Cici Beans

Fresh, green chickpeas

by Debbie Peterson

Last week, I had the privilege to go out to eat with my mother at Semolina Restaurant in Red Bank. It’s a fairly new place, having the space that the restaurant Dish used to be in on White Street. I chose it because they are a farm-to-table restaurant. The menu changes often, reflecting what is locally and seasonally available.  And the creations are unique and beautiful. They also make their own pasta (as you would expect by the name), which my mother had and said was absolutely delicious.

Our appetizer was “fresh cici beans” with a sesame dressing, local mizuna, and curry aioli.  I didn’t know what cici beans were, but the description sounded so delicious and I generally like beans, so I was all for it.  What came out was a bowl of what looked like green garbanzo or chickpeas. That made me nervous because I don’t digest garbanzo beans very well (I’m blood type A, which, if you’re interested in that topic, contact us).  But, I was willing to give it a try.  To my surprise, they were not only delicious, but I digested them perfectly fine!

So I looked up cici beans, curious to know if they truly were green garbanzo beans or just a close relative. Turns out, they are green garbanzo beans, picked early when still green and apparently much healthier (and easier to digest)  than their blond version. Other than the Semolina menu, I didn’t find anywhere else calling them “cici,” but I did find the term “ceci.” A google for “cici” just turned up sites for garbanzo beans.

I did find the product on the Nature’s Classic website that claimed they would soon be selling them at Whole Foods. I’ll keep looking because they were delicious and beautiful. This product is frozen, and as they claim are picked fresh, blanched, and flash frozen. I expect to see them more often on menus and in supermarkets–perhaps a new trend coming.  And though I’m not one for trends typically, if they have to do with healthy foods and habits, I’m all for them!

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