Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Quitting Cans

A two pound bag of dry chickpeas costs around $2. I am guessing that's the equivalent to about 5 cans, once cooked. With savings of over 50%, a little extra effort is well worth it. Last night I soaked about half the bag in a big bowl of water, once I read these odd cooking instructions (below) and turned to friends for help instead. Today I drained and threw them in a large stock pot, covered them with plenty of water, brought this to a boil for ten minutes then reduced the heat to low and cooked for another 45. I didn't check on them while they cooked away, I folded laundry, made beds and tackled other general clean ups around the house. When the timer went, I drained the chickpeas again and allowed them to cool and dry in the colander.

Then - I tasted one. What a difference from canned chickpeas there was! Besides the far lower sodium levels, and the avoidance of BPA which is sprayed into cans before they are filled, I also noticed the flavours to be much purer. I am almost certain canned peas take on a distinct metal taste. As my 7 year old begs for 'chickie peas' whenever they are in our pantry, I figured I should quit the cans and go natural.

After setting about one cup of cooked chickpeas aside for Quinoa Falafels I plan to try later this week (chickpeas swell to almost twice their dried size), I used the rest for a Roasted Chickpea snack recipe I am eager to munch on. I am hoping to drastically improve my family's snack cravings, even though we aren't huge junkies to begin with.

I searched the Internet for recipes, discovering many similar but distinctly different techniques for roasting perfect crunchy peas. One added oil before roasting, another not until after, still another left it out all together. Here's what I came up with, and I'm quite thrilled with the results.

Crunchy Chickie Peas
Yields about 2 - 3 cups

About 2 - 3 cups cooked, cooled and fully dried chickpeas (about 1 1/2 cups dried)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/8 tsp each cayenne and white pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C.
Lay the chickpeas in an even layer on a large cookie sheet. Try not to overcrowd them.
Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, stir them around a bit and place back in an even layer.
Bake 15 more minutes, stir, even out the layer and then bake another 10 minutes, for a total of 40 minutes.
Remove from oven, pour the hot chickpeas into a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil over them, toss to coat all peas. Add seasonings and toss again.
Pour back onto the baking sheet, bake another 10 minutes, watching closely to make sure they aren't over crisping.
Take out of oven and cool directly on baking sheet.
Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
This recipe can easily be doubled, using two baking sheets for roasting, and rotating the sheets from top to bottom when you take them out to stir.
Seasonings can easily be changed up.
- homemade Taco Seasoning (here)
- dill, onion powder, salt
- dry mustard, dry honey, salt
- dry ginger, salt
- curry powder or Garam Masala

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