Lets hear it for the fantastic, amazing chickpea

The chickpea is a remarkable legume. Full of protein and fiber, it’s obviously good for you, but it is also incredibly versatile.

Also called garbanzo beans, chickpeas can be found in many Israeli dishes, perhaps most prominently in the falafel.

Falafel is a wonderful dish to make for a crowd since it’s so inexpensive and so well-received by large groups. Falafel can be served in the classic preparation — in a pita with tahini, tomato, and cucumber — but when I’m entertaining, I’ll sometimes serve them on toothpicks with a little plain yogurt mixed with lemon juice for dipping.

Another Israeli favorite is hummus. Listen carefully, dear readers: Do not buy store-bought hummus! It is far more delicious to make it yourself, and if you have a food processor or blender, requires hardly any effort.

For a quick and delicious appetizer that will impress your guests to no end, serve fresh hummus with homemade baked pita chips. They’re much healthier than fried pita chips for obvious reasons, and they make the perfect scoop for any type of dip.

I typically use canned chickpeas, but if you wish to buy dried ones, be sure to soak them overnight before cooking them. This decreases the amount of time they take to cook.

Tahini, or sesame paste, can be found near in the Middle Eastern foods section in health-food stores and well-stocked supermarkets.


Fresh Falafel

Makes about 20 balls

1 16-oz. can chickpeas

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 tsp. coriander

1 tsp. cumin

3 Tbs. fresh parsley (chopped)

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbs. regular flour or chickpea flour

vegetable oil

Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, parsley, salt and pepper in medium bowl. Add flour. Use a potato masher, or combine ingredients in a food processor, resulting in a nearly smooth paste.

Form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a ping-pong ball. Fry in 2 inches of oil until golden brown (5-7 minutes). Serve hot.


Fresh Hummus with Homemade Pita Chips

Serves 8-12

1 16-oz. can chickpeas

1 small bunch parsley

2 Tbs. tahini

juice of 1 lemon

4 cloves garlic

3 Tbs. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

6 regular round pitas

2 tsp. paprika

Combine the chickpeas, parsley, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and 2 Tbs. olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make chips, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut pitas into wedges (I like to get 8 wedges out of each pita). Spread evenly on a baking sheet and brush with 1 Tbs. olive oil. Bake for 6-7 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crisp. Sprinkle lightly with salt and paprika. Serve with hummus.

Gabi Moskowitz
is the clergy assistant at Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco, a caterer and cooking teacher. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. Follow her adventures in and out of the kitchen in her blog, www.gabimoskowitz.com.

Gabi Moskowitz
Gabi Moskowitz

Gabi Moskowitz is the co-author of “Hot Mess Kitchen” and the co-producer of “Young & Hungry,” a Freeform comedy currently in its fifth season. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Evan. She can be reached at brokeassgourmet.com.