Fresh garbanzo beans are cheaper than fava beans, and they demonstrate in a nutshell (pod?) the “better vegetables through outer boroughs” principle of produce. It may hardly be news, but more than a pound of still-in-shell chickpeas was found yesterday for $1.99 at Brooklyn’s Three Guys, a 24/7 discount greens place on the corner of 65th and Fort Hamilton Parkway. Shopping-wise, you may get pushed out of the way by a cart wielding nonna gunning for the greengage plums, or distracted by a cross-dressing man calmly sorting through the melons.
Nonetheless, some of the best vegetable oddities—but moreover, the most affordable produce—can be found where ethnically disparate neighborhoods intersect: Three Guys draws visitors from Brooklyn’s Chinatown, Bensonhurst, and Boro Park, for example. Fresh chickpeas are used in Indian cooking, or sometimes in Mexican dishes, and also in hummus. Like green almonds, even in the fridge they’ll dry out quickly over the course of a week if they’re not used. The upside is that you can use them like peas, or otherwise more pricey springtime legumes. The pod itself is not edible, but toss a bowl of the small green escape pods in oil with coarse salt, pour them in a scalding hot frying pan, and blister for one minute. Pop them like edamame—fresh chickpeas have a kind of complex, addictive flavor.
Even with the $4 round-trip to the Fort Hamilton Parkway N stop, you can still load up on groceries for less money than a typical Whole Foods jaunt. Consider this a recession PSA.