Friday, September 07, 2012

fresh green garbanzo beans

Just because I'm not here doesn't mean I'm not thinking of you, neglected reader.  I'm filled with intent to write:  about lofty ideas like the intersection of simple offerings and true hospitality, about my strong (and might I add, correct) opinions regarding the kind of restaurant that Los Feliz really needs, about the amazing book An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler and how it's changed my life.  I've wanted to write about summer, about newly teetering work-life balance and the mix of pride and ambivalence I feel about that, about an impromptu recipe for stuffed and fried squash blossoms that was at once crisp, vegetal, and meltingly creamy, about the three beautiful farmers markets that my neighborhood offers, about the perfection that is Proof Bakery, about how I've managed to distill down what I love in a restaurant, about how my apartment requires throughput in the form of dinner guests.

The ideas pile up, and they get a little oppressive.  Who can write under all that pressure?

But this post pretty much wrote itself.  Drew itself, really.  Fresh, green garbanzo beans impelled me to take their picture at every stage.  When you see an old, familiar ingredient in such a bizarre and otherworldly new light, you can't be flip about it.

A friend was out of town last weekend, and generously had me pick up her farmshare and use as much of it as I wanted.  Among a bounty of yellow zucchini, giant jalapeƱos, Swiss chard, strawberries, and more, I also got a massive bunch of fresh garbanzos.  And by bunch, I mean an unruly jumble of oversized, nappy branches, sprinkling tiny leaves wherever they passed.  And on each one was an abundance of adorable, fuzzy little pods.

It turns out that garbanzos are a slow food through and through.  Some might see it as a burden, but for me, sitting at my kitchen table, first snipping probably a hundred little pods off the branches, then splitting (some of) them open one by one, sent me right back to childhood.  My mom would always give me the task of pulling fava beans from their long fuzzy pods, or picking bitter seeds out of sticky dried lemons, and these manual tasks are as satisfying and soothing now as they were then.
2 chickpeas in a pod
As I said, I did harvest some of them from their tiny pods, to boil and add to a salad of kale, tomatoes, and fresh basil.  But I had another idea for the rest.  In keeping with the patience their preparation required, I wanted eating them to be slow, too.  I roasted them in a grill pan until their pods were slightly charred, to be peeled at the table:  a sort of cross between edamame and grilled shishito peppers.

It worked!  Though all of the seasoning goes on the chickpea's inedible skin, bits of salt and smoky char invariably end up on your fingers, and from there find their way into your mouth.  Totally satisfying.
the aftermath
Pan-grilled Green Garbanzo Beans

Obviously this won't work on a real grill, as the little guys will fall through!  But if you don't have a grill pan, I think any pan would work here.

Green garbanzo beans, still in the pod
Olive oil

Heat a grill pan over high heat.  Drizzle garbanzos with olive oil, toss to coat all of them.  Add to grill pan, and after a couple minutes, stir.  Try to allow both sides of each pod a chance to brown.  Once you've got some char, but before beans burn completely, remove from pan to a bowl.  Toss with salt, then cover with a plate to allow them to soften further from their own steam for a few minutes before serving.