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Chickpea Puree

January 9th, 2017
vegan, food  [html]

Living with several vegans I've been trying to figure out more vegan recipies I'm happy with. One thing I've recently gotten pretty excited about as an ingredient in sauces is chickpea puree. It's pretty great:

  • Minimal flavor, so you can use quite a lot without having a large effect on the overall dish flavor.
  • Good source of protein, especially lysine.
  • Good thickener, nice texture when blended.
  • Very cheap, especially when compared to other things I might use instead (soy milk, ground cashews, tofu). [1]

I usually use canned chickpeas, and blend the whole can contents including the water. Things I've made recently with it:

  • Garlic cream sauce: chickpea puree, onions, oil, garlic, salt

  • Tomato sauce: chickpea puree, diced tomatoes, onions, oil, garlic, salt, other vegetables (peppers, cabbage, carrots, whatever)

  • Coconut curry: chickpea puree, coconut milk, onions, garlic, oil, salt, sesame oil

The main thing in each case is to include the right amount of oil and salt. A lot of people cook vegan dishes without enough fat, and then it's hard to get something with a warm rich flavor. But you don't want to much that it tastes oily. Same for salt: with any dish with a lot of beans there's a narrow range with enough salt to taste good but not too much that it tastes salty.

(You might have noticed that all three of those have chickpea puree, onions, oil, garlic, and salt. Since I've gotten excited about with chickpeas this has become pretty much the basis of my cooking.)


[1] Cost per gram of protein:

$/lb grams protein/lb $/gram protein
Chickpeas (dry) [2] $1.00 87g $0.011
Peanut butter $1.84 113 $0.016
Chickpeas (canned) $0.81 41.5g $0.020
Milk $0.40 15g $0.027
Eggs $1.59 58g 0.027
Cheddar cheese $3.33 115g $0.029
Ground pork $3.00 73g $0.041
Ground beef (80%) $3.60 80g $0.045
Tofurky sausage $6.93 136g $0.051
Tofu $2.00 37g 0.054
Nutritional yeast $15.00 205g $0.073
Soy milk [3] $1.00 12g $0.083
Cashews $7.47 80g $0.093
Hummus $6.00 36g $0.167

One thing this table shows pretty clearly is that there are a few kinds of plant-based protein options that are cheaper than the common animal-based options, and then most other options are more expensive. Sometimes vegan-diet-promoting people conflate those two groups in a way that really annoys me.

[2] Other kinds of beans cost pretty much the same as chickpeas.

[3] I haven't included other kinds of plant-based milks, like almond and flax, because they have negligible protein.

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