Chickpea Popcorn

If you like to munch on something savory and salty without resorting to junk food, this healthy snack is for you.

Chickpea Popcorn is a fun name for chickpeas sautéed with spices until they are golden and maybe even a little crunchy, depending on your preference. They make an awesome, wholesome snack food that you can pop into your mouth by the handful.

There are several different ways to make Chickpea Popcorn, but I like the method I describe below, because it's quick, simple, and uses no oil at all.

The trick is to sauté the chickpeas in vegetable stock. I'll explain this below, step by step.

Let's get started!

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 15-oz can of chickpeas (or 1.5 cups home-cooked chickpeas)
  • Your favorite seasoning blend (more on this below)

OK, let's talk seasoning for a sec. This can really be anything you love. Here are some suggestions:

  • I highly recommend Trader Joe's Chili Lime Seasoning. It's so delicious, and it also tastes great on roasted or grilled veggies and tempeh.
  • Trader Joe's Everything But The Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend. This mixture has a cult following, and for good reason -- it's very tasty. The granules are larger, though, so it may not adhere to the chickpeas quite as well as other, more powder-like spice blends.
  • Taco Seasoning Mix. The blend from Trader Joe's is one of the few brands I've found that do not contain yucky fillers or preservatives.
  • Curry Powder. If you love Indian spices, this one is for you! So good.
  • Garam Masala. This is another delicious Indian spice blend, and it is often used as a topping. If you've ordered Samosas at an Indian restaurant and they came out with a brown powder sprinkled on top, it was probably Garam Masala. The brand I use contains cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper and coriander. Yum!
  • Garlic Powder & Soy Sauce. For this, instead of adding a spice blend to the chickpeas at the end, sprinkle them with garlic powder and then splash them with soy sauce. Stir to coat, and you're all set.
  • Nutritional Yeast & Lemon Juice. Same method as for Garlic Powder and Soy Sauce, just a different delicious flavor combination. You can pick up some Nutritional Yeast at any health food store, or order it from Vitacost.

Some of these spice blends do contain sodium, so if you're really watching your levels, those might not be the best choice. Check the ingredients to be sure, and skip any that contain maltodextrin or MSG (monosodium glutamate).

Instructions:

1. Open a can of chickpeas.

2. Drain the liquid away and rinse them. A mesh strainer is handy for this task.

3. Heat a frying pan over high heat. Add about ¼ cup of vegetable stock to the pan -- it should be just enough to barely coat the bottom of the pan.

4. Bring the vegetable stock to a simmer, then add the rinsed, drained chickpeas.

5. Stir frequently. Let the chickpeas simmer until the veggie stock evaporates. As the liquid disappears, you'll notice that the chickpeas begin to toast in the pan. Keep them moving so they don't stick too much.

6. Eventually the chickpeas may begin to stick a little. That's the moment when you add an additional ¼ cup of vegetable stock to the pan.

7. Continue stirring. After this small quantity of vegetable stock evaporates, allow the chickpeas to toast until they begin to become more golden in color.

8. Sprinkle the chickpeas with your seasoning of choice. Stir to coat.

9. Add one more ¼ cup of vegetable stock.

10. Stir everything together and let the chickpeas simmer in the stock one more time.

11. When the pan becomes dry again, the Chickpea Popcorn is ready to eat!

12. Allow the chickpeas to cool, and then transfer them to an airtight food storage container (that is, if you don't end up eating them all at once). My favorite containers are glass Snapware containers.

Serve and enjoy!

Pro tip: Spiced Chickpea Popcorn also makes awesome croutons on a soup or salad, and an excellent addition to a Buddha Bowl (a bowl full of grains, greens, legumes and other veggies, drizzled with a sauce), veggie tacos, and other yummy plant-based dishes.

Do you have any other inspiration for spice combinations? How else would you use your Chickpea Popcorn? Please share your ideas in the comments below!

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