Meet my new favorite thing ever — green chickpeas!

So, up until last month, I honestly had no idea that “green chickpeas” existed. I mean, I’d heard my husband talk about buying fresh garbanzo beans before, but things never really clicked in my mind. And so I was unaware of not only their existence, but also how awesome they are. This obliviousness continued until my trip to Seattle a few weeks ago. The first meal I had there was part of an Iberico pork luncheon at Lark restaurant where Chef Johnathan Sundstrom prepared an amazing dish using green chickpeas.

Iberico pork lomo (loin) with green chickpeas and olive oil

My co-worker Ariel, who has never been a fan of canned chickpeas, was very intrigued. And honestly, so was I. I have always liked “regular” chickpeas — but these were somehow entirely different while being very similar. The taste was a bit milder and the texture a bit softer. Their shape was the same, though the green ones had a bit more variance to their size, much like fresh peas.

After that meal, it seemed as though green chickpeas followed us everywhere. We ran across them at Madison Park Conservatory (in a fabulous chicken dish) and again at Altura, served with their rabbit entrée. Every time we saw them, Ariel and I exchanged glances and vowed to find out if they could be sourced anywhere in Portland.

And, happily, they are. Upon being enthusiastically quizzed about green chickpeas, my husband said something to the effect of, “Yeah, I’ve been using them for years. That’s what they look like when they’re fresh.” Apparently I had even been with him numerous times when he had bought them.

Oh.

Well, that clears some things up, I guess! My next project was now to buy some and experiment with cooking them. And, as luck would have it, the following weekend I found some at Winco, the last place I would have expected.

Chickpeas in their pods

Empty shells

Shelling chickpeas

Raw fresh “green” chickpeas

So basically the chickpeas come in pods — much like edamame. Just shell them, toss the husks and blanch them in salted boiling water. Now, please note, the chickpeas will be all over the place size-wise, but I just cooked them until the largest ones were tender and didn’t feel like it was detrimental to the smallest ones. They retained their slightly firm, yet creamy texture.

After their boiling water bath, they are much more vibrant and you can pretty much do anything with them! Put them on a green salad, use them in a succotash, sauté them up in butter and garlic. Really, anything will be good.

I decided to use mine as part of a vegetable medley in my warm steak salad. I had part of a grilled ribeye leftover as well as some extra grilled asparagus, zucchini and spring onions.

But first I sautéed up my chickpeas with sliced shallots. I cooked them on medium heat until the shallots were tender. (As a disclaimer I started the chickpeas early because they were really only blanched until al dente and I wanted a softer texture in my salad.)

Such pretty chickpeas

Then I added my veggies…including some blanched green beans, cut into thirds. Once everything was hot, I spooned the veggies onto a plate.

Veggie delight

Next came the steak, which I sliced into thin strips and tossed in the pan just to get warm..

Yum! Steak….

I topped it with some bleu cheese and, quite simply, that’s all it took to make some magic.


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