or as one of my favorite six-year olds would say. "That's CRAY-zee." Enter a quick headnote, no shouting, no exclamation points, in Jerusalem by Israeli-born Yotam Ottolenghi and Palestinian-born Sami Tamimi. It was mentioned offhand, the way you casually mention something only to benefit people living under rocks who don't already know something so commonplace. With those few words, thus began my journey out from under that rock and toward crazy-good, crazy-smooth hummus. Three tricks:
Dried chickpeas. Yes, they're required.
Baking soda. Yes, from that orange box in the pantry with the baking supplies. Chemically, the baking soda breaks down the chickpea skins, tenderizing them. Voila! No more grainy hummus!
Gently cooking the chickpeas until very soft.
That's it! Except please know two more things.
APPEARANCE Are chickpeas cooked this way as pretty as those from the can? Sorry, no, so they won't entirely replace canned chickpeas. Pretty often, "pretty counts".
COST Cooking dried chickpeas is cheaper, 140% cheaper based on my last grocery store receipt, $1.79 for a one-pound bag of chickpeas and $3.20 ($.80) for four 16-ounce cans,
So next week I'll share that recipe for Crazy-Good, Crazy-Smooth Hummus. But patience, people, patience! Because first? I'm sharing the recipe for a chickpea-something I love even more than hummus, a happy collision between hummus and baba ganoush. I call it Roasted Eggplant “Hummus" (Eggplant & Chickpea Dip & Spread) and I use it on everything.
EXTRA CREDIT So who's seen fresh garbanzo beans, before they're dried, before they're canned? What color do you think they are?! Here's a picture and a recipe, Pasta with Fresh Garbanzo Beans, Olives & Bacon!
HOW to COOK DRIED CHICKPEAS for HUMMUS aka "JERUSALEM CHICKPEAS"
Time to table: 8 – 48 hours
Makes the equivalent of about 4 15-ounce or 16-ounce cans of chickpeas
16 ounces (454g) dried chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans
Water to cover plus four inches
2 teaspoons baking soda
Water to cover plus one inch
1 tablespoon table salt
CHECK THE EXPIRATION DATE Are the dried chickpeas still, um, I guess you'd call it, "fresh"? Here's why it's so important to know if those beans you pulled out of the pantry are fresh or old. If the beans are even a little bit "old", they won't cook. Here's more info, Why Dried Beans Won't Cook.
RINSE & SOAK At least eight hours before cooking (and up to 48 hours before cooking), rinse dried chickpeas two or three times under running water. Run your fingers through the chickpeas, seeking out any small stones, shriveled dried chickpeas or extra-brown rotten-looking chickpeas – throw these away! Transfer the chickpeas to a large bowl, cover with cool water plus about four inches. (Any less water, you risk some of the chickpeas being exposed to air/dried out as the chickpeas plump up while absorbing the water.) Let rest at room temperature for 8 - 48 hours, easy to do before work in the morning or before going to bed.
DRAIN & RINSE AGAIN Drain off the soaking water, rinse the chickpeas two or three times under running water.
BRIEFLY DRY-COOK WITH BAKING SODA Place the damp, soaked chickpeas in a large, heavy pot such as a Dutch oven. Sprinkle with baking soda and turn the heat to medium high. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the pot becomes quite dry.
BRING TO A BOIL, SCAPE OFF THE SCUM, BOIL 2 MINUTES Add water to cover plus one inch and table salt. Bring to a boil. After about 10 minutes, as the water gets close to a boil, a white starchy foamy scum will form on top of the water. Use a slotted spoon to lift off and discard the scum; it takes several rounds over about 5 minutes and the amount of scum may well shock: more than a cup. Once the water boils, let it boil for just 2 minutes.
OPTION #1: FINISH COOKING ON THE STOVE Cover the pot, adjust the heat to maintain a slow simmer, it may take a few tries to get the temperature right so stay close. You really don't want the pot to boil over, it makes a huge sticky, stinky mess. Let simmer until the chickpeas reach the desired tenderness, the timing will range from 15 to 60 minutes. (And if they're not cooked by then? Old beans. Time to start over with newer dried beans.)
