How to Cook a Pot of Chickpeas

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Red beans seem like a more likely candidate, since I grew up on gallopinto, but garbanzos are my favorite bean. I mean, chickpeas. I go back and forth on what to call them since the cans I bought always said garbanzos. I love the bean’s nutty flavor and its versatility.

And I love that I finally learned how to cook a pot of them. No more canned chickpeas. We’ll have homemade hummus, crispy fried chickpeas, summer grain-bean salads, and more. This will be chickpea week on the blog! More recipes to come. But for now, let’s start with a pot of beans.

The thing to remember about chickpeas is they have a longer cooking time than other beans. A couple hours will do it. Two cups of dried chickpeas will yield more than enough this week’s recipes. I soak them in the morning before I head out the door for work. By the time I get home, they’re ready to be drained and cooked.

As the chickpeas simmer, celery, onion, garlic, and bay leaves warm up and create an aroma that will remind you of mom’s kitchen. And my mom doesn’t even cook garbanzos. But the aroma of simmering chickpeas has that alluring and savory quality that permeates the house, letting everyone know something really good is happening in the kitchen. 

The olive oil adds an irresistible silkiness to the broth. Use the broth to add flavor when cooking grains or stir it into soup. The beans soak up the goodness of your herbs and vegetables, but definitely keep all your flavorings wrapped in a cheesecloth. Everything softens considerably, and you don’t want slimy bits of onion clinging to the beans. Trust me. Nearly impossible to clean up.

The chickpeas will taste as good as their scent leads you to believe. They are so creamy and luxurious when cooked this way. Before the pot of beans has a chance to cool down, I serve myself a small bowl of the chickpeas in a little pool of golden broth.

Now, if you find yourself without a Dutch oven, it’s time to get one. It doesn’t need to be a Le Creuset (I’m still dreaming, too). We picked one up at Target for $60, and it is absolutely one of my favorite tools in the kitchen because it is so useful. It’s essential for simmering a big pot of beans and it’s my secret for frying without fear. You’ll need it this week.

how to cook dried chickpeas

This recipe is easily halved, but if you’re going to bother soaking and simmering a pot of beans then make it a big one. This makes enough for a batch of hummus, fried chickpeas, and a summer chickpea salad for lunch. Seal any leftovers in plastic bags and freeze them. Make sure to get a cheesecloth to easily pluck your vegetables out of the pot when the beans are done. Otherwise the onion falls apart in the pot and gets slimy and impossible to fetch out completely. Olive oil makes a silky broth for the beans, and after a couple hours they will taste as good as the aroma in your home would lead you to believe. They’re good enough to serve straight from the pot.

2 cups dried chickpeas
4 tablespoons kosher salt
2 celery stalks, halved
1 medium onion, halved
up to 16 garlic cloves, peeled
a few bay leaves
¼ cup olive oil

Soak chickpeas overnight or 12 hours in a Dutch oven or large skillet with enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches.

Drain and rinse the beans. Place them back in the Dutch oven with enough fresh water to cover the beans by about 2 inches. Stir in the salt. Arrange the celery, onion, garlic, and bay leaves in the center of a square of cheesecloth. Tie the ends tightly and drop it into the pot of beans. Add the olive oil.

Bring the pot to a boil. Cover with the lid but tilt it so air can escape. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until beans are cooked and tender, about 2 hours.

Beans can be kept in the fridge with their liquid for a few days. Extra beans can also be stored in the freezer and later gently reheated.

Makes about 6 cups. Inspired by Amelia Morris via Bon Appetempt.

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