Chickpeas have to be the world’s most adorably named legume. As a kid, I remember preferring them based on their name alone! Of course, they are also known as garbanzo beans (also a pretty fun name), which is the Spanish and Latin American name for them. In Northern India they are called kabuli chana.

Why so many names? Probably because people have been eating them for at least 8,000 years. Chickpeas are one of the earliest cultivated legumes in the world, so as their use spread outwards from the Middle East, where they originated, they took on new names.

A variation on chickpea first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1538 as "chiche pease." It came originally from the Latin name for the plant, cicer — and was from which Cicero was derived. So the name has nothing to do with baby birds, in case you were wondering.

Chickpeas are notoriously inexpensive and packed with nutrition. They are high in protein, fiber, iron and folate. They are abundant in a variety of amino acids and are easier to digest than many fruits and veggies.

So yes, this humble, richly textured, almost buttery legume has quite the storied history and is generally considered to be a very healthy choice for any meal. Chickpeas pair beautifully with a variety of savory flavors. They are also flexible, and can be toasted into a crunchy snack, boiled, pureed and prepared many other ways.

Check out the videos below for just a few of the many options and enjoy many of our own favorite takes on chickpea recipes here at MNN.

Toasted Chickpea Snack

This is an easy way to prepare chickpeas so that you have them on hand and can take them to work, workout or on a hike!

Traditional Lebanese-Style Hummus

Hummus is just a magical food. It can be spread on toast or pita, layered into a sandwich to add protein, or used as a dip for veggies, but most often I eat it off my dipped-in-hummus finger.

Some of our favorite hummus recipes:


Chickpeas make a great base for a salad, and are a wonderful way to make a more filling warm-weather meal than just veggies alone.

Some other creative chickpea salad ideas include:

Chickpea Entrees

Chickpeas make a filling main course and play wonderfully with spices, veggies and whole grains. Here are some other ideas:


You read that right! Chickpeas can do savory — and sweet. If you don't believe me, try this recipe:

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Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.