Lemony Chickpea Stir-fry Recipe

A tasty, quick, and easy stir-fry recipe featuring golden crusted, pan-fried chickpeas, chopped kale, summer squash, tofu, and a bit of lemon zest.

Lemony Chickpea Stir-fry

A quick single-skillet stir-fry thrown together with ingredients picked up at the Slow Food Nation Marketplace. There are few things tastier than golden, crusty, pan-fried chickpeas - and this is where we start. It also features chopped kale, summer squash, and a bit of tofu. I should note that I used a great locally produced ghee as the cooking medium. It has a subtle, sweet nuttiness that pairs beautifully with chickpeas and withstands high cooking temperatures nicely. A kiss of lemon juice (and a bit of zest in the pan) at the end of the cooking process sets off a fragrant finale signaling to anyone in the vicinity that it is time to eat.

I also can't resist throwing in a quick update about our new Kiva / 101 Cookbooks lending team. As of this moment we have more members than any other lending team(!). So exciting. Upload your pictures, fill out your profiles, and let's keep this ball rolling the right direction - since my last post we've sponsored nearly $5000 in loans. For those of you who missed the original Kiva post, you can read more here.

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Lemony Chickpea Stir-fry Recipe

I used Soy Deli Savory Organic Tofu here, but plain is fine too.

2 tablespoon ghee or extra-virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt
1 small onion or a couple shallots, sliced
1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned is fine, if you don't want to cook up a pot of dried chickpeas)
8 ounces extra-firm tofu
1 cup of chopped kale
2 small zucchini, chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon

Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee/olive oil In a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in a big pinch of salt, the onion, and chickpeas. Saute until the chickpeas are deeply golden and crusty. Stir in the tofu and cook just until the tofu is heated through, just a minute or so. Stir in the kale and cook for one minute more. Remove everything from the skillet onto a large plate and set aside. In the same skillet heat the remaining tablespoon of ghee/olive oil, add the zucchini and saute until it starts to take on a bit of color, two or three minutes. Add the chickpea mixture back to the skillet, and remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice and zest, taste, and season with a bit more salt if needed. Turn out onto a platter and serve family style.

Serves 2 - 4.

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have you tried verdana beans? also known as pepyoke in burmese cuisine? local burmese restaurant near me serves them up. they’re slightly more like a yellow split pea than a chick pea is, smaller, and slightly less tough, and has a more savory flavor than the chick pea.
thanks for all the great ideas, and kiva.

b i ng chen zo


This recipe just seemed fascinating to me, since I had no idea you could pan fry chickpeas. I didn’t have your ingredients on hand, but I used your recipe as a starting point and created my own combination using pinto beans and capsicum. Thanks for all your wonderful ideas and thanks for being such an inspiration to aspiring veggie cooks like me!


Heidi, I have made this four times last week and gave the recipe to all my friends… this is a fantastic way to use chiick peas Thanks, Rosie


We just had this for dinner, and it was so wholesome and delicious! I used ghee, canned chickpeas, omitted the tofu (I could have sworn I had some!), and served it over brown rice. This will go into regular rotation in my quick-fix meals and will be fun to play with as the seasons change.


please send me recepe book


your receips are wonderful


Made this last night and it turned out awesome! Instead of canned chickpeas, I soaked some dried black chickpeas (from an indian grocery store) for about 15 hours, then cooked them up the night before I made the dish (by boiling in a large pot of water for 1+ hour. After cooking, I stored them in the fridge overnight, so they’d be somewhat dry and ready for sauteing the next night.
For the final recipe, I omitted the zucchini, upped the kale to 2 cups, and ended up using 1 whole lemon for the zest and juice.
Had it for lunch today with Trader Joe’s brown rice-barley/radish seed mix and it was out of this world. thanks so much for the recipe!


Interesting combination of ingredients. Definately involves further investigation.

Sonny @ Fabulous Finger Food

I made this tonight, with dried, then soaked, then cooked chickpeas and it was wonderful. I’ll never go back to canned chickpeas! The dried ones are so mellow and creamy. The nutty taste of the browned chickpeas combined with the caramelized shallots was vey tasty and very hearty. Great dish!


Heidi, your meals have made my life easier and healthier! The Curried Bean Salad is one of my boyfriend’s favorites. One question: how do you cook dried chickpeas? I soaked mine overnight, then cooked them in the slow cooker for 8 hours, and they seemed kind of mushy. Did I cook them too long?


