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Originally published Tuesday, April 5, 2011 at 8:22 PM

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Recipes: Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers and Cheesy Chickpea and Sesame Crackers

Everyday Food offers these recipes that use chickpeas.

Think beyond hummus: Chickpeas are one of the healthiest, most versatile items in the canned-food aisle.

Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are mild, nutty-tasting legumes. They're the main ingredient in hummus, a staple in Mediterranean, Italian and Indian cuisine, and no stranger to the salad bar. They're great for vegetarians — one cup packs fiber (11 grams), protein (12 grams) and 18 percent of the iron you need in a day.

Dried and canned chickpeas are both widely available. If using dried, purchase them at a supermarket with high turnover; beans that have been on the shelf too long take more time to cook. We love the convenience of canned chickpeas. Look for a reduced-sodium option, and rinse and drain any canned chickpeas before using.

Because chickpeas hold their shape well when cooked, they make a terrific addition to stews or soups. When pureed, they turn smooth and buttery-tasting, so they're ideal in dips and sauces. For a quick hit of protein, toss some in a salad or mix with rice or couscous. Or, roast with eggplant and tomato to make a nutritious side dish.

Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers

Makes 4 servings

Mixing chickpeas and bulgur into ground beef adds fiber and protein and makes the meal more cost-effective. You can also use ground lamb or turkey in place of the beef.

For a meatless version, use 1/2 cup more bulgur and replace beef with 3 ounces shredded cheddar (1 cup) and 1 egg white.

2 ounces feta cheese

1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1/4 cup bulgur

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1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/2 pound ground beef chuck (95 percent lean)

1/3 cup roughly chopped mint leaves

Nonstick cooking spray

4 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted

1 small cucumber, thinly sliced

1 large tomato, sliced

1. In a small bowl, mash feta with the back of a fork until smooth. Stir in yogurt and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

2. In small heatproof bowl, combine bulgur and 1/2 cup boiling water. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse chickpeas until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and add beef and mint. Drain bulgur and add to chickpea mixture. With your hands, mix until mixture is evenly combined and holds together when pressed into a ball. Divide into four 1-inch-thick patties and season with salt and pepper.

3. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high. Add patties and cook until browned and crispy on the outside and cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees on an instant-read food thermometer. Flipping once. Serve on buns with sliced cucumber, tomato and feta-yogurt sauce.

Mixing chickpeas and bulgur into ground beef adds fiber and protein and makes the meal more cost-effective. You can also use ground lamb or turkey in place of the beef.

Nutritional information per serving: 525 calories; 13 grams fat (5 grams saturated fat); 29 grams protein; 74 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams fiber

Cheesy Chickpea and Sesame Crackers

(Makes 65)

1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

3/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for surface

5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1/2 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce)

1 large egg white

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in middle and lower third. In a food processor, pulse chickpeas until coarsely chopped. Add coriander, salt, pepper, flour and butter and pulse to combine. With machine running, gradually add 3 tablespoons cold water until dough forms a ball. Add Parmesan and pulse to combine.

2. Divide dough and form into two 1-inch-thick disks. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each disk to an 1/8-inch thickness. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. With a knife, cut into 1-by-3-inch rectangles and place, 1/2 inch apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 25 to 30 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let crackers cool on sheets, then transfer to airtight containers and store at room temperature, up to 2 weeks.

Nutritional information per serving (about 7): 196 calories; 8 grams fat (4 grams saturated fat); 6 grams protein; 25 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber

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