Chickpeas or garbanzo beans but commonly known as Ceci in Italian, were originally cultivated in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. They are featured prominently in Italian, Greek, Indian, Middle Eastern and Iberian cuisine. Though the most common type of chickpea is round and beige, there are other varieties available which include different colours such as black, green, and red. Here in Italy you predominately find the beige ones. You particularly find chickpeas (ceci) in soups and pasta but more interestingly in breads as you often find chickpea flour ‘farine di ceci’ which is a great gluten free option for many people.
Health Benefits of Chickpeas (Ceci)
The rich fibre content in chickpeas can help lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels, which in turn can help reduce the risk of heart disease and can help to manage conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
Chickpeas are high in protein and iron so they are a great substitute to meat.
As chickpeas are so high in fibre they can keep you full for longer which as we all know is great if you are watching the pounds!!
I use chickpeas a lot in dips, soups, Indian curry or in salads
Steps for cooking Chickpeas (Ceci)
- Soak the beans in cold water overnight. This is not a must be it does bring down the cooking time.
- Rinse beans thoroughly the next morning and cover with fresh water in a pot. Fill the water to the top of the pot, as the beans will absorb a lot of the water.
- Bring to the boil.
- Once the beans have come to the boil skim off any foam that appears on top of the water with a wooden spoon.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook for between two to three hours. You will know the beans are cooked when they are soft.
- Salt the beans when they are cooked.