Since we bought our property here in Umbria, I have truly learned to appreciate the versatility of dried beans as beans and grains do play an important part in Umbrian cuisine. Although I often use the wonderful lentils from Castelluccio here in Umbria, the cicerchie (a dried bean that looks like a cross between fava beans and chickpeas), or cannellini beans in my kitchen, it has taken me longer to learn to love chickpeas. I recently bought a bag of dried chickpeas that cost me less than 2 euros at the grocery store and from that one little bag of beans, once cooked, Considered one of our most ancient foods, the health benefits and versatility of chickpeas (and other dried beans) should encourage us all to incorporate more legumes into our daily diets. Read more about Dried Legumes.
- Buying Chickpeas - Look for beans that are intact and unbroken and try to buy from a source that has a good turnover. Very old beans will take longer to cook and often do not retain their shape as well as younger ones do.
- Storing Chickpeas - Do not mix your newly purchased beans with older ones and they may have different cooking times. Dried beans keep best stored in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place.
- Cooking Chickpeas - Chickpeas take longer to cook than most other dried beans and do require pre-soaking. Place in a large bowl of water in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before cooking. Once soaked, bring beans and liquid to a boil in a large saucepan, then reduce the heat and cook until tender but intact, which may take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 hours depending on the age of the bean. Once cooked, drain and use as desired. I also cook extra beans and store them in the freezer for future soups and stews.