Green Chickpeas – Everything You Need To Know

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We all know that eating more legumes, such as peas, beans, and lentils, is a great way to get more healthy protein into our diets.

Chickpeas are one of the most popular kinds in the modern-day diet and are enjoyed all around the world.

But what are green chickpeas? Green chickpeas are the same type of chickpea as the dried and canned versions but are harvested before the chickpeas start to dry in their pods. This means that they are fresh, green, and packed full of nutritional benefits. Green chickpeas are quick to cook and can be eaten in their pods or shelled like green peas.

We think that green chickpeas are one of the most underrated cooking ingredients out there, and today we’re going to cover everything about this delicious and nutritious addition to our range of pulses!

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about green chickpeas and how to eat them!

What Are Chickpeas?

We’re not going to get too tangled up in terminology here, but chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans. So, what are they: peas or beans?

Peas and beans both come under a wider category of foods known as legumes, or pulses. The word legume is used to classify the plants, and pulses are the seeds of these plants in their dried or edible form.

Also in this group are lentils, soybeans, peanuts, and common plants such as clover and alfalfa.

These days we are all encouraged to include more pulses in our diets. They are a great source of protein and have many nutritional benefits.

Legumes are also great plants to grow for their environmental benefits, playing a key role in fixing nitrogen into poor and depleted soil.

When it comes to the question of whether chickpeas are peas or beans, the answer is that they are neither of these! The chickpea is actually a legume category all of its own, as botanically they are neither pea nor bean

When it comes to the question of whether chickpeas are peas or beans, the answer is that they are neither of these! The chickpea is actually a legume category all of its own, as botanically they are neither pea nor bean. 

The chickpea plant grows to around 18 inches tall and has 1” long pods that each contain one or two cream-colored seeds that are around the same size as a pea.

These are the edible part of the plant and are removed from the pods to be processed.

The normal process for harvesting chickpeas is to wait until the pods have turned brown and started to wither and split. At this point, the chickpeas are fully mature and perfect for either drying or canning.

Fans of chickpeas love their delicate nutty flavor and crunchy yet soft texture. They can be eaten whole in a huge variety of dishes, and are very popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Chickpeas can also be crushed or pureed to make popular dishes such as houmous and falafel.

Chickpeas can also be ground into flour, known as gram flour. This gluten-free flour is high in protein and is popular in Caribbean and Indian cookery.

What Are Green Chickpeas?

Most of us are familiar with the normal creamy-white chickpeas, so where do green chickpeas come into it?

Green chickpeas come from the same variety of plants as the dried and canned chickpeas but are harvested much earlier. The pods are picked before they start to turn brown.

Green chickpeas come from the same variety of plants as the dried and canned chickpeas but are harvested much earlier. The pods are picked before they start to turn brown, and the chickpeas inside still have a bright green color.

They can be purchased both fresh and frozen, although you are more likely to come across the latter in your grocery store.

The exciting thing about green chickpeas is that their pods are also edible! Some people like to harvest them while the chickpeas are still small and eat them like a sugar snap pea.

The pod does have an unusual fuzzy texture, but the flavor is incredibly fresh and delicious.

How Are Green Chickpeas Different From Other Chickpeas?

As we have already established, all the types of chickpeas you see at the store come from the same family of plants. The only difference is the point at which they are harvested.

The canned and dried chickpeas we have all been using for years have been left to mature on the plant, and are a creamy-white color.

At this stage, they are fully developed seeds and can be stored for a long period of time without any deterioration.

If you’re a bit confused about the difference between canned and dried chickpeas, this is the difference.

Dried chickpeas are harvested and left to dry until there is no moisture left in them at all. When it comes to eating them, they first need to be soaked and then cooked.

Canned chickpeas are slightly easier to prepare, as they have been precooked before canning. This means that you can add them straight to your dish, without any lengthy soaking and cooking process.

But when it comes to green chickpeas, these are the speediest of all! They have not been dried and are already more tender than their mature counterparts, so they can be cooked very quickly

What Do Green Chickpeas Taste Like?

Green chickpeas have a lovely, delicate flavor, and they are a nice fresh alternative to canned or dried chickpeas.

The best way to describe the flavor of green chickpeas would be to compare them to other types of fresh peas and beans. They are the same size as a green pea but have a firmer texture.

The flavor of a green chickpea is earthy and nutty, very much like the canned version but with a fresher taste. The texture is slightly grainy and not as smooth as other beans such as butter beans.

What Are Green Chickpeas Used For? And How Are They Prepared?

Green chickpeas can be eaten raw, but we wouldn’t recommend it. A raw green chickpea will be slightly tough, but it only takes a few minutes of cooking to turn them into something delicious.

Green chickpeas are a lovely addition to many recipes. If you have a favorite dish that contains dried or canned chickpeas, you can use green chickpeas as a tasty and nutritious substitution.

These flavor-filled green balls are a refreshing addition to a zingy summer salad and taste great when added to fresh green soups and spicy stir-fries.

Once cooked, they can be eaten hot or cold, and the robust flavor stands up well to many different spices and marinades.

If you’ve got a bag of shelled green chickpeas from the freezer section at the store, these will just need to be boiled or pan-fried for a couple of minutes to turn them perfectly tender. The same applies to freshly shelled chickpeas.

If you’re lucky enough to have found some chickpeas in their pods, this opens up a whole range of new ways to prepare them! You could spend hours shelling the chickpeas from each individual pod, but why not try eating the pods as well?

