Seasonal Spotlight: Fresh Garbanzo Beans

A friend of ours who purchases supplies for a culinary school slipped us a few of these fresh, green beauties the other day. We felt like we were "in" on some clandestine culinary transaction!

Breaking open the pod revealed two perfect garbanzo beans nestled snugly against each other. We ate them right there, popping one and then the other into our mouth with glee.They have a clean grassy taste, very similar to fresh peas. Firm yet chewy, they're not entirely different from canned garbanzo beans, though these had a bit more of a raw fibery texture to them.

The fuzzy pods aren't hard to open. The seam splits when you pinch the top and you can pop the beans out with your thumb. Shelling a bucket might get tiresome, but it's worth it for this rare treat!

You can eat them raw, as we did, either by themselves or in a fresh spring salad. They would also be fantastic steamed or sauteed with a bit of butter and served as a side dish or over pasta.

We'd also love to try them edamame-style: steamed and salted while still in their pods, then use our teeth to split open the shells and grab the beans. This would make such a fun and unusual appetizer at a dinner party!

Unfortunately, fresh garbanzo beans are a blink-and-miss-it kind of vegetable, especially in the Northeast. Whole Foods has them on occasion, but Mexican and Asian markets are probably your best bet for scoring a few pounds. Folks in the south and west coast will probably have better luck finding them at farmers markets.

Any favorite recipes for fresh garbanzo beans?

Related: Seasonal Spotlight--English Peas

(Photo Credit: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)

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