OPTION #2 (MY PREFERENCE): FINISH COOKING IN THE OVEN Heat oven to 250F/120C. Cover pot and transfer to the oven. For how long? It depends, read on!
EITHER OPTION, WHEN ARE THE CHICKPEAS DONE? For softer chickpeas for smoother, silkier hummus, I cook the chickpeas until they are very soft, not quite to the point of mushiness but almost; in my oven, that's about 90 minutes, some times a little more. For slightly firmer chickpeas for salads, stews, etc., I cook the chickpeas only until they're cooked but still quite firm; in my oven, that's about 30 minutes, some times a little more. Since I like to garnish hummus with a few pretty chickpeas, I often pull out a handful after 25 or 30 minutes, then let the rest continue to cook until soft.
TIMING IS AN ESTIMATE So many things can vary, the age of the dried chickpeas, how long they soaked, how long they on the stovetop, it's really hard to give specific times. My own practice is to check the cooking chickpeas every 15 minutes or so.
DRAIN & SAVE THE COOKING LIQUID Drain the cooked chickpeas through a colander into a large bowl. Taste cooking liquid, nearly always it tastes really good. Save it for a vegan plant-based stock for soups and stews, for making bread, maybe even savory smoothies? It's a little salty but not half as salty as the gunky gooey junk that comes with canned chickpeas.
PACKAGE IN ONE-CAN EQUIVALENTS Before the cooked peas dry out and turn slightly brown and unappealing, package for the refrigerator or the freezer. For recipe convenience, I package the chickpeas in small plastic tubs or glass jars, each one holds the equivalent of a single can of rinsed and drained chickpeas, that's about 270g or about 9.5 ounces. I've kept track the last seven times I've cooked dried chickpeas for hummus, the average yield has been the equivalent of 4.25 cans but the range is quite wide, 3.7 to 4.7 but if I throw out the outliers, the average yield is 4.5 cans. Yeah, math geek, here!
BUT HEY WAIT! DOESN'T A CAN OF CHICKPEAS WEIGH 15 OUNCES? How does a 15-ounce can yield only 9.5 ounces of beans? It's all that gunk, the stuff you rinse off and pour down the drain: yeah, your hard-earned money, literally down the drain.
FOR THE FRIDGE The cooked chickpeas will only keep for two or three days. Do have a plan for using them up!
FOR THE FREEZER Cooked chickpeas freeze well, just be sure to gently pack the chickpeas into their container. Then before putting the lid on, I also press waxed paper on the top surface, this minimizes (though does not prevent) most freezer burn. Label with date and volume, freeze for two or three months. Would a FoodSaver work? I think so, unfortunately mine's conked out.
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BEYOND HUMMUS: MORE FAVORITE RECIPES for CHICKPEASChickpea Cakes with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce
~ Chickpeas with Tomatoes, Spinach & Feta ~
~ Chipotle Chickpea Salad ~
~ Chickpea Gumbo ~
~ more recipes with dried beans, lentils & other legumes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Broccoli Rigatoni with Chickpeas & Lemon ~
~ Chickpea & Chicken Salad ~
~ Simple Hummus ~
~ more recipes with dried & canned beans ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
SEASONAL EATING: THIS SAME WEEK ACROSS THE YEARSSecret-Ingredient Cookies with Pecans Green Beans with Lemon & Pine Nuts Curried Cauliflower Veggies for Kids: One Very Sneaky Mom Marinated Vegetable Salad Weight Watchers Pumpkin Smoothie & Weight Watchers Mocha Smoothie How Not to Buy Acorn Squash (Essay) Surprise Weight Watchers Truffles Green Beans with Browned Butter & Pine Nuts Celery Salad with Dates & Walnuts Quick Green Chile Stew (< make this before starting to cook Thanksgiving dinner!) Caramelized Onion Tart Simple Scalloped Potatoes
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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