Ingredient Alert! Fresh Chick Peas at Whole Foods (with Recipes)

These fresh garbanzo beans (aka chick peas) were on sale in the produce section of the Whole Foods in NYC's Union Square.

So, after strolling through the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday, I ducked into Whole Foods to pick up a few staples and things I couldn’t find at the market. (Despite the beautiful spring weather, it’s just too soon to harvest much of anything locally.) And there in the produce section, I spotted these beautiful fresh garbanzo beans (aka chick peas) in the pod. I’ve only ever seen them for sale before on the streets of Naples. And here they were in downtown Manhattan!

As soon as the crazy lady who was slowly sorting through ginger, spreading it and her bags out over everything in the vicinity, including my chick peas, was finished, I dove in. I bought about a pound of the peas in the pods, which amounted to a little more than a cup shelled. The pods are small and papery. They pop when you open them, revealing one or two chick peas inside. The fresh chick peas are  bright green in color. When cooked, they are less starchy, more vegetal, than their dried cousins. And they have a great texture that doesn’t turn to mush, even after reheating.

This is a photo of chick peas growing in the field.

I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with these beauties, but I knew I would change the menu for our dinner party the next night in order to incorporate them. I decided to turn the chick peas into a sort of chunky sauce for fish cooked en papillote (seasoned simply with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sweet, smoky pimenton de la Vera). I combined the chick peas with the flavors of the Maghreb: toasted cumin, preserved lemon, hot pepper, and olive oil. The result, if the plates that were literally licked clean are any indication, was absolutely delicious.

Salted, preserved lemons, Moroccan–style.

Preserved lemon dressing is a new staple of mine. I love it as a dressing on carrot salad, as a sauce on fish or chicken, and as an ingredient in other dishes, as I used it here. Preserved lemons are very easy to make, but they take about 3 weeks to cure. You can find recipes, or techniques, rather, for them all over the web and in cookbooks (remember those?). Look for one by Paula Wolfert or Nancy Jenkins. You can also buy them in jars or in bulk (at Fairway).

Braised Fresh Chick Peas with Preserved Lemon and Toasted Cumin
Makes enough sauce for 8 servings of fish

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 small white onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 hot red chile, seeded and minced

1 small carrot, grated

1 pound fresh chick peas in the pod, about 1 1/4 cups shelled

1/4 dry white wine

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon preserved lemon dressing (see recipe below)

In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and chile and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the carrot, and continue cooking until soft, another 3 minutes or so. Add the chick peas, wine, water, cumin, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover the pot, turn down the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the preserved lemon dressing. Spoon over baked or steamed fish.

Preserved Lemon Dressing
Makes about 1 cup

1 or 2 wedges of a preserved lemon, seeds removed, coarsely chopped (flesh, rind, zest and all)

1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup water

1/4 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin

Freshly ground black pepper

Pinch salt

Place the lemon, garlic, oil, water, cumin and black pepper into the mixing/measuring bowl of an immersion blender or into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Using an immersion blender, purée until smooth (a good five minutes or so of pulsing). If the mixture is too thick, add additional water and/or olive oil to thin down. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. (Note that whether or not you need any additional salt will depend on how salty your lemons were and how much water you added.)

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3 Comments

Filed under Recipe Box, Shop Talk, Taste Tidbits

3 responses to “Ingredient Alert! Fresh Chick Peas at Whole Foods (with Recipes)

  1. Eileen Walker

    I was so surprised to read the only time you had seen green chickpeas sold on the streets was in Naples. I live in Ventura County, CA. Two days a week I have office hourse in the Colonia (predominantly Mexican) section of Oxnard. Daily, you will see truck loads of chickpea plants for sale and people gathered around buying. And by the way, they are really good eaten green!!!

  2. A little late to the game here…..but they are also available at the Tribeca Farmer’s Market in NYC. I love to throw them into ratatouille. You can also make hummus out of them.

  3. Anton

    Fresh chick peas are a delight which I dont see too much around here. We used to see truck loads selling on the side of the road where we used to go for holiday in Turkey. A seasonal delight. Not used the same as the dried ones, they’re eaten raw or as a quick cooked fresh vegetable. Toasted in a little garlic olive oil with spicy seasoning and some lemon juice they make a yummy snack or starter. Just very slightly caramelised in a pan until the lemon juice vanishes.

    If you like the colour of bright green humus, or to make the various sauces included soup or puree the baby dried chickpeas are the ones, these are bright green like split dried peas are mostly. They give the earthy warm depth of flavour of the normal dried Chick peas plus a little more sweetness perhaps.

    Im definitely going to try a version of your braised chickpeas and preserved lemons, almost all the ingredients sound like they fell from heaven into one perfect little dish. I spied a large bottle of preserved lemons just yesterday in the shop too! I wont find fresh chick peas though so I will have to substitute with fava beans, these tender delights are readily available frozen. Unfortunately the small carrot will have to go as well as I cant stomach cooked carrot, in common with my horses I find them not at all palatable. Funnily enough about the only thing I wont eat. I think from growing up pulling fresh carrots out our gardeners veg patch and crunching away on the spot. The cooked pasty version just leaves me cold, even just lightly cooked, Im turned off completely by the smell. I must be a horse, but isn’t the texture of cooked carrot just such a caution, like rotten mush is?

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