Plant Science at the dinner table: chickpeas

Chickpeas have been eaten for centuries around the world and are a great source of protein.

A bowl of fresh hummus
Fresh hummus

Chickpeas go by many names - garbanzo beans, cecci bean, Egyptian pea, and many more. They are one of the world’s first cultivated legumes dating back to over 9,500 years ago. Chickpeas were first found in the Mediterranean and Middle East and are still a staple in the diets of these areas of the world. Chickpeas are the second most widely grown legume in the world, second only to soybeans.

Legumes are the fruit or seed of plants from the legume family such as peas and beans. There are 751 different genera and around 19,500 different species of legumes. The most eaten legumes around the world include beans, lentils, peanuts, and peas. Chickpeas have gained popularity around the world and are enjoyed in a variety of ways. If you enjoy eating hummus you have eaten chickpeas.

Here are a few fun facts about chickpeas:

  • Chickpeas supply 20% of the world with protein
  • India is the world leader in chickpea production
  • Chickpeas can be eaten raw
  • Chickpeas in some cultures are popped and eaten like popcorn
  • Hummus is cooked chickpeas that are ground into a paste. Hummus is the Arabic word for chickpeas
  • They are also ground into flour and used in a variety of ways
  • Chickpeas are one of the best sources of folate, also known as B9. Folate is an essential micronutrient with many vital functions for the body, the most important being the regeneration and growth of cells
  • At 23% protein, chickpeas are a rich source in all forms
  • Chickpeas are nutrient dense, these nutrients include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc
  • They are high in fiber
  • Chickpeas be used as a coffee substitute
  • Growing chickpeas can restore depleted soil, through their ability to grab nitrogen from the air and transfer it to the soil
  • Chickpeas secrete malic acid from the leaves and stems. Malic acid is an organic acid and a natural insecticide; therefore, most insects stay away from where chickpeas grow
  • Chickpeas can also be used as an animal feed

Here is a simple recipe to make hummus at home. This is a great recipe to try with kids. It is not only tasty, but also packed with protein and other nutrients for a healthy diet. Hummus is a great snack, and home-made hummus is easy to make and inexpensive.


Start to finish: 10 minutes

Servings: 8


1 (19 ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), half the liquid reserved

4 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons tahini - Tahini is a condiment made from toasted, ground sesame seeds

1 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste, fresh cracked is always best

2 tablespoons olive oil


In a blender, chop garlic. Pour garbanzo beans into the blender, reserving about 1 tablespoon for garnish. Add reserved liquid, lemon juice, tahini, and salt to the blender. Blend until creamy and well mixed.

Transfer the mixture to a medium serving bowl. Sprinkle with pepper and pour olive oil over the top. Garnish with reserved garbanzo beans.

This recipe was adapted from

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