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 Latino 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 jalapeño and served with pita bread or an assortment of crudité including cucumbers, baby turnips, radishes and rainbow carrots. It’s a perfect dish to celebrate the colorful bounty of spring.