The faintly green, velvety pods enclose tender, crisp beans that will leave you enchanted. These beans are not edamame or favas; they are fresh garbanzos, and their flavor never fails to surprise and delight. Whether pan-roasted or steamed, they vanish in an instant as people eagerly reach for one after another. The taste is distinctive and vibrant, reminiscent of a freshly picked pea. It begs the question: where have they been all our lives?
Once a rarity at farmers markets, fresh garbanzos can now be found in numerous supermarkets. Finally, they can be savored in abundance. These beans are versatile – a touch of salt is enough to bring out their natural goodness. They complement soups, vegetable sautés, and salads. Chefs across town are also having a blast experimenting with them.
At Noe in downtown L.A., Robert Gadsby adds fresh garbanzos to soup, risotto, and even a tuna sashimi plate. David LeFevre’s summer plans at Water Grill include a fresh garbanzo bean cake topped with garbanzo sprouts, as well as a combination of fresh garbanzos, pomegranate seeds, and grilled octopus or stuffed calamari. Suzanne Goin of AOC presents grilled salmon with a salad of fresh garbanzos, purslane, green onions, and lemon.
Chris Kidder, the executive chef of Literati II in Brentwood, incorporates these beans into fritto misto (fried mixed vegetables) and creates a salad with fresh garbanzos, tomato, fennel, and black olive bread. Kidder explains that they aimed for a light, summery dish that included ingredients in season, like garbanzos and tomatoes, along with other pantry staples.
Not only are fresh garbanzos delicious, but they are also hassle-free, especially if you buy them pre-shelled. Unlike dried beans, they don’t require lengthy soaking and boiling. Throughout the California season, from now until October, you can find fresh shelled garbanzos, also known as chickpeas, at Whole Foods stores. After that, the harvest moves to central Mexico until spring, when the California season begins anew.
If you prefer beans in their pods, head to farmers markets or Latino markets like Cardenas and Numero Uno. Food 4 Less stores also offer them this way. If you need to cook a larger batch but can only find them in the pods, set aside enough time to shell them. It’s a simple task that takes a little patience.
Fresh garbanzos have a long history in Mexico and India and are just starting to gain popularity here. In Gujarat, India, they are popular roasted over a wood fire or as an appetizer with onion, chili, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Nalin Patel, owner of Maurya Indian restaurant in Beverly Hills, explains that in his native state of Gujarat, they are a beloved treat. Jayanta Paul, the restaurant’s executive chef, enjoys preparing fresh garbanzos with mushrooms in a Punjabi-style tomato sauce, which can stand alone as a hearty main dish.
To infuse a summer dish with the goodness of fresh garbanzos, try adding them to Mexican calabacitas, a colorful combination of squash, corn, tomatoes, and green chilies. The addition of garbanzos enhances the dish’s appeal, making it even more enticing.
These down-to-earth, practical, and delicious fresh garbanzos have been sorely missed. It’s about time they made their way onto our plates. So, the next time you come across these pale green pods, don’t hesitate to grab a handful and experience the surprising delight of fresh garbanzo beans.
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