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I L O V E garbanzo beans. That may seem a bit effusive for a bean, but if I were given a choice between salsa or hummus to eat on some chips, I’d choose the hummus (not to be confused with humus which is the dark stuff that didn’t quite decay in your garden). In fact as toppings or dips go, I rank it only slightly lower than apple butter, and way above just about anything else.

Garbanzos are also known as chick peas (as if baby chicks produced them—gross!), but I prefer the name garbanzo (once I got my “a’s” and “o” in the right place). It just sounds more adventurous: Like something I might shout before jumping off a bridge into a river. Or the name of a magician who had a side show at the circus: “The Great Garbanzo.”

Middle Eastern cuisine enjoys their garbanzos. This last weekend I made a slow cooker chicken stew with garbanzos and spices that included ginger, paprika and cinnamon. Yum! (Plus the house smelled amazing as my neighbor commented when she dropped by.) And of course, the middle-eastern peoples love their hummus.
Note: If you don’t have tahini on hand (traditional), I have substituted almond butter and it tastes great. I also like to add blended sundried tomatoes or serve the hummus with a touch of green pesto.

Do an internet recipe search, but think beyond 3-bean salad. And try quick pita filling of mashed garbanzos, mayo, pickle relish, minced onions, or whatever else you want to add: celery, lemon juice, dill. Serve with sprouts and tomato.

There are tons of recipes on the internet. You can find garbanzos in curries, soups, and salads. I enjoy them in a miso pesto over pasta (recipe below). And here’s a recipe for a Chickpea and Sundried Tomato dip I’m going to try.

Garbanzos are said to be less “windy” than other legumes. (Okay, I laughed at that, but you know what they mean.) They contain zinc, folate and dietary phosphous (which I have never heard of—but I assure you nobody has started to glow yet from eating them). They are high in fiber, making them a healthy source of carbohydrates for persons with insulin sensitivity or diabetes. Low in fat, they also help lower cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Mostly, garbanzo beans taste good.

Be adventurous—jump off of the plateau of spaghetti and meatloaf dinners—and try something new this week. Serve your family garbanzo beans. (But be sure to say them with a ringing accent on the second syllable and excitement in your eyes.)

Pasta and Garbanzo Beans with Miso* Pesto
Cook 10 oz. of whole grain spaghetti or fettucini.
Meanwhile, blend:
½ C. walnuts
3-4 cloves garlic
2 oz. fresh basil (1-1½ C., packed)
½ C. water
2 T. yellow miso
Dump 2 C. cooked garbanzos into a colander and pour hot, perfectly cooked, whole grain pasta over them. Add the pesto and toss well. Pour into a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan cheese. This is such a favorite that in the winter I have substituted dried basil, but it’s hard to beat fresh.

*BTW, don’t be afraid of miso—I’ll tell more about it next week so you can go ahead and buy some.

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