Friday, August 31, 2012

Fresh Garbanzo Bean Bruschetta

I love garbanzo beans.  Two of my favorite salads include garbanzos and hummus is one of my go to recipes for an easy and versatile dip.  Since I learned to pressure can, I've been canning my own garbanzos from dried organic beans.  But I never had fresh garbanzo beans until today, and what a delicious surprise they are!

It turns out fresh garbanzo beans are more akin to fresh fava beans or fresh peas than to their canned cousins.  When I took the beans home, I thought I was going to make hummus.  But after experimenting with different methods of cooking, most resulting in beautiful, bright green, and slightly nutty-flavored morsels, I just didn't have the heart to mask the delicate sweetness of the fresh garbanzos by adding too many strong flavors.  Hence today's recipe for Fresh Garbanzo Bean Bruschetta.

Before getting to today's recipe, I thought I'd share the results of my cooking experiments.  I started by pulling the pods off the stalks and composting the stalks and leaves.  I hear tell you can make a tea from the dried leaves, but I didn't try it myself.

Most recipes call for cooking garbanzos in their pods.  I suspect this is because it's easier to shell the beans once the pods are softened by the cooking process.  However, I shelled some raw beans and boiled them in a small amount of salted water in a covered pan for 3-4 minutes and they were delicious.  As were the pan juices which I saved to add to soup stock.

Boiling garbanzo beans in their pods causes the pods to soak up some of the boiling liquid making them messier to peel, so steaming the beans over boiling water is a better alternative if you don't want to bother shelling the raw beans.  However, removing the pods of cooked beans is only slightly less work than shelling the raw beans.

I also sauteed the beans in their pods in a hot skillet with a little olive oil.  I cooked them until they were lightly browned, about 5 minutes, stirring periodically.  I allowed the beans to cool slightly, sprinkled them with salt and ate them like edamame, sliding them out of their pods.  They didn't slide quite as easily as edamame, but they were also delicious.

Finally, I microwaved some beans in their pods.  I zapped them in 30 second intervals and thought they were best after 90 seconds.  However, I didn't care for the microwaved beans.  While it was clearly the easiest and quickest way to cook the beans, they were noticeably less sweet and more starchy in taste and texture.  Personally, I wouldn't recommend microwaving fresh garbanzo beans.

By the way, you can eat raw garbanzos.  They're a bit crunchier than cooked, but they have a lovely sweetness.

To make Fresh Garbanzo Bean Bruschetta:

2 C fresh garbanzo beans in their pods
1 T olive oil, divided
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
6-8 thin slices crusty whole-grain bread*
1 clove garlic, optional

*such as Mark Stambler's miche

1.  Wash and dry the garbanzo beans in their pods.

2.  Heat 1 t  olive oil in a cast iron or heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the beans and saute, stirring occasionally, until the pods are browned.  Remove from the pan.  Cool until you can touch the beans to remove their pods.

3.  Mash the beans with a sturdy folk or a mortar and pestle until they form a coarse paste.  Stir 1 t olive oil into the bean paste.  Season with sea salt (or other fine salt) and freshly ground pepper.  Set aside/

4.  In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 t olive oil and "grill" the bread until crisp and lightly browned on both sides.  If you'd like, slice an end off the garlic clove and rub the clove lightly on one side of the crisped bread.

5.  Spread the garbanzo paste on the crisped bread and serve.

Today's bounty included:

From Drake Family Farm:  Chevre;

From Jaime Farms:  Romaine lettuce, rainbow chard, and eggplant;

From Jimenez Family Farm:  Fresh garbanzo beans, mixed peppers, cilantro, and Albion strawberries;

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Summer squash, red Russian kale, arugula, dried garlic, yellow onions, and heirloom cherry tomatoes;

From Shear Rock Farms:  Heirloom tomatoes;

From Sweet Tree Farms:  White peaches and green plums; and

From Weiser Family Farms:  La ratte potatoes.

Have a delicious Labor Day!


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