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Gringo’s guide to fresh green garbanzo beans

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First of all ... NEVER BOIL GARBANZO BEANS ... NEVER !!!

Steam them, roast them, grill them, bake them, fry them, microwave them, eat them raw ... never, ever boil them. More on that later.

Big bunches of fresh garbanzo beans are sold from a truck near my home. Fresh garbanzos come in a pod like a pea, but only two to a pod.

http://www.seasonalchef.com/052403k.jpg
http://spooning.typepad.com/photos/ab...

It turns out that garbanzos also have lots of health benefits.

Raw they have the taste of raw peas. Cooked there is a nutty sweet flavor with a hint of edame. Over-cooked they taste like lima beans ... over-cooked lima beans.

Last week I bought a bunch and here is how they were prepared in order of deliciousness.

- Tomato, Basil, Fresh Garbanzo and Olive Bread Salad
- Fire Roasted Fresh Inshell Garbanzo Beans
- Microwaved or steamed and tossed with chile and lime
- Plain, raw or cooked, eaten like edame or added to salads.
- Garbanzo greens sun tea

There were also recipes to bake garbanzos. Those links are at the end. It is just too hot to turn on the oven at this time.

- Tomato, Basil, Fresh Garbanzo and Olive Bread Salad

The Salad was really delicious. The actual recipe was in a link below, but I wasn’t in the mood to get all the ingredients and just tossed together what was in the house.

- three small tomatoes chopped
- some fresh purple basil
- fresh parsley
- one tablespoon olive oil
- one teaspoon of balsamic apple vinegar

These were all tossed together and let sit on the counter for an hour. Fresh cooked garbanzo beans, removed from pod after cooking, were added. Acme green olive bread was toasted, torn into pieces and tossed with the veggies. This was just excellent. Any combination of similar veggies and herbs can be used. The garbanzos added a nice texture and flavor to the salad.

- Fire Roasted Fresh In shell Garbanzo Beans

Either a grill or a frying pan can be used. I did the frying pan method.

Put a little olive oil in a frying pan. Add a layer of garbanzo beans in their shell. Cover and cook on medium heat for five minutes until bottoms of beans turn black and top of beans are a bright green. Eat like edame, popping out of the shell into your mouth.

The charring gives a nice smoky flavor to the beans and the light olive oil coating ... well, it was like eating popcorn. I don’t add salt, but adding salt to these would be good.

- Microwaved or steamed and tossed with chili and lime

This is how garbanzo beans are traditionally eaten in Mexico from what I read ... well, not microwaved, but tossed with chili and lime.

My preferred method is microwaving. Steaming is more trouble, takes more time and really doesn’t produce a flavor that is any better than microwaving. For an individual portion:

Fill a Tupperware bowl with garbanzo beans in the pod. Lightly cover bowl. Microwave for one minute. Sprinkle with chile powder. Shake container to coat beans. Squeeze lime on beans and shake again to distribute. Eat hot, popping beans from pod, like edame. They are also good refrigerated and eaten a day or two later. Don’t know how long they last because I ate them pretty quickly.

Most microwave recommendations said two minutes, but that over-cooked them in my microwave and the bean shriveled up. Try it at a minute. If that isn’t enough microwave in increments of 30 seconds.

One site offered this suggestion (link below):

“Steam the pods for six minutes, and toss the warm legumes with ample amounts of olive oil and flavorful salt. As you pick out the uber-cute green globes, the oil and salt will coat your fingers and you'll transfer that seasoning to the fresh chickpea. We devoured a small carton in about twenty minutes, prompting the decision to call them "crackpeas."

http://www.sfist.com/archives/2006/07...

- Plain raw or cooked eaten like edame or added to salads.

After steaming or microwaving, just put them in the in the fridge and eat cold like edame.

You CAN shell them raw and add them to a salad. The whole problem with this is that shelling those beans is deadly boring. There are only one or two beans per pod and it takes a loooong time. Pulling those beans off the branches was bad enough. Adding that extra step for no great benefit is more than I ever want to deal with again.

