FARGO-After overindulging in Valentine's Day chocolates, it's time for me to head back to a healthier eating regimen.

In addition to my love for chocolate, I also love a good savory snack, and finding one that is both flavorful and nutritious can be a challenge. These Moroccan Spice Roasted Chickpeas are a perfect alternative.

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Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are one of the many pulse crops produced in North Dakota thanks to our cool, dry climate. Pulse crops, which also include lentils, dry peas and other edible dry beans, are an important addition to any healthy-eating plan.

Not only are they naturally low in fat and calories, pulse crops are also an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber as well as a host of vitamins and minerals. In addition to boosting energy and digestion, the high levels of protein and fiber found in chickpeas promote a feeling of fullness, which can help stave off the temptation to consume less healthy foods.

Furthermore, chickpeas contain two kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble, that are important to maintaining a balanced diet. Soluble fiber is easily digested and absorbed into the body's system to help lower cholesterol and moderate blood glucose levels, while insoluble fiber does not break down once consumed and works to help move food through the digestive tract and out of our bodies.

Chickpeas have a wonderful, crunchy texture and roasting them further enhances this quality. They are a common ingredient in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, and for this recipe I've chosen give them a Moroccan flair by tossing them with a blend of warm spices including cinnamon, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic, paprika and ginger.

To ensure a crispy-crunchy result, it's important to let the chickpeas dry completely before roasting. This recipe calls for one 15-ounce can of chickpeas, which should be drained and rinsed well, and then laid out on paper towels to dry for at least 30 to 60 minutes. Once dry, the chickpeas are tossed in oil - olive, canola or vegetable will all do the trick - and then the spice blend until evenly coated.

I roast the chickpeas at 425 degrees for a total of 35 to 40 minutes, tossing them every 15 minutes and rotating the baking sheet as needed, until they are golden brown and crunchy. At this stage, I turn the heat off but keep the chickpeas in the warm oven for another 15 to 20 minutes. This final step will help ensure a crispy result.

These Moroccan Spice Roasted Chickpeas are an easy, affordable and flavorful savory snack that will boost your health without boosting your waistline. Enjoy.

Moroccan Spice Roasted Chickpeas

Makes: about 2 cups


1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well

1 tablespoon oil (olive, canola or vegetable)

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (regular also works)

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon salt


Drain the chickpeas into a colander and rinse well with cold water; let as much water drain from the colander as possible.

Lay the chickpeas on a layer of paper towels and pat to dry. Gently move the paper towel back and forth to release any loose hulls from the chickpeas. Transfer the chickpeas to a new layer of paper towels and let dry, uncovered, for 30 to 60 minutes. Remove any loose hulls and discard.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the spices with ¼ teaspoon of salt and whisk until combined.

Once the chickpeas are completely dry, transfer them to a medium bowl and toss with the oil until evenly coated. Add the spice mix and stir gently to combine.

Transfer the chickpeas to the parchment-lined baking sheet, keeping them in a single layer. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Toss the chickpeas after 15 minutes and rotate the baking sheet to avoid any oven hot spots. Oven temperatures vary, so if the chickpeas appear to be browning too quickly, reduce the heat to 400 degrees.

Once the chickpeas are golden brown and crispy, turn the oven off and let the chickpeas continue to crisp in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. This will further enhance their crispy texture.

Once the chickpeas are golden brown and crispy-crunchy, remove from the oven. Taste immediately and add more salt if desired, starting with ¼ teaspoon.

Serve immediately or store in an airtight container. Best enjoyed within 24 hours.

Recipe Time Capsule

This week in...

• 2018: Savory Onion and Mushroom Tart

• 2017: Biscotti Two Ways: Savory Cheddar & Classic Almond

• 2016: Leap Day Frog Legs

• 2015: Scaloppine of Pork Saltimbocca

• 2014: Revithosoupa: Greek Chickpea Soup

• 2013: Sicilian Arancini (Stuffed Rice Balls)

"Home with the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.