Option for using chickpeas

Chickpea cakes with cucumber-yogurt sauce

Chickpeas are the unsung heroines of the legume world, in my view.

Last weekend we were having a pond party and snacking on hummus, which naturally led to a discussion of chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, and their merits.

Firm and nutty-buttery, they're used extensively in cuisines of the Mediterranean, India and the Middle East. Chickpeas are low in fat, high in fiber and protein, and offer good carbohydrates for people sensitive to insulin and those who have diabetes. And they're cheap.

I mainly use them in soups, but now this will become another option, along with a salad.

Serves 6

This is from "The Best Simple Recipes" from America's Test Kitchen ($26.95), a cookbook loaded with interesting and flavorful recipes. The book notes, "A thick Greek-style yogurt creates an extra-creamy sauce that adds great tang and moisture to the dish. Shred the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater, and avoid over-mixing the bean mixture, as it will cause the cakes to become mealy in texture."

Ingredients

2 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces

1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and shredded (see cook's note)

Salt and pepper

1 1/4 cups 2 percent Greek yogurt

6 scallions, sliced thin

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 large eggs

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon garam masala (see cook's note)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 (16-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 medium shallot, minced

1 lime, cut into wedges

Directions

Cook's note: To avoid a watered-down recipe, seed the cucumbers. Use a spoon to scoop away the seeds and surrounding liquid from each half.

Garam masala is an Indian spice blend made from up to 12 spices. It should be available in most grocery stores.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Process bread in food processor to coarse crumbs. Spread crumbs on rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and dry, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, toss cucumber and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in colander and let drain for 15 minutes. Stir drained cucumbers, 3/4 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoon scallions and 1 tablespoon cilantro together in bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Whisk eggs, 2 tablespoon oil, garam masala, cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in bowl. Place beans in large bowl and mash with potato masher until mostly smooth. Stir in bread crumbs, egg mixture, shallot and remaining yogurt, scallions and cilantro. Form bean mixture into six 1-inch-thick patties.

Heat additional 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add half of patties and cook until well-browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and tent loosely with foil. Repeat with remaining oil and patties. Serve with cucumber-yogurt sauce and lime wedges.