Slightly larger than the average pea, these round, irregular-shaped, buff-colored legumes have a firm texture and mild, nutlike flavor. Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans and ceci ) are used extensively in the Mediterranean, India and the Middle East for dishes such as couscous and hummus. They’ve also found their way into Spanish stews, Italian minestrone and various Mexican dishes, and are fast becoming popular in many parts of the Western and Southwestern United States. Chickpeas are available canned, dried and in some areas, fresh. They’re most commonly used in salads, soups and stews. See also beans.