Crunchy, Savory Chickpea Snacks

IMG_2811This easy snack is a great replacement for chips or Doritos when you are craving something salty and savory but don’t want to reach for an unhealthy processed food. Kids at my daughter’s elementary school enjoyed these snacks and were actually the ones who came up with the suggestion that they taste like Doritos!

Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) are packed with fiber and when complemented with a grain provide a complete protein. This is why so many cultures around the world combine legumes and grains in their meals when meat is scarce (lentils and naan, beans and rice, peas and corn). It’s also why I allow my kids to snack on crunchy chickpeas and popcorn! (Chickpeas are a legume; popcorn is a grain)

Having recently hosted a Harvest of the Month demo at my daughter’s school, I happened to have several large cans of pre-cooked chickpeas on hand from Marias River Farm so I used canned chickpeas to make the crunchy bites pictured above. However, the healthiest and cheapest way to prepare these bites would be to purchase dried (uncooked) chickpeas in bulk and sprout them first. Sprouting releases more of the nutrients in the chickpeas for absorption by your digestive system. The instructions below assume you will take this approach. If you’re just using canned chickpeas, skip to Part II.

Instructions Part I – Sprouting and Cooking

To sprout your chickpeas, soak in filtered water for approximately 12 hours. Drain the water and transfer the chickpeas to a colander and cover with a cheesecloth or clean lightweight dishtowel. Rinse the chickpeas every 8-12 hours until you notice little tails beginning to emerge from the chickpeas (this will take 1-2 days). As soon as the tails begin to emerge, they are ready to cook, although if you wait a little longer and the tails begin to grow longer, that’s fine too.

Boil the chickpeas in enough water to submerge them with about an inch of water remaining above the top. After bringing to a brief boil, simmer for 20-40 minutes until the chickpeas are tender. Test the chickpeas periodically and keep an eye on the water level—you may need to add a bit more water as they simmer if they’re taking a while to soften.

Instructions Part II – Roasting or Dehydrating

Drain the excess water from your chickpeas (whether boiled or canned) and rinse with clean water. You have two options for preparing crunchy chickpeas: your oven or a dehydrator. For large quantities of chickpeas, a dehydrator works wonderfully. Simply spread the chickpeas out on the trays (make sure they aren’t completely jam packed) and set to 140 degrees for about 18 hours. Once they are crunchy, turn off the dehydrator, coat in olive oil and mix in the seasonings below.

If you are using your oven, spread the chickpeas out on trays on top of parchment paper or silicone baking sheets (I like silicone baking sheets because they are non-stick, dishwasher safe, and reusable so that I’m not constantly throwing out used parchment paper). Make sure the chickpeas aren’t too tightly packed or they will take quite a bit longer to cook. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-40 minutes, shaking the trays halfway through to facilitate even cooking. Once the chickpeas are crunchy, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool a bit before adding the olive oil and seasonings. This ensures that the heat of the chickpeas doesn’t damage the quality of your olive oil, which is best consumed unheated if you are using extra virgin like I do.

Seasonings (per 1 cup of dried chickpeas)

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

If you like some spice, feel free to throw in some chili powder or to vary the blend of seasonings to suit your taste buds. I’m thinking that a touch of fresh-squeezed lime juice would also be delicious!

How many chickpeas should you prepare? It depends on the quantity of final product you want. 1 cup of dried chickpeas will result in approximately 2 cups of cooked chickpeas—but then these will shrink back down again once they are roasted or dehydrated. In general, the quantity of dried chickpeas you sprout and cook will be the quantity of crunchy chickpeas you end up with. If you’re starting with canned chickpeas, then you will end up with approximately half of the volume of chickpeas in your final product.

As I mentioned above, I like to complement crispy chickpeas with stove-popped popcorn for a full-protein, high-fiber snack. Just as with the chickpeas, I use extra-virgin olive oil and a bit of sea salt to flavor my popcorn. Real butter also tastes wonderful, but it takes an extra minute or two to melt so I tend to go for the olive oil!