Garbanzo beans, also called chickpeas, can be one of the most delicious and nutritious protein substitutes for meat. Garbanzos have more protein than most other legumes, as well as providing fiber. They're a good choice if you want to eat less meat or follow a vegetarian diet.
Beans and Legumes
Many vegetarian diets emphasize beans, peas, lentils and other legumes, including garbanzos, as sources of protein. Garbanzos have an added advantage over other legumes as a meat substitute because they're good hot or cold. Garbanzos have 12 grams of protein per cup. They can be substituted for meat using a general ratio of 1/2 cup of beans for every 1 ounce of meat in a recipe.
Pureed into Hummus
Garbanzos are a large part of cuisines of the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and India. Associated with Greek and Middle Eastern cooking, hummus is one of the most familiar dishes made from garbanzos. Hummus can be eaten as a dip with crackers or vegetables, used as a condiment in place of mayonnaise or mustard, or topped with vegetables and eaten as the main ingredient in a sandwich. This spread is also simple to make: puree a can of garbanzo beans in a blender with enough olive oil for a smooth consistency and flavor with salt, garlic and sesame tahini to taste. Shepherd's pie can be made by substituting mashed garbanzos for ground meat.
Star of Soups and Stews
Garbanzos can be used in place of tuna or chicken to give a salad some body and can be added to all kinds of vegetable soups and stews. One form of main dish using garbanzos is chana masala, a vegetable stew from India's Punjabi region. The stew, also known as channay, has a tangy, spicy flavor. Spanish bean soup, potaje de garbanzos, also uses chickpeas as its main ingredient. It's a hearty soup that makes a meal when accompanied by fresh, crusty bread and a salad.
Try Them Out
One of the best ways to learn how to use garbanzos in place of meat is simply to experiment with putting them in favorite recipes. A vegetarian chili could use chickpeas instead of ground beef, or a gazpacho recipe could add garbanzos to give more bulk to the traditional combination of tomato juice, onions and cucumbers. Garbanzos also can substitute for ground beef in tacos by simply mixing the beans with taco seasonings.
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Cynthia B. Astle is a longtime journalist who has written on practically every topic of human interest for newspapers such as the "United Methodist Reporter," magazines including "Response," "Arts Ministry" and the "Progressive Christian" and websites such as Darkwood Brew and United Methodist Insight. She was also a food editor and restaurant reviewer for the "Clearwater Sun."