These legumes can add texture to a sandwich, work well in soups, and can even be used to whip up healthy desserts.

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By now we're all familiar with standard pantry staples, such as rice, pasta, and olive oil, and we're here to tell you that chickpeas deserve a coveted spot in your pantry as well. Though they're often overlooked in favor of similar items like lentils and black beans, chickpeas are just as versatile as their counterparts, if not more so. This is largely thanks to the fact that chickpeas can be served in many different forms with a variety of textures.

Yes, chickpeas are a standard hummus base (and a darn good one at that!) but these bite-sized legumes also make a great addition to most rice dishes, soups, and can even be used to make a vegan version of tuna salad. Like many other pantry staples, they're also easy to find, typically come in a can, and don't mind being neglected for a few months until you remember you purchased them.

From a health perspective, these tiny morsels are packed with vitamins and minerals, including manganese, copper, iron, and zinc. Chickpeas are also an excellent source of fiber and protein—making them a healthy addition to any snack or meal.

And if you buy canned chickpeas, don't forget to save the liquid that comes in the can. Also known as aquafaba, this substance is often used as an egg substitute for vegan cooking and baking. It can also be whipped and used as a base for mousse, meringues, and more.

Keep reading to find out how you can take your meals to the next level, all courtesy of canned chickpeas.

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Chickpea and Raisin Salad
Credit: Charles Masters

Toss them in a salad

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Chickpeas are the undisputed star of this salad, which also includes raisins, cilantro, and scallions. If you prefer your chickpeas to take more of a backseat, you can also add a handful to a standard Caesar or Cobb salad for a nutritious and filling boost.

Chickpea Salad Sandwich
Credit: Alison Miksch

Include them in a sandwich or wrap

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Looking for ways to cut back on your meat consumption? This sandwich is basically a vegetarian version of a classic chicken salad sandwich. Here, the chickpeas are seasoned and mashed, which gives them a coarse, satisfying texture that's very similar to chicken salad.

Chickpea-Tuna Salad
Credit: Photo by: Victor Protasio

Make tuna salad

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Chickpeas can also come in handy if you're looking to revamp your standard tuna salad. This mayo-free recipe calls for chickpeas (which have been marinated in oil and vinegar) along with canned tuna, radicchio, red onion, kalamata olives, and capers. The result is a refreshing take on tuna salad that you definitely won't find at your local deli.

If you want to take things a step further, you could omit the tuna entirely and use mashed chickpeas (along with lemon zest, capers, and whatever else you typically like in your tuna salad) to create a completely plant-based version of the lunchtime staple.

Herby Rice Salad Recipe
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Sprinkle them in a grain bowl or a rice dish

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In Middle Eastern cooking, chickpeas are a common addition to many rice dishes. This recipe pairs the nutty legumes with pistachios and arugula for a light yet protein-packed lunch or side dish. If hearty grain bowls are more your speed, consider cooking some chickpeas on the stove until they're brown and crispy and tossing them together with some leftover rice and vegetables for a DIY meal that won't disappoint.

Chickpea and Mint Crostini
Credit: Mikkel Vang

Smash 'em on toast

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Sure, you could make an argument that just about anything tastes great atop a piece of toasted baguette, but this crostini recipe that pairs chickpeas with pomegranate seeds and fresh mint really lets their earthy flavor shine.

Pasta, Chickpea, and Chicken Soup With Pesto
Credit: Greg DuPree

Add them to your soup or stew

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Got a can of chickpeas you're eager to use before it's too late? Toss them in a soup or stew to make the comforting meal even heartier. This elevated chicken soup uses Parmesan rind and homemade pesto to flavor the broth, while the chickpeas add some texture and a hefty helping of protein.

Healthy Superbowl Recipes: Crispy Chickpeas
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Try chickpea granola

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If you're still doubting chickpeas' versatility, look no further than this crispy chickpea recipe, which calls for oven roasting the legumes with any spices of your choice. If you're open to tossing some chickpeas in your granola, try roasting them with some cinnamon and honey before adding them to your standard granola mix. If spice is more your speed, roast 'em with smoked paprika, salt, and pepper for a bold snack or salad topper.

Chickpea Veggie Burger
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Go for a veggie burger

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Thanks to their hearty nature, chickpeas make a great veggie burger base. This recipe combines them with harissa and panko breadcrumbs for a spicy, meat-free dish that won't have you heading back to the kitchen an hour after you've finished your meal.

Chickpea "Cookie Dough" Bites
Credit: Victor Protasio

Let them shine in desserts

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Avocados aren't the only unlikely dessert stars! While the popular green fruits can be transformed into a rich chocolate mousse, chickpeas actually work very well in no-bake cookies. Here, the beans join forces with oats, pecans, raisins, molasses, and cinnamon to form a healthy take on oatmeal raisin cookies.