Salad: Raw Chickpea and Farro Salad

April 02, 2024

Salad: Raw Chickpea and Farro Salad

WAS THIS WORTH IT? My husband and I asked each other the same thing. It was our first year after getting married and I was ambitiously trying to cook all of our favorite Indian recipes. While grocery shopping on Devon Ave., known as 'Little India' in Chicago on the city's north side, we spotted small, fresh chickpea pods. Mind you, I'd never seen them outside of India, so the moment I spotted them I had to have them. What are you going to do with that? My husband was suspicious. We are going to peel them and make a sabzi out of them. So we got the bag home and got to peeling and peeling and peeling and peeling. I'd only really eaten them in India off of vendor's carts. They would sell long strands of them still clinging to young, thin vines that we could pluck off ourselves and gobble up as kids. We realized that there were more husks than there ever would be chickpeas. The small, green, fresh chickpeas were sweet and delicious, but one handful and our entire evening's worth of effort evaporated in one bite. We still get a laugh out of that story. And while you may not have a huge amount of chickpeas from your efforts, it's still a delicious snack worth trying. 

I found these tiny really good for my girls when they were little. I would give them a pile and it would keep them busy. They would happily sit in their car seats, squeeze the chickpeas out of their pods, and promptly pop them in their mouths. It would take them time and concentration - perfect as I scrambled frantically. We kept buying those chickpeas and I since started sprinkling them into salads and even made hummus out of them. But, it had been awhile. So, when I noticed them in the market the other day, I picked up a bag. And, when my now nineteen-year-old saw it her immediate comment was, oh my gosh. I love those things. And while I love that she loves good food and unique ingredients, what I love most is that she knows where her food comes from. 

I was once doing a live TV cooking demo and as we were getting ready to go on air, the reporter asked me about chickpeas. I told her that I cooked them from dried, that they grew in pods and were legumes and on and on. She looked perplexed. You mean they don't come from a can? It too me a moment. Apparently, she'd only been exposed to chickpeas at the salad bar, where she saw chickpeas being added from large cans. I explained that the canned chickpeas are actually cooked from dried chickpeas. And that it's a plant - a bean - a legume - that grows in a pod. It's moments like these that really tell me how important it is to talk about the sources of food, especially legumes. In India it's taken for granted - the crop, the fields, the plants are everywhere. In the West not so much. It's just about exposure. Like when I was an agricultural reporter on a farm in Iowa and I told the soybean farmer I was interviewing that in Japan they ate soybeans boiled in the pod with a little salt on them. He could not comprehend that humans would eat what he'd been growing to feed cattle. I always says - it's about perspective. 

This batch of beautifully lime-green sweet nuggets ended up in my farro salad. I just cooked up a cup of farro, added some onion and bell pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. I topped it with my fresh chickpeas and some scallions and parsley. For a proper recipe for my warm farro salad and tips on cooking this grain, click here. Take a look around at your local specialty markets. You'll likely find fresh chickpeas and now you know what to do with them. I'll have more ideas soon on how to boil and salt them, char them, and even use them in your hummus. And yes, it's worth it! xoxo Anupy



 




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