Could the green chickpea pique consumer curiosity?

A new salad in Waitrose introduces the bean as it grows in popularity in America.

16 May 2018

Everyone is familiar with white chickpeas. They help to make Brit’s most loved dip – hummus – and their water can even be used to create vegan mayonnaise.

But have you heard of the green chickpea?

They are the raw, unprocessed version of the chickpea, picked early on.

And Waitrose reckons the green chickpea is part of the latest foodie trend – particularly over in America – and have used them in a salad as part of a new range.

The new addition is a green and white chickpea and bean salad, with a basil yogurt dressing. 

The use of green chickpeas, which are also known as garbanzo beans in America, are a UK supermarket first, according to Waitrose.

The range also welcomes nut butter into its salad dressings – a trend Waitrose has seen a surge in recently, with a rise in the popularity of nut spreads, which is why the supermarket has included it in its vegan spiced rice, yellow split pea and pistachio salad, and cashew nut and cardamom butter.

But what about these green garbanzo beans?

Chickpea consumption

Americans like their chickpeas. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, the average American ate 1.85lbs of chickpeas in 2017 – a 50% jump on the year before.

In the past 10 years, domestic demand for chickpeas in the US went from 47,000 tonnes to nearly 200,000. That’s a lot of beans.

Chickpea consumption has been boosted by growing demand for gluten-free products and a trend toward “more healthful and varied snacking,” the US Department of Agriculture said. Salads are a key part of this, but hummus, flour and flavoured snacks also play a role.

Over in the States, the green garbanzo beans are sold in Trader Joe’s and Costco, but they seem harder to come by in the UK.

Chef Jill Davie, who works at LA restaurant Josie and has been a prominent guest chef on several Food Network shows, has created a number of recipes for the green garbanzo bean. These include guacamole, green chickpea and tomato bruschetta, grilled octopus and spicy chickpeas with coriander, as well as green garbanzo stews and burger patties.

The beans can also be used to create a pesto, tossed into rice pilaf, pureed for soups and canapes, as well as used in sauces.

International item

So are more greens good for the health?

It’s claimed that the beans have higher nutritional values than the white variety with more protein, folate and fibre. The green chickpeas have a similar flavour to fresh peas and are more nutty or buttery compared to the dried variety – particularly as the natural sugars haven’t turned to starch.

It seems the green chickpea is not just an American thing either.

In Mexico, they’re eaten raw or steamed still in the pod, like edamame, and served with lime, chili and salt. In India, the fresh chickpeas are simmered in curry dishes such as chana masala.

Will Sparkie soon be grazing on some green chickpeas?


Sparkie says:

Having a look around, green chickpeas seem to be a novelty really.

They do offer some interesting health statistics but are supposedly fairly bland and boring on their own as they don’t have the concentration of flavour that the processing brings to the regular version.

The lower shelf life, difficulty in procurement and difficulty in processing likely add up to it not being a worthwhile investment for most retailers.

The higher end like Waitrose do like novelty vegetables that they can sell at a premium, so they might do well in that environment with some creative products to improve on the flavour.

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