Today I've got two wonderful chickpea recipes to share with you, both of which are cheaper than chips. Living on a tight budget means you learn to love legumes and lentils ;) But, fed up to the back teeth with lentils of late, I've turned my attention to the humble chickpea.
Chickpeas, as you probably know, are one of my very favourite things and one of my top 5 satisfying foods. Not only do they form the foundation of my most beloved dip of all time, hummus, but they are a wonderful base for salads, soups, stews, curries and casseroles.
They are much cheaper to buy dried and then cook them yourself. More labour intensive, yes, and you do feel like a bit of a hippie breathing in the wet straw smell as they cook and then skimming the scum off (it's like something out of a horror film)...but one 500g bag for 72p makes heaps and heaps. And once they're cooked you can freeze them and just add to dishes as you want.
However, I could not resist when I saw 4 cans for £1 at my local Tesco last week and zapped them up. Canned chickpeas are a wonderful healthy standby for your pantry - you can have a meal ready in literally seconds. I like to make a salad of seasonal raw vegetables and then add some drained chickpeas and a dressing. But of course it's not salad weather any more over here, so I've used my bargain chickpeas in two comforting winter warmer meals that are delicious, frugal and filling!
Garlic chickpea spaghetti with chilli and spinach
Makes 3 satisfying servings, 4 servings for smaller appetites
Approx 500g spaghetti
1 x 420g can chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed or chopped finely
1/2 - 2 teaspoons chilli flakes, depending how hot you like it
Handful of baby spinach (or rocket or other greens)
Freshly ground black pepper and extra olive oil (if desired), to serve
Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions. When al dente, drain but reserve a little of the cooking water. Set aside but keep warm.
In the same pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic, chickpeas and chilli and cook, stirring regularly, until fragrant and the chickpeas are warmed through. Don't let the garlic or chilli burn. Add spinach and stir until wilted. Add the pasta and stir everything through until warm and thoroughly combined. Add cooking water if it looks dry.
Serve and season with pepper and a little extra olive oil, if you like.
If you eat fish you could also add a can of tuna in - the flavours go very well with the chickpeas and chilli. I think this combination is absolutely stunning though - the chickpeas are so nutty and "meaty". I love the bite from the chilli too. I would be happy to add more chilli but have to be mindful of Tom's lower chilli threshold :)
This recipe cost, by my rough calculations, including the ancillary stuff like garlic and chilli, something ridiculous like 50p a serve? Tops? It certainly doesn't taste like a frugal meal. Try it and see :)
And then there's this vegetable and chickpea stew, which is so easy to prepare. Just open up a few cans and packets, stir, cook and eat! We came in about 8pm a few weeks ago, freezing and starving, so I pulled this together and we were eating it about 20 minutes later.
You can use any frozen or pre-prepared vegetables you want - I just particularly love this mixture of chargrilled vegetables you can get in the freezer section. I think most UK supermarkets have their own version. I normally don't go in for pre-prepared things but they truly can be a lifesaver if you want to make a healthy meal quickly. And, if you've got your budget blinkers on, they can sometimes be picked up for an absolute steal.
Mediterranean vegetable and chickpea stew
Serves 4, with rice
1 clove garlic, crushed or chopped finely
1 x 420g can chickpeas, drained
Approx 1/2 x 750g bag frozen Mediterranean chargrilled vegetables (or any other pre-prepared vegetables you like)
1 x 420g can crushed tomatoes
Pinch of oregano
Fresh basil, if you have it
Salt and pepper
Steamed rice, to serve
Coat a saucepan or saute pan with cooking spray - or add a dash of olive oil - and add the garlic. Saute until soft and fragrant, then add the chickpeas and vegetables. Cook, stirring regularly, until the vegetables have softened. Add a can of tomatoes, oregano and some salt and pepper. Add a little water if you think it might need it. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
Serve with steamed rice and some fresh basil if you have it. It's a very simple but satisfying meal for a chilly night!
What are your favourite chickpea recipes?