I’ve tried many new food items since becoming vegan: things I never thought I would eat much less like. Things like pressed fermented tofu and seed cake, though seven-grain tempeh sounds more appetizing; and then there are all the beans. My pre-vegan repertoire consisted of black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, and the occasional lentil. My post-vegan pantry has expanded to include all of those plus cranberry beans, anasazi beans, black, green, red, and black lentils, yellow and green split peas, Christmas lima beans, and so many more. Some of the tastiest and most versatile beans I use are garbanzo beans, aka chickpeas. They make excellent crispy snacks if marinated and oven-baked, star in chickenless salad, chickpea and noodle soup, and not-tuna salad.
My enthusiasm for new and interesting beans may have gone too far. I was at an Asian market (since become a diner so I need a new source for black salt) and was going nuts at the prices of bulk lentils, spices, black salt, and green garbanzo beans. The friend I was shopping with said, “um…green garbanzo beans?” “Yep”, I replied; “aren’t they cool?” My friend looked like ‘cool’ wasn’t the first word that occurred to her but she made no other protest and a bag of green garbanzo beans accompanied me home.
As summer takes over in Colorado I eat more salads and, at long last, the time came for me to soak and cook the green garbanzo beans in order to make not-tuna salad. I admit, a lessons I’ve learned from previous cooking experience sprang to mind as I prepared the beans. Lesson one: soup mixes comprised of multiple beans and/or grains look pretty until they’re cooked. Then, black beans or black rice color EVERYTHING else in the mix and the entire lot turns brown. What would cooked green beans look like? However, I’d purchased the beans and was committed. How bad could it be?
Well…cooked and mashed green garbanzo beans are no longer green. “Unappetizing” and other, stronger, words came to mind but I’m anything if not wasteful. I mashed my beans, stirred in Just Mayo, mustard, chopped green olives, chopped celery, and 1/4 a sheet of nori, snipped into teeny pieces. I was going to eat it no matter how it looked.
While the salad looked nasty; once I spooned it over a bed of red leaf lettuce and covered it with sliced Easter egg radishes, appearance was no longer an issue.
Taste was no issue at all. There is no substitute for soaking and cooking my own beans. Taste, texture, cost…there is no comparison, although I admit I use canned beans because they’re convenient. The beans in my salad were smooth and creamy, which bore no resemblance to actual tuna salad but, this far into my vegan diet; that isn’t a bad thing. The salad is filling, tasty, and easy to eat at my desk at work. And, the green garbanzo beans? I think that all future recipes will keep them whole rather than mashed.