Louise-it took quite a while for my chickpeas to brown… at least 10 minutes, maybe longer. I put them in a large skilled (probably 14 inches) on fairly high heat and let them sit while I prepped the other ingredients, just stirring them occasionally. Be patient, they will brown eventually… just watch out in case they start exploding and flying up into the air like mine did.


The flavors of this are great. However, my chickpeas never browned. How long should it take for them to brown (just so I know to give up if it isn’t going to happen!), and what size skillet should I be using? I assume a 12-inch would give them enough room to brown?


This was very good. I used chard since the kale at the grocery store didn’t look very good. I didn’t have any problem with the canned chickpeas being hard. In fact as they started to brown they became softer and a few even exploded out of the pan. I ate it by itself as a main course on Monday night. Then last night I had it with some macaroni and cheese from the Moosewood Low Fat cookbook and a salad of romaine, oranges and avocado dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.


This was delicious, even though I had to use cannellini for the beans and homemade panir instead of tofu. Top-notch.


Divine! I made this recipe tonight. I substituted roka (rocket) for kale due to availability issues in Turkey. It tasted wonderful, especially with the medium smokey tofu I used (also a matter of availability.)
Heidi, your recipes are wonderful. Thank you!


Eating this as I type. I used canned chickpeas, and olive oil. I had actually never cooked with kale. Since I am kind of going back to my vegetarian ways, this was just what I was looking for. the flavor is wonderful, and very filling.
I am off to make your Anzac cookies, which are also a favorite.


Love this. I used canned chickpeas and frozen spinach as a couple of shortcuts, it was excellent. I also used olive oil for frying. I put some crumbled goat cheese on top and served it with baked potato. A very filling and nutritious meal, not to mention inexpensive.


Ghee made from Strauss butter?! Thanks for the tip, Heidi!


RE: hard canned chickpeas, I’ve had luck with Hannaford Organic (in the Northeast), not so much luck tonight with Price Chopper Organic


Oh, this is so good. I’m eating it right now. I omitted the salt and added feta at the end, and stirred it with some leftover short grain brown rice… amazing.


What a beautiful dish!! Looks awesome! Nothing better than simple flavors. YUM!!!


I made this over the weekend with slight substitutions and my husband went for seconds and then thirds. So easy to make but yet soooo good.


This was so easy to make and tasted great!


Heidi, do you live in my cupboard? I just bought three pounds of chickpeas last week. So I made this today with some preserved lemon and cilantro and oh man, that was some excellent eating.
HS: ooh. sounds tasty!


Oh, snap, I think I might make this! I’ve got most of the ingredients and a big ol’ bag of bulk dry chickpeas that seems to be neverending. Now, I’m not sure what this ‘kale’ you speak of is, but I tend to avoid anything green and leafy except raw spinach and romaine. I’m kind of a chicken like that. But I know green things are super good for you, so I think I’ll take the plunge…


This is to Sophie with rank ghee. Ghee is just clarified butter. Melt butter, scrape off the foam
gently pour off the clear golden liquid, careful not to disturb the solids on the the bottom. TaDa!! you have ghee. Fresh ghee. make as much or as little as you want. It never goes rancid. Heidi, lovely dish. I love chickpeas andI love lemon zest. Thank you for both of your gorgeous talents.


I echo Terry’s question. I’m using dried chickpeas. When you say “cooked chickpeas” do you mean soaked, and then cooked? Or is the ghee/olive oil soak doing the cooking? Thanks!
HS: No, cooked – ready to eat. You could use canned chickpeas if you like – they have been cooked. Sorry for any confusion. -h


Great recipe! I added eggplant courtesy of the weekly CSA basket. Excellent for leftovers, I’ll be the envy of the lunchroom tomorrow!


Yet another fabulous quick and easy recipe!
I didn’t have kale, but substituted fresh spinach with great success.
I added a splash of sesame oil and a little garlic for fun.
It was such a hit with boyfriend that it has been requested again for dinner later this week!

Bayou Sally

Thank you, Heidi, and your readers for providing me with my own from-the-cupboard meal tonight! I used several variations on the original recipe, but it ended up filling, delicious, and innovative.
I used sesame and olive oil in the pan, and added thinly sliced red onion to the browned chickpeas. Tossed in frozen spinach left over from an old roommate and topped the dish off with toasted sesame seeds, soy sauce, cracked black pepper and — surprisingly delicious — a big pinch of nutmeg! Served it over couscous that had been cooked in generously salted water.
Thanks for all the suggestions everyone and a great inspirational recipe, Heidi!


