The garbanzo bean, also known as chickpeas, ceci, and channa, is a member of the legume family. A high protein food source that farmers cultivated in the Middle East 7500 years ago, the ancient Greeks and Romans ate garbanzo beans.
Cultures in many parts of the world currently eat garbanzo beans, especially in the form of hummus, the popular Middle Eastern spread. In the Indian sub-continent, the most popular vegetarian foods consist of garbanzo beans. Other cultures use garbanzo beans in sweets and desserts.
Garbanzo beans served as a coffee substitute in 18th century Europe and in Germany during WWI. There are still some Europeans who brew garbanzo beans instead of coffee.
Many Americans encounter garbanzo beans in dried or canned forms. The variety of garbanzo bean that the Black Cat Farm cultivates is a black garbanzo bean that starts green when fresh and gradually becomes black as it matures.
Fresh garbanzo beans are a special treat. They are sweeter, have a deeper flavor, and cook in radically less time than dried garbanzo beans. Unlike dried garbanzo beans, they have a pea-like cast to their flavor. Whereas dried garbanzo beans take 1-2 hours to cook, it takes 1/2 of a minute to cook fresh garbanzo beans.
An easy method to prepare fresh garbanzo beans is to cook and eat them like edamame: steam and salt or boil them in salted water, then suck the beans out of the pods.
The following recipe for fresh garbanzo bean ragu or stew from Eric illustrates how easy it is to cook a flavorful fresh garbanzo bean dish. Depending on how you use it, the same dish can serve as a ragu when spooned over pasta or a grain or a stew if cooked in greater quantity as a main dish.
Note: The quantities for the below ingredients are for a ragu that serves 5 people. Scale up the quantities when serving as a main dish.
2 pints of fresh garbanzo beans
1 medium onion
3 medium tomatoes or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
Zest of half of a lemon
Salt to taste
1. Shuck the fresh garbanzo beans.
2. If using medium-sized tomatoes, cut tomatoes in half.
3. Chop the onion.
4. Set the burner heat to medium.
5. Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and place it on the burner.
6. When the pan is hot, add the cumin seeds and chopped onion. Saute until the onion is softened and the air is fragrant with the smell of cumin.
7. Add the shucked garbanzo beans to the pan.
8. After 30 seconds, add the tomatoes.
9. Cook until the tomatoes burst and make a sauce.
10. Remove the pan from the burner, add lemon zest, stir, and salt to taste.