Think beyond hummus: Chickpeas are one of the healthiest, most versatile items in the canned-food aisle.

What They Are

Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are mild, nutty-tasting legumes. They're the main ingredient in hummus, a staple in Mediterranean, Italian, and Indian cuisine, and no stranger to the salad bar. They're great for vegetarians -- one cup packs fiber (11 grams), protein (12 grams), and 18 percent of the iron you need in a day.

Buying and Storing

Dried and canned chickpeas are both widely available. If using dried, purchase them at a supermarket with high turnover; beans that have been on the shelf too long take more time to cook. We love the convenience of canned chickpeas. Look for a reduced-sodium option, and rinse and drain any canned chickpeas before using.

Quick Ideas

Because chickpeas hold their shape well when cooked, they make a terrific addition to stews or soups. When pureed, they turn smooth and buttery-tasting, so they're ideal in dips and sauces. For a quick hit of protein, toss some in a salad or mix with rice or couscous. Or, roast with eggplant and tomato to make a nutritious side dish.

Recipes to Try:


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