This week I’m not really sure what to be more excited about… as a local, seasonal eater the return of tomato season is always a joy, but for me that’s possibly overshadowed by the fact that this week we’ve been able to source genuine Tasmanian chick peas – and even better, there’s enough that we’ve been able to include them in all $30 and $40 boxes and will even be able to offer them as an optional add-on for October! Like many discoveries, this was one of serendipity; when I had to find some Tasmanian walnuts last week at the last minute, I discovered that Natures Works – a Tasmanian owned and operated company – stocks walnuts from Websters’ (huge) Tasmanian walnut groves on the East coast. I made some enquiries about whether they stocked anything else Tasmanian and lo and behold – chick peas and lentils! Like most claims of provenance, I like to chase them back to the source (there can be some tricksy usage of the word “Tasmanian” in the retail sector), and I’ve been able to confirm that they were definitely grown as a rotational crop by a large scale pyrethrum (natural insecticide) grower in the north of the state, and they were even processed by a local cleaning plant. Needless to say, I’m already working on ensuring we can maintain supply of these – and hopefully other dried legumes – as they’re so versatile, nutritious and are great in the leaner months of the seasonal eating calendar!
If you haven’t cooked with dried legumes before, don’t forget to soak them before you cook them, preferably at least overnight, and with plenty of water. They’ll still need a degree of cooking after the soaking (at least compared to the pre-cooked tinned ones), but my favourite thing to do with soaked chick peas is to make felafel! Simply take the soaked chick peas, put them in the food processor with onion, salt and your choice of appropriate herbs and spices (mint, coriander and parsley are good fresh herb options), and then form into balls and deep-fry. You’ll need a reasonably dry mix so they hold together – if the mix comes out a little wet, stir in besan flour (which is made from chick peas) to thicken it up.