I made this without the tofu and using olive oil instead of ghee- so tasty! My chickpeas were blackened a bit which scared me but ended up being delicious. And to those who are nervous about kale: I actually find it very sweet (like spinach) when cooked with other sweet vegetables (like zucchini, sweet potatoes). And it goes really well in this recipe.


Just wondering … how can this be called a one pan meal if the recipe calls for cooked chickpeas?
Doesn’t the pot the chicpeas are cooked in count? Or do you cook the chickpeas in the pot then add everything else later?
As a 63 year old bachelor I really like one pan meals and have invented a couple myself. In the winter I like to make a crockpot chicken with veggies – truly a one pot meal. Thanks. Terry Thomas
Architectural Photographer
Atlanta, Georgia USA
HS: Hi Terry, I had chickpeas already cooked in my refrigerator, alternately you could certainly use canned.

Terry Thomas

Just wanted to say, what a brilliant site this is for recipes and id like to say thankyou for making it, its making my life a lot easier. thanks again.


This is just my kind of recipe. Easy enough to make without consulting a recipe, packed with nutrients and delicious. I’ll be making this soon.

susan c

I just bought 8 cans of organic chick peas, and this will be tops on the list of recipes to try with them. Thanks! Maggie


A new way to enjoy an old favorite. Looks delicious, I can’t wait to try it!


I made this and it was a breath of fresh air! Yum. I didn’t have kale handy, so I used swiss chard instead. I love this site! Keep up the great work!


Yum, yum! This is my dinner for tomorrow night. Thanks for another wonderful way to use kale which I adore it is so robust.


Beautiful! I’m totally trying this!
love that its vegan 😉

Danielle Levy

I notice you really like cooking with citrus.

Alex Leibowitz

WOW! I have all of these ingredients… totally making this soon. Love all the protein 🙂


i made this for dinner last night and then ate the leftovers for a late breakfast. it’s so tasty! and the perfect break from typical college food.

Clementine Wall

i made this for dinner last night and then ate the leftovers for a late breakfast. it’s so tasty! and the perfect break from typical college food.

Clementine Wall

I love chickpeas, and this is a fantastic way to use them! It looks delicious.


This is a great healthy meal, but I needed to convince my family that chickpeas and tofu are good foods. I added about 1 cup of cooked chicken to the recipe and replaced the kale with broccoli. The tofu takes on a little of the chicken flavor. Heartily endorsed by the family!


Biz – regarding kale’s bitterness; have you tried boiling it for a minute or two (or three) before adding it to a dish? This help soften it slightly and I think it makes the flavor a little milder as well.


I doubt I could convince my bacon-loving boyfriend to eat chickpeas, but I wanted to say thank you for making me aware of Kiva. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never heard of the organization before, but I have now registered and passed the info along to many of my friends, at least one of whom has already registered as a lender herself. And who says one person can’t make a difference? 🙂


I cooked this today for lunch. Rather than “golden and crusty,” the pre-cooked chickpeas were hard as rocks. Any suggestions? It definitely needed the lemon and zest for a bit of punch.


Love love love chickpeas. And easy no fuss recipes. I might try this stir fry this weekend – I’m sure it’ll pair well with beer and college football 🙂


this is exactly what i have been craving all week, i just didn’t know it until now!!
thank you heidi for telling us all about kiva. it’s amazing how many people have responded positively and joined in. i am planning on purchasing loan gift certificates for all my family members for christmas — others should consider doing the same! great job using your reach for good, heidi 🙂


That looks fabulous. Do you think a little bit of curry would go well with that? Or maybe just a bit of mustard seed?


congrats on kiva! and about ghee…the smell makes my mouth water. i love cooking with it! this recipe sounds great, thank you.

Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

Fit bottomed Girls: If you’re on the west coast, WinCo has dried chickpeas in the bulk section for about a buck a pound.
I just tried pan frying legumes a few days ago using a recipe from Heidi’s supernatural cookbook. YUM!


Hmm, you’ve done it now Heidi. You’ve broken Kiva. In part because of the big influx of people from 101 cookbooks, all of the Lending Opportunities have been filled at Kiva. We should all send them emails to congratulate them and tell them they need to keep the supply side up!

We broke Kiva!

oh yum. I would sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. I love sesame seeds with kale.


