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SMASHED Chickpeas---YUM!
       Chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, are most notably known for being whipped into hummus and ground into falafel . Like all beans, they're high in protein, low in calories, provide tons of fiber, and antioxidants. And chickpeas, more than other beans, help to regulate your appetite-I can't say that that's necessarily the case for me though. But, I DO LOVE THEM and with my new-found "rules," they're perfect for my healthy diet. I've always eaten a lot of hummus, usually kicking it up with some smoky cumin, a pinch of cayenne, and extra lemon juice. And, when my unsuspecting, trusting and vegetable hating son, Zack, was much younger, my homemade version would even have a few SECRET ingredients, grated carrots and broccoli stems, blended into it.
       But how much hummus can one person eat?? So I'm always on the lookout for chickpea alternatives. I prefer cannellinis, black beans and lentils in soups, and kidneys in chili, so I WAS LOOKING FOR SOME SORT OF SAUTEED CONCOCTION. These Mediterranean Smashed Chickpeas fit the bill. A simple saute of onions, garlic, and a surprise addition of celery with my fave cumin makes for a warm satisfying side dish or sandwich filling.        You can follow the recipe as is, but THIS IS THE KIND OF DISH THAT JUST BEGS TO BE PLAYED WITH. You could stir in a 1/2 cup of fire roasted tomatoes with the garlic and celery. Or add half of a diced red bell pepper along with the onion. Stir in 1/4 cup of chopped, fresh Italian parsley for brightness or even add some toasted walnuts for crunch at the end. Leftovers added to soups, and patties fried in alittle olive oil work too! I've also included a simple homemade tahini sauce to use as a dip or a sandwich spread.

LESSONS Learned:
1. I can expand my chickpea horizons, you don't have to be stuck in that hummus rut!
2. Although I feel a little guilty about not cooking up the dry beans from scratch, I am happy to have found organic, no salt, non-toxically canned versions in my health food store---so much easier! Just drain and rinse them well.

by David Tanis (slightly adapted)

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, small diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon coarsely ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2/3 cup finely diced celery
4 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans)-2 15 oz. cans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
more salt and pepper to taste (optional)
Tahini sauce (optional), see below

The Prep:
       Put 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, season with the salt and pepper, and cook gently until softened, about 10 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high. Add garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes and celery. Stir to combine let cook without browning for 1 minute.
       Add chickpeas and let them heat through. With a potato masher or wooden spoon, crush about half the beans. Stir well. Add 1/2 cup water and let mixture simmer for a minute or two. Stir in the lemon juice and the olive oil. Serve warm in as a sandwich filling, as a dip or a side dish. Drizzle with tahini sauce, if desired.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups. or 4-6 servings.

To make homemade tahini sauce:
Stir until smooth: 1/4 cup tahini, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons water and a Tablespoon of honey.
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