A few years ago, I wouldn't have known what to do with a chickpea. Well, apart from make hummus with it, and that was about twenty years ago (no exaggeration).
I had some strange ideas about them. They were a bit odd, really. Weren't they a substitute for meat in a vegan meal? Or a funny type of bean?
I also decided my tummy didn't get on with them. Every time I ate them I was sure I got bloated. So I'd avoid them where possible.
But then a strange thing happened. I did a gut reset. (You may remember it: I cooed about it endlessly in Gluten-Free Heaven magazine.) And in that gut reset were a number of recipes containing chickpeas. So there was nothing for it but to embrace the chickpea. Again. And again. And again.
And you know what? I didn't get any bloating. And I've continued not to get bloating from them for the last 3 months (i.e. since I started eating them).
The result has left me feeling rather foolish. I've always told others not to become a food detective and try to diagnose what's making them feel rotten, but there I was blaming the humble chickpea for an offence it didn't commit.
But what about the recipes?
My, oh my, are they broad. Chickpeas, it turns out, can be used for so many things you'd be forgiven for not knowing they were there. There's the great egg-white substitute where the juice can be used to make amazing vegan cakes. Then the chickpeas themselves can make all manner of things, like beautiful curries with turmeric and cumin, or delicious falafel, or vegetarian "meatballs'.
And if that's not enough, they're supposed to aid digestion and are a good source of protein. What's not to love?
So if you're wondering what I'm cooking up in my kitchen on a regular basis, unfurrow your brows and take a look at these amazing recipes. Guaranteed, I'll be trying them out or tweaking them so they're gluten-free.
What's your favourite unusual ingredient? Please share below!