Let These Spicy Chickpeas Feed You Dinner for the Whole Week

March 20, 2017

A can of chickpeas in the pantry is, with just a wee bit of magic, nearly as good as dinner on the table.

But take those chickpeas and simmer them in a mixture of tomatoes, garlic, cumin, and chili powder, and you're not only making a plusher pot of beans, you're also establishing a flavor profile that will become more pronounced (and more delicious) throughout the week. That means there'll be less rifling through your pantry to see what sauces and spices you should flavor the cooked beans with for tonight's dinner. Instead, you're all set, and well on your way to inspiration.

If you're using dried beans, be sure to soak them for at least 8 hours; otherwise, use two cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or four cans, if you're doubling the recipe).

Double the amount of chickpeas you make...

...and the first night, eat them as directed in the recipe, with grated cheese, sour cream, quick-pickled onions, sliced avocados, and any other taco toppers you'd like.

Then repurpose them into a week of meals, like so:

  • Add to pasta. Since the chickpeas already have a tomato-y profile, they'll do well added to tomato-based pastas and pasta sauces. They'll be your ceci in pasta con ceci (simply add your cooked beans when you'd otherwise tip in the can), or add them to your favorite tomato sauce (like Marcella Hazan's) when it's nearly done so that the chickpeas warm through. Eat with shells, rigatoni, or orechiette—something where the chickpeas can hide away and surprise you. (...Boo!)
  • More-than-lentil lentil soup. Make a basic lentil soup (here's an extensive guide, here's a simpler one). When choosing ingredients to add, pick those that will play nicely with the chickpeas' existing flavor (fire-roasted tomatoes and red pepper flakes: yes; coconut milk, lemongrass, and curry paste: maybe not as good a fit). Add the chickpeas when the lentils are nearly cooked, so that they warm through and mix with the other flavors without turning to mush. This would work with your favorite minestrone or chili, too.
  • Bulk up frittata. Sauté an onion in olive oil, then add the chickpeas, a chopped red pepper (or roasted red pepper), and cubed chorizo. Cook, stirring, until everything is sizzling, then wilt in some greens (spinach, kale, chard). Pour beaten eggs over top, dollop with soft cheese (like ricotta or creamy goat), cook until set, then finish in a hot oven. Shower with Parmesan.
  • Top a flatbread. Warm a flatbread (homemade or store-bought) under your broiler, in some oil on the stovetop, or directly over a gas flame. Smear with yogurt thinned with lime juice, then spoon over your cooked chickpeas. (Or, blend those cooked chickpeas in a food processor—add some tahini to thin it out—and you'll have a not-quite hummus situation you can spread liberally over that same bread.)
  • Veggie burgers. Call forth your food processor and add the cooked chickpeas, a handful of breadcrumbs, an egg, and raw, bulking ingredients (shredded carrot, cabbage, sweet potato, or winter squash, for example), and flavor-adders (sun-dried tomatoes, capers, or herbs). Pulse to combine, then feel the mixture: Do you need another egg to help bind things together? Or more bread crumbs to dry it out a bit? (Our veggie burger guide can help.) To cook, either bake or pan-fry.
  • Fill a baked sweet potato. Cut a couple sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, toss with salt, pepper, and oil, and bake, cut side against a parchment-lined baking sheet, until soft (about 45 minutes at 400° F). Turn them over, use a fork to loosen up their insides, then add the cooked chickpeas and the cheese of your choice (feta, goat, tiny mozzarella hunks—all good choices) and return to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese has softened. Sprinkle with herbs and something crunchy (like toasted hazelnuts or pepitas).
  • Spinach meld. With a little help from some breadcrumbs, you can unite your cooked chickpeas with spinach (or another green of choice) without making a fancy sauce. You'll wilt the spinach, then toast cubes of bread in garlic, cumin, fresh oregano, and crumbled chile (or chile flakes) in another skillet before mashing them up with red wine vinegar. Add the chickpeas to the bread paste pan and cook until the flavors meld, then stir the wilted greens in and cook until heated through. Serve over bread or rice, with a fried egg on top.

