• Cultivated for thousands of years, chickpeas have finally taken centre stage for their health benefits and diverse uses in the kitchen. Here’s how to use – and enjoy – them


    Photographs by SHANE POWELL

    Sprouted, cooked or ground for flour, chickpeas are the perfect protein alternative for those avoiding meat. They are a great addition to curries and couscous or can simply be drizzled with olive oil and eaten as a salad. They are also the main ingredient of hummus – in fact the word for chickpea in Arabic is hummus. Also known as garbanzo beans (they are not part of the pea family as commonly believed), chickpeas contain phytochemicals called saponins, which act as antioxidants. Available tinned or dried, they’re a kitchen cupboard essential. When opting for dried chickpeas in a recipe, leave them to soak overnight. The tinned variety should be rinsed well before use and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

    Warm salad of chickpeas, fennel and crispy salami

    Serves: 4
    Total Time: 1 hour


    • 2 large fennel bulbs, cut into quarters
    • 1 garlic clove, peeled
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • good slug of olive oil
    • 60ml white wine
    • 1 x 410g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    • 12 slices spicy salami
    • 12 handfuls red-veined spinach

    • 50ml red wine vinegar
    • olive oil
    • ½ red onion, finely diced
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste



    Preheat the oven to 180°C.


    Place the fennel and garlic on a sheet of foil, and season. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and seal the foil on 3 sides. Pour in the wine and seal. Slow-roast for 30 minutes then open the bag, add the chickpeas and roast until the fennel is very tender, about another 10 – 15 minutes.


    Dry-fry the salami in a hot pan until crispy then drain on kitchen towel and crumble.


    Mix the dressing ingredients together and allow them to steep. Arrange the roasted fennel, garlic and chickpeas on a platter with the spinach leaves.


    Scatter over the salami bits and drizzle with the dressing. Serve with hot sourdough bread or a baked potato.

    Imka Webb

    Imka Webb is a freelance digital marketing expert and the digital editor of Food & Home Entertaining magazine.  www.imkawebb.com