Mountain Chef: The garbanzos of spring | SummitDaily.com

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Mountain Chef: The garbanzos of spring

Falafel balls with hummus and tzatziki sauce

Spring is finally here and it evokes thoughts of lighter fare. Some of my favorite food is vegetarian, and many vegetarian ethnic dishes are delicious and nutritious. And even though there is a multitude of options to explore, I am going to focus on one legume in particular: the garbanzo bean.

Also known as the cici bean, chana, Indian pea and chickpea, it is very high in protein. Chickpeas are one of the earliest cultivated vegetables at 7,500-year-old! There are two main types of chickpea, one called Desi – darker in color, smaller and with a harder skin. These are found in Ethiopia, Mexico, India and Iran. The other is the Kabuli – lighter, a bit larger and with smooth skin – found in southern Europe, North Africa, Pakistan and Chile. Desi chickpeas have a higher fiber content than Kabulis and a very low glycemic index, which make them very usable for people with blood sugar problems. They are high in zinc, folate, phosphorous and low in fat. Most of the fat is polyunsaturated, the good kind. They are also very high in dietary fiber. It has also been discovered that they can help in lowering of cholesterol in the bloodstream.

I have chosen some nice light recipes for use of the protein alternative legume from the Mediterranean. There is nothing like a homemade falafel with pita and hummus. Shred up some lettuce, slice some cucumbers and tomatoes and you have a go to meal that’s light delicious and healthy. I have added a homemade pita recipe for those who like to bake bread – it is easy and tasty. Eat food for your health!

Ian T Buchanan is the Chef/Owner of Open To The World Private Chef Services and Lead Instructor at CMC Breckenridge’s Center For Lifelong Learning Culinary Program. Please view his website open2theworld.com and feel free to contact him at (440) 376-0096 or swing by and sign up for a culinary class At CMC Breckenridge.

1 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon coriander

3/4 teaspoon cumin

dash of cayenne

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon flour

oil for frying

Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper (to taste) in medium bowl. Add flour and combine well. Mash chickpeas, making sure to mix ingredients together, with a fork or pulse in a food processor to a thick paste. Form the mixture into small balls and slightly flatten. Fry in oil at 350 degrees until golden brown.

1 16-ounce can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans

1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas

3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)

3 tablespoons tahini

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup olive oil

Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus. Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with parsley (optional). Serve immediately with fresh, warm or toasted pita bread, or cover and refrigerate.

1/3 cups cucumber, finely diced (this measurement doesn’t need to be exact)

1/2 teaspoons crushed garlic

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon mint, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoons ground cumin

1 pinch salt

1 teaspoon or so lemon juice

Mix well

1/2 ounce active dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2 1/2 cups warm water

8 cups plain flour

2-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons oil

Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of the lukewarm water. Stir in the sugar. Set aside in a warm place. Leave it until it begins to rise up and foam. This will take about 10 minutes. Sift the salt and flour together into a large, mixing bowl. Form a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the yeast into the center. Gently mix the yeast into the flour, adding small amounts of warm water if necessary. Knead until this becomes a soft dough. Transfer the dough from the bowl to a floured board and continue to knead until it is smooth and shiny. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Knead 2 tablespoons of oil into the dough. Roll into a large ball. Rub the remaining one tablespoon of oil over the surface of the ball. Return to the bowl. Cover with a moist cloth. Set in a warm place to rise. Leave it until it doubles in size. Pre heat the oven to 500F a minimum of 30 minutes before baking. Punch down the dough. Pull the edges up to form another ball. Transfer to a lightly floured board and knead 2 minutes. Divide into 8 equal portions and roll each portion into a ball. On the floured board flatten each ball and roll with a heavy rolling pin into flat round shapes approximately 1/4 inch thick. They should be about 12 inches in diameter. Place the flattened bread rounds on a lightly floured cloth. Cover this with another floured cloth set in a warm spot to rise again to double their size. This should take about 30 minutes. Pre-heat the baking tray in the oven for 5 minutes. Carefully rub the tray with oil. Place one round at a time on the baking tray. Cook 5-9 minutes. The bread should swell in the middle and become a light brown in color. Remove from the oven and wrap in a clean cloth to keep moist. The swelling will disappear when the bread is removed from the oven. Continue this procedure with the remaining rounds.