What flavors do you think go best with chickpeas? Tell us in the comments below.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Mimiswanson
  • Ellen Daly
    Ellen Daly
  • Erin O'Brien
    Erin O'Brien
  • Nandita Iyer
    Nandita Iyer
  • Sena
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Mimiswanson March 31, 2017
i want to make this chickpea meal. however, do i heat all the ingredients up in a sauce pan first. recipe isn't clear on this. and serve room temp or heated? thanks.
Ellen D. March 31, 2017
I made this last week, served it with shredded lettuce, chunky tomato salsa and sour cream. Incredible meal!
Erin O. March 26, 2017
Thank you, Sena!
Sena March 26, 2017
You are welcome, Erin.
Nandita I. March 26, 2017
My favourite flavours with chickpeas are cumin / zataar / Indian chaat masala with its complex smoky tangy flavour profile / smoked paprika
Sena March 26, 2017
That sounds delicious!
Sena March 26, 2017
For my vegan peeps and people who want to eat plant-based, it is disheartening to see animal secretions (e.g., dairy, eggs) in recipes that could and should so easily be plant-exclusive. For those who are still learning how to adapt recipes, there are pre-made plant-based cheeses, including shredded and creamed cheeses. There are also great recipes and entire cookbooks dedicated to making plant-based cheeses. We now have the VeganEgg from Follow Your Heart and The Vegg. Here is a page dedicated to how to bind veggie burgers without using eggs. "If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn't we?" Edgar's Mission.
Elizabeth P. March 26, 2017
"Animal secretions?" Seriously? While your suggestions for alternatives to eggs and milk are welcome, your attitude is not only unjustified and not scientific but it will only drive people away from what could be a way to coax people into a more plant based diet.
Sena March 26, 2017
What about my comment is not scientific? Dairy and eggs are animal secretions. I am also unclear what you mean by my attitude. Vegans do find it disheartening to see animals used in recipes where it is not needed. I gave suggestions on how to make these recipes without using animals. How is that not justified? There are a lot of vegan and plant-based followers of Food52. If we don't speak up, then no one else will.
Bill March 26, 2017
The "animal secretions" reference is just silly (even if "scientific"), but the "without harming others" is more troubling. How does eating an unfertilized egg (or a fertilized one, for that matter) "harm" anyone or anything? And what "harm" comes from milking a cow? I have nothing against veganism and have even practiced it in the past, but only for health reasons. I agree with Elizabeth that directing some sort of vague shame at consumers of eggs and dairy is not a good strategy for encouraging a plant-based diet.
Gráinne O. March 26, 2017
A vegan diet is healthier for sure, but for me, it's all about the animals. I was vegetarian for many years thinking I was causing no harm to animals by eating dairy and eggs. I thought since I only bought organic and free range, the animals were well treated. Then Iearned that the males in both industries are killed as waste products. Newborn calves are taken from their distraught mamas. The girls are put in solitary confinement for a few months until they are move to the main herd. The boys are killed at 1-3 weeks (for bob veal), 3-5 months (as regular veal), or 18 months (for beef). The mothers are killed at about 5 years of age when their productivity drops. Cattle have a natural lifespan of 20-25 years.

