What if you had to name a food? Ancient Egyptians named a legume bean “Falcon Faces.” Today, we might describe garbanzo beans as chickpeas. The name chickpea comes from the bean’s similarity in appearance to a chick with a beak.

A garbanzo bean is rounder than most other beans and is very light tan in color. They grow in a pod on plants that can grow 1-2 feet high. Each pod usually contains two or three garbanzos inside, so it is not a common choice by home gardeners.

Garbanzos are a staple in many Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Indian cuisines. There are different kinds of chickpeas, but the most popular ones are called Kabuli chickpeas. These are the white or light beige variety, which are widely available in grocery stores.

Garbanzos are a nutrient powerhouse. They are an excellent source of potassium, iron, vitamin B-6 and magnesium. One cup contains 39 grams of protein, so they are a great replacement for meat in mixed dishes. They are low in fat and also provide dietary fiber. Studies have shown that garbanzos prevent blood sugar from rising abruptly and they help lower cholesterol. They are an excellent source of energy.

Garbanzos can also be added whole to salads, soups and stews for an extra boost of low fat protein and nutrients. They also can be roasted:  Place cooked and strained chickpeas on a tray to dry for 1-2 hours, or pat dry with paper towels. Place beans in a bowl to drizzle with oil and low-sodium seasonings like cumin. Stir until chickpeas are coated. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 400°F for 25-30 minutes or until lightly toasted. When done, the beans should sound like rocks when rolling around the pan.

Thanks to hummus, the popularity of garbanzos has been increasing. Hummus is a paste used as a spread in wraps, sandwiches and pitas. It also makes a great dip for veggies. It is made by blending or grinding cooked or canned garbanzos for the base and then adding garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and other spices.

Dessert hummus options are gaining popularity, but be aware that recipes usually include 1/2 cup butter (aka 1 stick) — don’t eat it all in one serving!

If you have specific questions about how to store or prepare a certain food, contact K-State Research and Extension Cowley County at 221-5450.

Source: Montana Harvest of the Month Program, Montana State University Extension

Becky Reid is the family and consumer sciences agent for K-State Research and Extension, Cowley County. She can be reached at 221-5450 or (620) 441-4565.

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