On productivity: pois chiches

chick peas 2

Yesterday my neighbor came over with what appeared to be a dead bunch of flowers. What is this man trying to tell me?, I thought.

They turned out to be chick peas (pois chiches, in French, which sounds so much more appetizing to me), fresh in their little pods.

Tito’s sister and I picked some up at the Phinney Ridge farmer’s market and she sat at the counter in the sun, pulling the firm, swollen peas out of their fuzzy little shells.

Raw chick pea in shell

Half an hour later, we had a cup of chick peas. One cup. We agreed that it was sort of disappointing, but also impressive that this giant bundle of vegetation could produce just a handful of something edible.

Since I’d never purchased them fresh, I turned to my vegetable bible, Chez Panisse Vegetables, for cooking guidance. Alice had plenty to say on cooking dried chick peas (and mentioned that it would be crazy to try to grow them yourself if you wanted to make an actual meal out of them), but no real guidelines for cooking them fresh.

Into a pot they went, and out they came, a mere 20 minutes later, plump with way more earthy flavor than the canned kind, with a sort of potato-ish consistency that made Heather wonder how they’d be mashed up with butter and cream.

It was a lot of work for a little bowl of peas, but somehow entirely satisfying. My husband came home just as we were about to eat them, and we all stood there on the porch, taking turns scooping different shades of yellow and green into our mouths from the same bowl.

Tito was quiet as we sipped our coffee on the porch this morning.

“Do you think we’re too obsessed with productivity?” he asked.

You know, us. You and me. Humans today in general.

Why do we measure the value of something by how much gets done?, he wondered.

Each day, we ask each other the same question: How was your day? The answer invariably comes in the form of a report on what got done, followed by what various factors got in the way of getting even more done. We rarely relish the not getting done.

We’ve made a note to work on it. Like the chick peas, maybe we’d be happier and more balanced if we were productive in smaller quantities.

We hope soon it’ll go like this on some days:

HIM: Hi, honey. How was your day?

ME: Fabulous. I helped a friend make a decision. I watered the plants and watched the water drip down their leaves. I sat, enjoying.

If you see fresh chick peas, buy some. Sit in the sun, shelling them. And enjoy them slowly.

Chick pea salad

Recipe 197 of 365: Fresh Chick Peas with Lemon and Chives

Place 1 cup fresh shelled chick peas in a small saucepan and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then simmer until chick peas are soft, about 20 minutes. Drain in a colander, discard any skins that come off easily, and transfer the peas to a bowl. Season with salt, pepper, a big squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, and chopped fresh chives. Serve warm.



Filed under farmer's market, recipe, salad, vegetables

8 responses to “On productivity: pois chiches

  1. THAT’S what those things were! As my husband and I were waiting to buy cheese at the stand next door we were eying the bunches. There wasn’t a sign and the owner wasn’t around (or perhaps he/she was helping another customer). Thank you for solving the mystery!

  2. Friday night I just made use of some of these myself, picked up at one of the Pike Place Market stalls… I managed to get about a half cup out of my bunch, but I tried not to think too much about how long it was taking. I made some chappati and a variation of Indira’s green chickpeas with paneer, sesame and ginger…


    (no picture on my blog, since mine wasn’t that different and I was impatient and wanted to eat).

    Although I’m certainly not one to rush preparation of food, I’m not sure I’ll look forward to shelling those chickpeas again.

  3. I wonder if there’s a way to tell how much you’ll get out of a bunch? Some of my pods were empty. . .

  4. I had the same problem… there were little proto-chickpeas in the “empty” pods but barely enough to qualify as a lentil. I imagine that machine-shelled chickpeas also machine-sort the results so that we never see those.

  5. Rachel H.

    Thanks for the picture. I had no idea what chick peas looked like on the plant. Is the raw texture like that of other peas (I’m imagining like fresh shelled English peas?) or hard enough that you have to cook them to eat them?

  6. R – yeah, the raw texture was a little dry and slightly crunchy. I can imagine that they’d soften if you pickled them raw (an idea!), and my neighbor did eat his raw, but I much prefer the softer cooked texture.

  7. jaimi

    i just shelled a $10 bag of these from the santa monica farmers market. they were in a big plastic baggie and took me about an hour to shell. in the end, i’d say i got about 2 1/2 cups of chickpeas. i’m cooking them now, per your recipe (as i eat the leftover gnocchi with morels i made the other day from your recipe. i added a huge handful of frozen peas to the gnocchi pot as they cooked. yum). i’m still loving these recipes, slowly going through the 365 as we make our way through the seasonal produce yet again. thanks…still.

  8. Thanks for cooking, Jaimi!

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