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All the secrets of a perfect legume

One of the most widely grown legumes worldwide is the chickpea. In Italy, they are grown mainly in Liguria, Tuscany, and Puglia. From a botanical point of view, the chickpea is the seed of the herbaceous plant Cicer Arietinum. With the exception of greenhouse cultivation, chickpeas favour semi-arid soils and mildly chilly climes. They are typically harvested in the summer. Chickpeas are valued for their robust taste and comprehensive nutritional value.

Boiled and dried chickpeas have a good amount of protein and carbs, according to analyses. Of course, they also include a lot of mineral salts, including magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. But in terms of vitamins, we have B1, B2, B3, and small amounts of vitamin A and C. Ultimately, their caloric consumption is moderate, with 120 kcal per 100 grammes.

The different types of chickpeas

Since chickpeas are among the most cultivated legumes in the world, there are numerous varieties. Some of these are specifically Italian. Below, I have listed some of the best-known ones.

  • Red: This variety is mainly grown in Liguria and is characterized by its reddish color. These chickpeas are usually used to make delicious soups.
  • Pergentino: It is a typical Tuscan variety, with a very fine grain and an extremely delicate flavour. It is mainly used for making veloutés and soups.
  • Black: It is a variety grown mainly in Puglia. It is characterised by its dark colour and very strong flavour. It is a typical chickpea soup.
  • Teano: It is characterized by its ability to absorb water, which is why it is often used as a condiment for pasta, especially when sauces are present.
  • Navelli: It is an Abruzzo variety that is characterized by a strong aroma. It is ideal for preparing soups.

What benefits do we get from eating chickpeas?

Chickpeas are healthy legumes that have a great effect on the body in a number of ways. They are “energetic” because they supply both proteins and carbs, as we have shown. Moreover, they help control blood sugar levels and regulate how carbohydrates are absorbed, which is crucial for diabetics. The same is true with fats; in fact, they either stop or limit the rise in triglycerides and cholesterol.

As we have seen, they are also rich in iron, more or less like lentils. They support blood oxygenation regulation due to this. They also contain a lot of fibre, so they are quite digestible. Furthermore, they are rich in remineralizing substances and have an antacid function, thus benefiting those suffering from reflux and gastritis.

Who shouldn’t eat chickpeas?

Do chickpeas have any contraindications?  Given that we are discussing a cuisine that is healthy, one might find the question intriguing. Of course, everything has a flip side, and chickpeas are no different. Those with meteorism should eat chickpeas in moderation because they can cause stomach bloating. The effect is minimal compared to that of beans, but it is good to be moderate.

Those on a weight-loss regimen should likewise use caution when consuming chickpeas. Of course, they can and should be included in low-calorie diets, but the amount needs to be watched. As we’ve seen, they contain a lot of calories, especially in their dry state.

Is there a form of intolerance to chickpeas rather than a real allergy? The answer is yes, although it is extremely rare and tends to mainly affect children in the weaning phase. The symptoms are mostly gastrointestinal and undergo spontaneous remission by the fifth year of life.

Here are some delicious recipes

Chickpeas are appreciated for their versatility, as demonstrated by the many recipes in which they are the protagonists. Here, I present the ones that struck me the most.

Paella with black chickpeas and vegetables. This is a vegetarian version of the classic Spanish paella. Meat and fish are replaced by chickpeas, which are packed with proteins. It is a colourful, tasty, and nutritious dish.

Chickpea and mushroom soup. It is a rich dish that can serve as both a first course and a complete meal. The full-bodied flavour of chickpeas meets the aromatic flavour of Portobello mushrooms. To garnish an already tasty recipe, we find the poached egg, which creates a nice contrast.

Chickpea and carrot cream soup. This gourmet meal is a modern take on the traditional chickpea purée. Some herbs, like oregano, and a novel topping—carrots sliced into sticks and wrapped in thin bacon slices—improve the legume. Just seven ingredients are needed to produce a dish that is astounding in its simplicity.

Chickpeas and veggies with basmati rice. It looks like the traditional risotto when you look at the ingredient list, but it’s actually a very different dish. It appears to be a vibrant stew of greens and chickpeas, serving as a bed for delicious, uniformly-grained Basmati rice.

Chickpea and spinach cream soup. It is a complete but light meal. A soft bed of blended spinach hosts a chickpea cream soup. Yoghurt is used as a garnish for everything, adding a little acidity and a pleasing contrast in colour

Chickpea omelette with quail eggs, a unique omelette

Unique characteristics of quail eggs One of the main ingredients in this chickpea omelette is the...