Does anyone know how commercial garbanzo beans get from field to can? I’m telling you, these can be VERY labor intensive and I’d be charging $20 a can for garbanzo beans.

- Garbanzo greens sun tea

Yeah, I wondered if you could do anything with the greens ... there are LOTS of leaves. There was a mention of garbanzo sun tea. Why not?

So I stripped off the best leaves, filled a jar with medium-packed leaves and put water to fill the jar. I rinsed a couple of times and after sitting all night rinsed a few times more. I bought these on the side of the road after all and we weren’t talking organic. Then I put the jar in the window and let it sit three days. I took one sip and tossed it.

Actually the taste turned out to be not bad. I was just squeamish about it. It had sort of a green leafy taste to it. After tossing it, it occurred to me I should have put a shot of lime and chile in there to see how it tasted ... or tequila ... or I should have drank a lot of tequila before drinking the tea so I didn’t care what I was drinking.

Garbanzos can also be roasted in the oven. One recipe said to boil beans for 20 minutes. Drain and spread on a roasting pan in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes at about 375 degrees.

Another skipped the boiling part and just spread them out on a roasting pan that had been sprayed with oil. In that recipe the temperature was 325 and cooking time was 55 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally to even up the browning.

About boiling ...

The water fills up the pod. Bite into the pod when it is hot and a gush of boiling water shoots out burning lips and mouth ... ask how I know this.

Even cooled, the water in the pod makes the bean mushier giving a bad lima bean taste.

Some of the health benefits of the garbanzo:
- Cholesterol lowering
- helps stabilize blood sugar levels
- uh, has this stuff in it that helps people who are sulfite sensitive ... read link
- good for the heart
- good source of iron
- low in calories and fat-free
- good source of manganese
- high source of protein

Health benefits & History of garbanzo beans

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tn...

Selecting fresh garbanzos

Look for branches with lots of plump green pods. I think I got the gringo version as about ten percent were empty pods.

Here’s some recipes

Fire Roasted Fresh Inshell Garbanzo Beans
Steamed Fresh Inshell Garbanzo Beans
http://califresh.net/mpc/docs/Site/Re...

Tomato, Fennel, Fresh Garbanzo and Olive Bread Salad
http://califresh.net/mpc/docs/Site/Re...

Garbanzo- Mushroom Masala
http://califresh.net/mpc/docs/Site/Re...

There was an article with recipes in the LA Times, but there is a charge for it. If interested ...

Hello, garbanzo, is that you?
Fresh and green, they're chickpeas, all right. And what a delight to finally meet them!
Barbara Hansen; Los Angeles Times; Jul 13, 2005; F.3

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  1. Hi rw! I'm not going to let your discovery go unanswered. Pretty cool, you are always on the cutting edge of the new and wonderful to stuff down your gullet. Let me just note raw garbanzo are way superior to canned for cooking. Canned will never become smooth if you need them to - always grainy, I think they can them with something to keep them "firm" but as far as cooking goes, my only use for them is in hummus.

    1. Chickpeas mature in 3-7 months and the leaves turn brown/yellow during maturity. For dry seeds, the plants are harvested at maturity or slightly earlier by cutting them close to the ground or uprooting. The plants are stacked in the field for a few days to dry and later the crop is harvested by combines and threshed from the pods by mechanical beating. The chaff is separated from the grain by winnowing.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Snackish

        Thanks for that answer about why canned beans can be so inexpensive and are not as labor intensive as fresh.

        Thanks Niki, I agree about that texture. I'm not a fan of the canned variety, but really enjoyed the green version.

      2. I thought I'd resurrect this thread since fresh garbanzos are hitting the farmers markets in my area. I bought a bunch and made the Tomato, Basil, Fresh Garbanzo and Olive Bread Salad recipe mentioned above. Link in the OP doesn't work anymore but the entire recipe is here:

        http://articles.latimes.com/2005/jul/...

        1 Reply
        1. re: tcamp

          I had fried fresh garbanzos for the first time at a very expensive restaurant a few days ago, loved them and want to try your recipes. Couldn't believe that my local Walmart carries them, yes you heard right. (Probably because of latino demographic.) I am happy.