How to Use a Can of Chickpeas for Easy Lunches, Snacks, and Even Desserts

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Chickpeas get a lot of love on the nutritional front—they’re excellent sources of both fiber and protein, two famously elusive nutrients—but they’re also absolute workhorses in the kitchen. Stockpiling a can (or two, or three, or seven) is a shortcut to quick and easy meals no matter what you’re eating, whether that’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even dessert.

It’s all thanks to this bean’s subtle flavor and adaptable texture. You can highlight its natural, al dente mouthfeel by adding it to soups for a better bite, or roast it at high temps to make it even crunchier for topping salads or pastas or even just straight-up snacking. But it works just as well in a creamy, pureed state, in everything from scoopable dips to spoonable ice creams (don’t knock it till you try it!).

Basically, keep the bean on hand, and a nutritious, filling—and dare we say it, fun—meal is never far away. Read on for exactly how to turn your canned chickpeas into dishes you can eat day after day and never get bored.

1. Make a memorable breakfast hash.

Chickpeas in the morning might not seem like the most natural combo, but believe us—it’s a tasty one. Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, of Street Smart Nutrition, subs them for potatoes in classic hash recipes on the reg. Their size and texture are pretty similar to diced potatoes, she says, so they crisp up just as well when seared over high heat in a skillet. From there, toss in your favorite veggies, top your plate with a fried egg or a side of bacon, and never look back. Added bonus: They’ll provide a few more grams of protein and fiber to your morning meal than you’d get from spuds, Harbstreet says.

2. Add a chickpea scoop to your next smoothie.

Don’t be afraid of a bean-ified shake, Rhyan Geiger, RDN, a Phoenix-based registered dietitian and founder of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian, tells SELF. She loves to pour a scoop of chickpeas into her morning drink to add a few extra grams of protein and a creamy texture without the need for real-deal dairy.

In case you were worried: It’s not going to taste like drinkable hummus, either. The flavor of most fruits should completely camouflage any residual bean-y taste, Geiger says. Still hesitant? Opt for particularly potent ingredients, like passionfruit, mango, pineapple, and citrus, to ensure your drink tastes like fruit and only fruit.

3. Roast ‘em for the ultimate crispy snack or topper.

Once you start crisping up chickpeas, you’ll never be able to stop—there are just so many ways to put them to work, says Geiger. For starters, you can simply toss them with oil, roast for roughly 20 minutes at about 400 degrees F (it’s even quicker in an airfryer), and use them as fiber-dense substitutes for croutons in salad or granola in smoothie bowls, she explains.

On the flipside, adding a little bit of spice is all it takes to transform them into a snack you’ll want to keep eating right on their own, Mawa McQueen, James Beard Foundation-nominated chef and author of the cookbook Mawa’s Way, tells SELF. She likes to sprinkle on a dash of ras-el-hanout or berbere spice—two North African spice mixes that contain ingredients like paprika, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cumin, and turmeric—before roasting for something that tastes great whether eaten by the handful. But that’s not your only option: Try adding dried herbs like dill or thyme before you pop them in the oven, or sprinkle on a seasoning like furikake—a Japanese condiment with seaweed, dried fish, msg, sugar, and sesame seeds—after they’re done.

4. Build a next-level salad.

Crispy chickpeas are great on salads, but they’re also an excellent base for one, too (straight from the can to boot—no prep required). Roya Shariat, Brooklyn-based writer, home cook, and coauthor of Maman and Me: Recipes from Our Iranian American Family, tells SELF that she loves them mixed with chopped celery for an added crunch, topped with smattering of fresh, chopped herbs like dill and parsley, and doused in a creamy mayo-mustard vinaigrette.

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