Tasted fresh green chickpeas for the first time; they were chewy and slightly sweet with a hint of earthy goodness.
Chickpeas are a legume; also known as a pulse. The chickpeas I have encountered in my life have always been dried first, the soaked to revive and they have always been the white variation. As such, they have not been one of my favorite foods. So, I must admit my culinary ignorance and share that I had no idea they also grew in green. I realized upon reflection as I was eating my fresh green chickpeas that I knew precious little about the chickpea; other than the basic nutrient content. Finding them on my plate was an unexpectedly delicious treat.
There are three main varieties of chickpea, (also called a garbanzo bean) white, black, and green; although the black chickpea is not really black just darker than its counterparts. Interestingly, it is the small dark variation that seems to be the closest descendent to the ancient chickpea seeds found in various archeological digs across the European continent. The other two varieties, white and green, are cultivated varieties and have become mainstays in many cultures around the world. They can be eaten as the whole bean, ground into a puree and used in things like hummus, or dried and ground into a flour and used to make a variety of flatbreads and other culinary endeavors. I tend to relate foods made from chickpeas to cuisine from the middle-east and India, however, there are also quite a few dishes in Italian, French and other European cuisines that use chickpeas as a main ingredient. My dinner last night was a delicious meal of fresh green chickpeas served with Panisse; which is a fried bread made from chickpea flour. Very delicious. Now I’m on a mission to find more fresh chickpeas and make them into fun and delicious meals.
From a health perspective, chickpeas are a great source of fiber and nutrition. They are a unique source of a variety of phytonutrients and provide some pretty cool health benefits. Recently the focus of research on the chickpea has been on its unique fiber content. Most of the fiber in the chickpea is insoluble with the added benefit of increasing the amount of nutrient that makes it to your colon and the transit time. Recent studies demonstrated that people who ate garbanzo beans compared to people who ate the same amount of fiber but from other foods, also found a decrease in LDL, and an increase in insulin regulation. The antioxidants in chickpeas also contribute to decreasing systemic inflammation and oxidative stress.
After researching the topic, I have found that green chickpeas are being sustainably cultivated in various states across the U.S. They are not only a body friendly food but also a planet friendly food, in that they act as a natural soil fertilizer and increases depleted nitrogen content in soil. Chickpeas are being recognized as one of the top crops for sustainable agriculture.
If you are up for some delicious fried (or baked) goodness, give these a try! (gluten free, protein dense, and delicious) This recipe occurs in two steps and the batter for the panisse can be made a day ahead.
- 4 c. water (or broth)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 1/4 c. garbanzo flour
- 1-2 tsp garam masala (or spice of your choice)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- oil, for frying
Begin to heat the water, oil, salt and pepper, as it is heating and before it boils, begin whisking in the flour so that it doesn’t form lumps, add the spices, and continue stirring until the mixture is thick and smooth and begins to pull from the sides of the pan holding its shape. Scoop into a greased 9-inch cake pan, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. This will allow the mixture to set. When you’re ready to fry them take the mixture out of the fridge, slice into small rectangles (batons) and then quickly fry, drain, and serve. If you are avoiding fried foods, that’s okay... I found some recipes for baking, 375 degrees for 10 minutes. I always encourage experimentation and finding your own most delicious option.