A whole chickpea pod makes a delicious snack on its own, or you can lightly chargrill them to intensify the flavor.

Simply toss them into a piping hot skillet for a couple of minutes, then add a sprinkle of salt. A healthy movie night snack to replace those additive-laden crisps!

What Other Foods Go Well With Green Chickpeas?

The bold and fresh flavor of green chickpeas makes them the perfect partner for punchy vegetables such as asparagus, garlic, leek, onion, kale, and spinach.

Their flavor will be enhanced with acidic marinades such as lemon juice and white wine vinegar, and they stand up well to robust herbs like mint, thyme, dill, and rosemary.

If you’re in the mood for something a bit more exotic, try pairing your green chickpeas with olives and a twist of black pepper. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and you’ve got a great little tapas dish!

Green chickpeas are also nutty and hearty enough to add to warming curries and winter casseroles, but also fresh enough to be part of a light summer salad.

Here are some great ways to use green chickpeas in your everyday cooking:

Green Chickpea Pasta

Add your green chickpeas to a creamy mushroom sauce and stir in some cooked pasta for a filling and nutritious midweek dinner.

If you’ve got hungry carnivores in your family, spicy sausage and green chickpea pasta is a great idea too!

Green Chickpea Paella

Don’t be daunted by paella, it is surprisingly easy to make! By using green chickpeas you can make a great vegetarian version, packed full of protein and delicious flavor.

Spanish Potatoes With Chorizo And Green Chickpeas

Keeping it in the Mediterranean, the nutty flavor of green chickpeas is the perfect partner for smokey chorizo and crispy potatoes.

Green Chickpea And Halloumi Salad

You know how some salads just don’t seem to give you that deliciously full feeling? Well, add in some griddled halloumi and green chickpeas and you certainly won’t go hungry!

Green Chickpea Fritters

Blend cooked green chickpeas with flour, egg, and season well. Form this mixture into patties and gently fry or griddle until golden brown.

Serve with flatbreads and beetroot houmous for a healthy and nutritious midweek dinner, full of vibrant color!

Are Green Chickpeas Good For You?

So we all know that chickpeas are healthy, but are do green chickpeas have many benefits over their canned or dried counterparts?

All forms of chickpea are packed full of protein. These make them a great alternative to meat and dairy if you are following a plant-based diet.

But green chickpeas also have some other nutritional benefits that their grown-up relatives are lacking.

Green chickpeas are eaten fresh. They are either purchased fresh in their pods at the store, or as frozen green chickpeas.

Although you might think that the frozen version would be less nutritious, they are picked and frozen quickly to preserve their vital nutrients.

This flash freezing process locks in flavor and ensures the green chickpeas are preserved before their nutrients start to wane.

A bag of frozen chickpeas is full of protein, fiber, and antioxidants, as well as key nutrients that can help to keep us healthy.

Here are just a few things that green chickpeas have to offer in terms of nutritional benefits:

  • Help to regulate blood sugar and support healthy digestion
  • A good source of amino acids
  • Help to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, reducing the risk of heart disease
  • Low in sodium and fat, high in protein
  • A good source of iron and calcium

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over all you need to know about green chickpeas, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

Can you eat chickpea greens?

Well, it turns out that chickpeas are a bit of a superfood! Not only can we eat the chickpeas while they are still green, pods and all, but we can also eat some parts of the plant as well.

The young, fresh leaves of the chickpea plant are completely edible and can be eaten either raw or cooked. They taste great in a salad or can be added to stir-fries or other lightly-cooked dishes.

The other edible part of the chickpea plant is the growing tips; these are often pinched out to encourage the plant to send out new side shoots.

These tips can be lightly steamed or boiled for a couple of minutes, then tossed in extra virgin olive oil. Add a sprinkling of salt and a dash of lemon juice and you’ve got a zingy and refreshing side dish that is ready in minutes!

How do you store green chickpeas?

If you’ve bought frozen chickpeas from the store, keeping them in good condition is pretty easy. All you need to do is pop the bag into the freezer, and make sure that they get eaten before the best-before date.

Once the bag has been opened, you will need to make sure that you seal it closed or transfer the contents to a Ziplock bag.

Fresh green chickpeas are a bit trickier, as they need to be eaten as soon as possible to preserve their nutritional value.

If they are in pods, leave them in their pods until you want to use them. Ideally, they should be eaten within a couple of days of harvest to be at their absolute best.

If you are not going to be able to eat your green chickpeas in a short space of time, they can be blanched in boiling water and then frozen. When preserved in this way they will remain good to eat for up to 8 months.

Can you puree green chickpeas?

Green chickpeas are a very versatile ingredient and can be pureed very easily. It is a good idea to boil or steam them for a few minutes beforehand, as otherwise, they can be slightly tough.

To make your green chickpea puree special, sauté some onions and garlic in butter before adding the cooked green chickpeas and a splash of chicken stock.

This mixture is then blitzed in a food processor until it is silky smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl a few times to make sure it is evenly pureed.

This delicious green chickpea puree is the perfect accompaniment to delicate baked fish or drizzled over a pan-fried chicken breast.

It can also be served as a dip with an assortment of crudites or turned into a salad dressing with the addition of lemon juice and olive oil.

If you’re interested in learning more about these little chickpeas, here’s a helpful video covering how to cook them!

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