Most of us associate chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) with salad bars and store-bought hummus. Originally from Middle Eastern and Mediterranean soil, chickpeas are a dietary staple and feature in a variety of dishes in that region of the world. Dried beans are ground into chickpea flour, which is wheat-and-gluten-free, and makes delicious pancakes and flatbreads: papadum in India, farinata in Italy, and socca in France.
Chickpeas are a great source of protein and fiber, and a good source or iron. Occasionally, you might see fresh chickpeas at the farmers’ market, but for most of us, the easiest way to source chickpeas is at the grocery store, in canned or dried form. Nutritionally speaking, there is little difference between canned and home-cooked chickpeas, aside from the sodium content. To reduce the sodium of canned chickpeas, rinse the beans before using, even if you purchase a low-sodium variety.
It takes about two hours to cook dried chickpeas, yet devotees of this method believe the beans are tastier than canned. Cooked chickpeas freeze well for later use.
Yield: 4 servings
4 organic chicken breast halves, skinless and boneless
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups small cauliflower florets
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
3 tablespoons feta cheese
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt, pepper and paprika
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place chicken breast halves on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika.
3. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and cayenne pepper.
4. Place the chickpeas and cauliflower florets around the chicken, and pour the seasoned oil over the chicken and vegetables.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken is done.
6. Meanwhile, combine the yogurt and feta cheese, and set aside.
7. To serve, cut the chicken on the diagonal into four slices. Spoon the vegetables around the chicken, sprinkle with the cilantro and spoon some of the yogurt-feta mixture over the entire dish.
Tip: Serve leftovers in pita bread.
Variation: Cube the chicken, then follow the recipe as above, adding some chopped apple and fresh spinach at the end. Toss with the yogurt-feta sauce.