Gar-BAN-zo!

Our farmers, as you will soon see, produce a lot of garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas. These tasty, fat, little round beans are super versatile, and chock-full of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They may seem a little more exotic than your everyday pinto bean, but believe-you-me, they will become one of your favorites if you give them a try!

Garbonzos in the pod. Cute!

Domesticated garbanzo beans are an ancient crop, being found in caves with other refuse dating back to 6790 BC. They probably originated somewhere in the Middle East (like pretty much everything else…), and were, and continue to be a staple food in that area and Eastern Asia.

The name “garbanzo” possibly stems from the Basques, a sub-autonomous culture in northeastern Spain. Their word for this bean is garbantzu. “Chickpea,” on the other hand, stems from the French word for the bean, chiche, and slurred into “chickpea” in English. Neat-o. 

Garbanzo plants

Garbanzo beans are grown all over the world, with India being the largest producer of the crop. They thrive in sub-tropical climates, where they get a little more rain, but certain varieties do well in more temperate areas, such as the United States, Pakistan, and Australia. Garbanzo beans grown the US come mostly from California, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Idaho is the largest producer of small Desi beans, and Washington leads in the production of the larger Kabuli beans.

Interesting fact -The US actually imports garbanzos because we don’t grow enough to meet our demand and the demand of countries who also buy from our farmers! Most of our beans come from Mexico and Canada (Canada??). US garbanzos are eaten by us, and also sent to Spain, Turkey, and India.

Why eat anything else??

There are two main types of garbanzo beans cultivated today. Desi-type beans are smaller, with rougher coats, and vary in color, from light tan to black. Kabuli-type beans are larger, rounder, and have light, smooth coats. You will most likely find Kabuli-type beans in cans at the grocery store.  Both types of beans carry the same nutritional power punch, and add great texture and taste to pretty much any dish.

Like I’ve said already, garbanzo beans are super versatile. They can be roasted, ground, mashed, blended, baked; thrown into salads, soups, pastas, rice, and eggs, or used to pump up meat dishes, since they have a good, hearty texture and taste.  They are even used in desserts! Their flavor is mild, and doesn’t overpower the rest of the dish, while their high protein and fiber content fills you right up! What are you making for dinner tonight? Grab a can of garbanzo beans and throw them right in! Seriously! Do it!

Canned garbanzo beans make life easy, and I usually have a can or two on my shelf for those (very, very, very, very rare) days when I don’t plan ahead. Dry garbanzo beans can be bought in the dry bean or bulk aisles, and are easy to prepare. Like other dry beans, soaking garbanzos in cold water overnight will make cooking faster, although they will still need to be cooked for at least an hour or two in order to be edible.  

Kabuli-type garbanzos

 If you’ve never used garbanzo beans in your cooking before, take a chance on these tasty little beans. You’ll be supporting our hardworking farmers and be adding an interesting, nutritional new food to your menu! We love garbanzo beans, including TheWeeLaddie, who will eat them in soups, sides, and even curried!

What are your favorite ways to prepare garbanzo beans? 

Information for this article was taken from the following websites:
http://www.agmrc.org/commodities__products/vegetables/chickpea-profile/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chickpea

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