While you can readily buy dried or canned chickpeas at your local supermarket, fresh chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, aren't so common a find. Similar to fava beans and English peas, fresh chickpeas grow on vines and generally contain one to two beans per pod. The smallish pods can frequently be found in Middle Eastern and Latin markets, as well as at the occasional farmers market stand. To shell the beans, simply pop the peas out of their thick, fuzzy pods; figure that one pound of pods will yield half its weight in peas. Then blanch the beans in salted water until tender, only a minute or two.
Like fava beans and peas, fresh chickpeas can be used in a variety of dishes ranging from salads to soups, stews and spring ragouts. Reader Sandi Coffey is a big fan of the green chickpea hummus at the Rooftop by JG in Beverly Hills. The dip, made with the vibrant beans, is flavored with garlic, lemon, fresh mint and a touch of jalapeno, and served with pita bread or a assortment of crudité including cucumbers, baby turnips, radishes and rainbow carrots. It's a perfect dish to celebrate the colorful bounty of spring.
GREEN CHICKPEA HUMMUS FROM THE ROOFTOP BY JG
40 minutes. Serves 4 to 6
12 ounces of fresh shelled green chickpeas or garbanzo beans, plus extra for garnish
½ teaspoon of chopped garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno
½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more if needed
Fresh dill sprigs, for garnish
Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish
Whole wheat pita or crudité, for serving
1. Blanch the chickpeas in a pot of boiling water just until tender, 1 to 2 minutes, then shock in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the chickpeas well and add to the bowl of a food processor, along with the garlic, lemon juice, jalapeno and ½ cup oil, processing until almost smooth but with a little texture. Season with salt to taste.
2. Serve the hummus garnished with extra chickpeas, fresh herb sprigs and a drizzle of olive oil along with the pita or crudité.
Note: Adapted from a recipe provided by the Rooftop by JG in Beverly Hills.