Feels Like Cheating: Toasted Chick Peas (Citrus-y Rice Salad with Peaches and Toasted Chickpeas Recipe)

Remember the first time you tried crispy kale, roasted with a little olive oil and sea salt? If so, then surely you remember, too, the bubbly glee that rose up through your chest and into your throat, when you found kale could indeed be a nutritional power house of a substitute for potato chips? Assuming, that is, that you've had crispy kale. If not, try it. You'll know exactly what I mean. Of course, this post isn't about kale at all, enticing and spectacular as it may be. It's about chick peas. The bulk kind, not from a can. And toasted. Two very different subjects, needless to say. But there is a connection. That innocent giddiness, a la crunchy kale--that's how I feel about toasted (non canned) chick peas. Crunching on them feels a little like harmless but worthwhile cheating... like sneaking in some utter dietary outlandishness when nobody's looking.

Only you're not (being sneaky), you know.  In fact, you could even say the opposite.  Chick peas (garbanzo beans), like most legumes, are valued for their high fiber content. But now studies  further suggest that chick peas specifically go above and beyond when it comes to epicurean enjoyment and digestive support. Research subjects consumed less overall when garbanzo beans were included in their regular diets, reporting equal or greater satisfaction. Studies also indicate that chick peas may aid in blood fat regulation, healthy cholesterol levels, and colon health.

Admittedly, all of the above is useful and pertinent info only because chick peas (non canned...and especially toasted) taste so darn good, so snack away.  I have to be honest here, I love chick peas, and make hummus on a weekly basis, but I usually get them canned. There's really no reason why, except for perceived convenience. The reasons to go bulk, however, are numerous and so worth it, at least occasionally. There's not a huge cost difference, but bulk are generally more economical, and you're in control of amount. You also get to control the sodium (this is a huge bonus), and enjoy much bolder taste and firmer, nuttier texture.

I decided to go with dried chick peas because of another inspiring Mark Bittman column in Cooking Light. One deterrent for me is simply forgetting to soak beans overnight. But Bittman asserts that this is no reason to be put off...if you forget, just cover your beans in a large pot with 2-3 inches of cold water,  some salt and pepper, and maybe a bay leaf; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, lid closed, for 30 minutes undisturbed. While soaking should be no big deal, this is really so easy, I may just go with it every time. And actually, after soaking, the chick peas tasted noticeably better...or at least desirably distinct, in comparison with those straight from the can (which I also like, gotta say).

To sum up, you don't need to toast your chick peas by any means, but they sure are a nice nibble when you do.  Bittman recommends toasting 3 cups of chick peas with 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little  ground cumin and coriander, at 450 F for 20 minutes, turning once. I used cumin and chili, and let them dry out further in the still-hot oven an extra 5-10 minutes for extra crunchiness. Since, I've have had them with everything: on their own as a plain old but fun pick-me-up, in chili, soups, stews, and so many salads, including the one below.  Tossed with peach and nectarine slices, brown rice,  greens with some citrus vinaigrette, it's based on this Toasted Chickpea and Apricot Salad.  Mark Bittman, you're far too busily important and adored to ever get wind of my humble, lowly thanks, but I have yet to come across any writing, or even single idea, of yours that I haven't loved or agreed with. So thank you, anyway. : )

Citrus-y rice salad with toasted chick peas 

Serves 4

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, cooked in low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
  • 2 peaches, pitted and sliced
  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
  1. Toast chickpeas: spread cooked, drained chickpeas (patter dry) on a roasting pan or cookie sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add cumin and chili powders, and toss to coat.  Roast at 450 F for 20 minutes, stirring once.
  2. For the dressing, combine 2 remaining tablespoons olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, oregano, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In a large bowl, combine rice, onion, and chickpeas*. Add dressing and toss to combine. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  4. When ready to serve, toss peach slices, mixed greens, and goat cheese with the rice mixture. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

*You can also hold off on adding the chickpeas until ready to serve.