Day old chicks are sexed. Females are thrown into buckets to be sent to farms, while males are thrown into macerators to be ground alive. Laying hens are killed at about 2 years of age when they are spent (i.e. their little bodies give up from being overbred and living in horrific conditions). The natural lifespan of a chicken is 8 years.
Bill March 26, 2017
I can't disagree, Grainne. We don't eat beef, and we eat pork and chicken only selectively -- usually from local farmers whom we know. Likewise with eggs. It's complicated, because meat, eggs and cheese were part of many healthy traditional diets, although they were usually used sparingly. Animals were properly cared for on traditional subsistance farms, and nothing was wasted. It was only when man became divorced from the land that the brutal and wasteful practices of factory farming became prevalent. I don't want to be a part of that, but not everyone has access to local farms or can pay the premium prices that are sometimes charged by small farmers.
[email protected] March 26, 2017
Elizabeth, it's a very difficult thing to do...looking in the mirror only to see that you're supporting an industry that is very violent and cruel. I commend commenters like Sena speaking up against animal cruelty, and helping others see what they are supporting by financing animal agriculture. I always thought of myself as an animal lover, being a vegetarian for 20-something years. But thanks to people like Sena, I realized my actions didn't quite line up with my values. I hated my mirror 5 years ago, it was an ugly truth that I didn't want to see.
Sena March 26, 2017
Hi Bill, My intention was not to shame anyone. I was just frustrated by seeing these recipes that should have been plant based. Until 5 years ago, I was a vegetarian for decades. I had heard horror stories about the dairy and egg industries, but I didn't believe it because I just couldn't fathom that humans were capable of doing what I was hearing. Then, 5 years ago, I visited a local dairy farm and spoke with Organic Valley, and both confirmed the connection between the veal and beef industries and the dairy industry. I then learned about how male baby chicks are destroyed and about how the hens are bred to lay hundreds of eggs annually, when a chicken's body in nature years ago only produced 12 eggs a year like human women. At a local sanctuary, I have seen hen after hen die after her tired and nutrient-depleted body can no longer sustain life. My heart is broken, and I have faith in humanity that if we know the truth, we will act accordingly. The dairy and egg industries are systems of exploiting the bodies of cows and eggs, and their impact is pervasive, even to small, family farms and backyard hens. When a being is commodified, harm cannot ultimately be avoided. When we take the perspective of the animal, we realize that they want to be free to live their lives with autonomy. You sound like a caring person. Perhaps you are like me and need to learn about it first hand to believe it. I recommend the site, to learn more. I also recommend the book Farm to Fable, by Robert Grillo. I come in peace, but I also come with great sadness and great hope.
Bill March 26, 2017
Thank you for your measured response, Sena. And I honor your obviously heartfelt concern for factory farm animals, almost all of whom live short and absolutely miserable lives. I could survive without meat (and have, for long periods of time), but eggs and milk are natural animal by-products -- at least in an ideal world. And from a nutritional standpoint, I'm not convinced that eggs, cheese, butter and even meat and fish in measured amounts, are detrimental to ones health. The problem is not so much nutritional (at least not to the extent of chemicals, preservatives, excess sugar and other horrible junk which goes into processed and fast foods), but rather societal, cultural and even philosophical. People want cheap food, and agribusiness is happy to accommodate them. In a healthy, traditional society, domestic animals are valued. They may be used, but they are used consciously and carefully, and not commodified. But for most "first world" people today, especially those who live in cities, there are no real connections with any food sources -- even fruits and vegetables. I don't have a solution for this, except to make a personal commitment to become more conscious of what I'm eating and how it was raised or grown. And I will check out the book -- it appears to be well worth reading. .
Sena March 26, 2017
Thank you, Bill.
David T. March 27, 2017
Thanks for pointing this out, Sena.

I ate meat, dairy and eggs for many years without even thinking about what I was doing. I was raised that way, and everyone I knew ate that way, so it seemed normal, natural and even necessary for me to do it.

It was only when I met my girlfriend, who was vegetarian at the time, that I even thought about my food choices. I gradually stopped eating meat. She then learned the truth about dairy and eggs, and so became vegan*. I then became an at-home vegan (because I was too lazy to cook or shop for myself) but it took a little longer for me to accept the truth that eating cheese was barely any different to eating beef. I finally got it, and now we run a vegan café! I love showing people that there is another way to live. And people are really receptive!

It is because of tireless people like you, Sena, that I became vegan. It is difficult and thankless, but your work is appreciated. And you are creating change. Well done!

*She already only bought cruelty-free cosmetics and household products, and never wore animal skin/fur/wool, and never payed for animals as entertainment
Gráinne O. March 27, 2017
Thanks for reading, Bill. The vast majority are not like you - they don't care that they are eating or using animals who have been horrifically treated. Some people cannot afford to pay more, but most people can but choose not to. Those who can't, could choose to skip animal products, since a vegan diet is cheaper, but they choose to support animal torture. It's sad, but until veganism is more mainstream, people will choose taste over compassion. They are the people we really want to reach. In an ideal world, everyone would be vegan, but if everyone was conscious of what they were eating, as you are, we would be a lot better off!
Sena March 27, 2017
Wow! Your story sounds so much like that of mine and my husband's. Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for your kindness.
Katherine M. March 26, 2017
Great ideas, thanks!