Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chick peas in the pod

And after shelling
Fresh Legumes

I love chick peas, a.k.a. garbanzos or ceci. So when I spied fresh chick peas in the pod at Iovine Brothers today, a grabbed them.

At $5.99/pound they are dear, and the yield of edible bean is only about 65-70 percent of the pod weight. Plus, since there are only one or sometimes two beans to a pod, a bit of work is involved in prepping; it took me nearly a quarter of an hour to shell five ounces of pods, which produced enough beans for one modest portion of 3-3/8 ounces before cooking.

When in doubt, I turn to Mark Bittman for cooking advice, which in this case suggested (for all fresh legumes) bringing the beans to a boil in water to cover, then simmering for 20 minutes before testing for doneness. (I added plenty of salt to the cooking liquid.) I pulled them after about 17 minutes cooking, and they probably could have been pulled two or three minutes earlier. Still, most of the beans retained the meaty mouth feel I associated with garbanzos as well as a fresh, more nuanced version of their characteristic flavor.

The salt in the cooking water, and a grind of black pepper over the drained beans, was a perfect seasoning, though there's no reason why you couldn't treat them like peas with some butter on top. I imagine they'd also do well mashed (a play on the Englishman's mushy peas) or pureed.

All in all this was a delightful vegetal treat to break up the winter root vegetable blahs.

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