Friday, April 22, 2011

Chez Justin & Michelle: Fresh Garbanzo Beans

Yesterday, on my way home, I took a slight detour and poked my nose into Oriental Pastry and Grocery on Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn, just for fun. It smells wonderful in there, with all the spices and olives and teas and coffees. After purchasing a half pound of their delicious, almost fluffy Syrian pistachio halvah that my gut doesn't need right now, I turned around to leave and saw out of the corner of my eye, right next to the vats of olives and pickles in brine, something unusual. Something wonderful. Fresh -- FRESH! -- garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas), still in their papery pods.

The specimens at Oriental Pastry and Grocery ranged from medium green (underripe) to pale yellow (perfect), but I was in a hurry and too lazy to pick through them. So I scooped up a few handfuls, paid, and scurried home as fast as I could to cook these things up.

Fresh garbanzo beans are not uncommon in farmers' markets and supermarkets on the West Coast, especially in areas with large Latino communities, but I've actually never once seen them on the East Coast. They taste a little bit like edamame or, some people say, like green peas. Most preparations I've seen call for either eating them raw or steamed (i.e. in a salad or with pasta), roughly grinding them up for falafel or green hummus, or pan roasting them, pods on. But after popping a few of these raw, it was clear that the fresh, mild green flavor of fresh garbanzo would go wonderfully with rich, creamy butter -- and lots of it.

Butter Sauteed Fresh Garbanzos

  • 1/2 pound fresh garbanzo beans, shelled
  • 4 tbs sweet butter
  • 1/4 cup broth
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and black pepper to taste


In a saucepan large enough to hold all the garbanzos in a single layer, melt butter and add garbanzos.

Sautee beans over medium-low flame, stirring occasionally, until garbanzos are spotted with brown.

Add broth, turn up flame to medium. When almost all of the broth has cooked off, remove from heat, add lemon juice, lemon peel, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve as a side dish or toss with pasta. We had ours with soft polenta, glazed lamb chop and green salad, topped with a sprinkling of chives and parsley: a perfect, simple springtime meal.

Oriental Pastry and Grocery
170 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Neighborhood: Cobble Hill
(718) 875-7687

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