Perhaps this affection for beans is a result of spending my years from age 8 to 22 as a vegetarian, but I am comforted by no food group as much as I am by beans. Most of my teenage years, growing up in Los Angeles, I rarely craved anything other than refried pinto beans and cheese. I realize that there are healthier food choices out there, but one can easily imagine a night as an 18-year-old, spent up to no good, and then coming home starved half to death, and wanting warm, cheesy refried beans. My mother always made sure that there was a tupperware of refried beans in the fridge for me to gorge myself on any time of day or night.
|Dried garbanzo beans before cooking|
While they don't pull the same emotional heart strings as the pinto, garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), make it to my top 5 bean list. I usually eat garbanzos at least once a week, either tossed whole in a green salad, or whipped up into hummus. I always buy them pre-cooked in a can. Canned beans are great, because they are so damn quick, and don't taste half bad. Patricia Wells, however, made a compelling case for cooking ones garbanzo beans at home. Being the bean lover I am, it didn't take much to convince me to try this.
|From left to right: Parsley, thyme, rosemary, and bay. All from the garden.|
Wells recommends that one cook garbanzo beans in chicken or vegetable stock along with loads of onions, garlic and a bouquet garni of parsley and bay. I added rosemary and thyme because I have them in the garden, and they sounded good. The end result truly was far superior to the canned version. Wells says that you can freeze the beans, in their cooking liquid, for several months. This might be a good solution to keeping garbanzos on hand, ready to use, when I want them.
I did not soak the beans over night as instructed, although I gave them a good rinse. It took about 2 hours of simmering in the broth for the beans to reach a soft perfection.