I love pan-fried chick peas. Sometimes I eat them just as snack with lemon, cilantro, and sea salt, or even toss them on a salad. I will definitely try this stir-fry version with greens. Your version with tofu must really make it a protein powerhouse! Thanks Heidi!

Julie's Raw Ambition

Yum! I’m excited about this recipe because I have all the ingredients (if I substitute spinach for the kale).


This is exactly the type of dish I like to make on a busy week night. Looks delicious.


This looks delicious and simple – can’t wait to try it!


My kind of food. Easy and quick.
Jane: Spinach or most any green should work in a dish like this. Kale often retains a bit more texture than some other greens when cooked. Something like broccoli rabe might be too bitter, depending on tastes. You could even go with good ol’ broccoli.


This is what we’re having for dinner tonight! I love doing dishes like this – I just picked up some nice mushroom tofu, it will go great in here.


Great tip regarding ghee for cooking chickpeas. Can’t wait to try this!


I never thought about putting chickpeas in a stir fry before, I usually just toss then in a salad if it happens to be on a salad bar. I think I would substitute fresh spinach for the kale, I can’t seem to get over the bitterness of kale (maybe I am cooking it worng?!)
Thanks Heidi for another great recipe!


Hello from Canada! Oh my Mom is going to flip over this recipe! Thanks.

Liberty Post Editor

This look fantastic! I love chickpeas!
I just used some ghee last night to toast off some wild rice before cooking. I love the subtle flavor it gives food. I’m definitely going to be using it more in my cooking.


I’m in a “lemony!” period: I try to put it everywhere… the juice, the zest! It’s so fresh and clean! I think I’ll copy your idea.


This sounds like my variation of your “ten-minute brown rice and asparagus” recipe, as I find that using asparagus in it is an awful waste of asparagus as its delicate flavour is killed off by the other strong flavours. So I substitute other veg – often cabbage or spring greens, occasionally leeks, sometimes a mixture.

Mrs Redboots

Sophie, it’s easy to make your own ghee (when butter is on sale). A pound (or 500g) of butter in a saucepan, melt over low heat and cook gently until all the water has been driven off and the little white flakes begin to take colour. Then pour off the liquid butter, leaving any solid residue behind. Keeps well without refrigeration.


The canned chickpeas I buy are always so hard…and I’ve never seen dried chickpeas in the store. Any suggestions on where I should go to find either?

Fit Bottomed Girls

Well, I found a great recipe to try this weekend! Thank you Heidi!


A single-skillet meal?? Score!!


I love a one pot dish! This sounds like a perfect quick lunch. I’ve been using Nigella Lawson’s idea a lot recently of tipping a can of drained canellini beans into a stir fry instead of cooking some rice in another pan.
Very intrigued that you have used ghee in this one Heidi! I largely steer away from ghee because of the high saturated fat content but that isn’t the entire truth. A little bit of what you fancy in moderation is my nutritional philosophy and besides, the other ingredients are all very nutritious. Nope, it’s just that the ghee you get in England always smells really rank. I’ll keep my eyes open for a higher quality ghee to try.


I just made this with cucumber and mint instead of zucchini and kale … fantastic!!! [had to make do with what i had in the fridge :-)]. Thnx for the recipe!!!!


Normally not one to gravitate to things simply because they are good for me I find your recipes tasty as well as nutritional. I can feel very righteous when serving this dish! “Lemony Chickpea stir-fry” does sound better than “antioxidant, beta carotene, anti-cancer property, fiber stir-fry!” I do love Kale and Chickpeas! Although, is sounds like Jane does not love kale? I’m sure you’ll address this Heidi, but kale is from the same family as broccoli (also cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens). Kale freezes well, and actually I think it tastes sweeter after it’s been frozen. At least my Italian grandmother said so – she didn’t harvest her last kale of the season until after a frost. Slow Food started in Italy, or me it started with my grandmother. Maybe Jane could use broccoli rabe? Here in Naples we call it Friarielli, and I love it on pizza!


Simple, yet creative. Beautiful picture, by the way. I bet my toddler would love this. She loves both legumes and dark greens!

Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet

Can we use anything else to replace the kale??


I get a lot of miles out of theTen Minute Tasty Asparagus and Brown Rice Recipe with the pan browned chick peas. This will be a nice variation. I’m a garbonzo bean lover to the nth degree (my name is Catherine and I admit I have a problem… : )


I love how simple and delicious this looks. And it’s a great way to use some kale, which I’ve been meaning to eat more of!


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