Friday, April 8, 2011

Garbanzo Beans, Grits & Collard Greens

Today's message is brought to you by the letter G. I'm going to share with you some of the foods I enjoy that begin with the letter G and offer suggestions when I can.

First, there are Garbanzo Beans, also known as Chickpeas. I've eaten them in three-bean salads before and always thought they looked too much like hominy. Although I'd eat them in the salad setting, I could never imagine any other thing that garbanzos would ever be used for. I was wrong.

When we decided to try a new Indian restaurant near us last year, they offered to exchange the Dal (lentils, which I didn't like) for Chana Masala (which is garbanzo beans in a sweet and spicy tomato-based sauce and sometimes called Chole). I really liked them!! After that, I tried an appetizer they offered called Chana Puri (chana masala with a puffed bread). OMG - I was in love! I have had it several times since then. My gentleman friend's brother has recreated the recipe himself more than once and I've eaten it with Basmati rice as a complete meal. I describe it as being like BBQed chickpeas. That's the kind of consistency and flavor the recipe reminds me of. I'd challenge anyone to try it who likes sweet and spicy. 

Chole -Wikimedia Commons: user Deepak

Since I already mentioned Hominy, that leads me to Grits, which for years and years (dare I say decades) I have avoided passionately. My mother liked them, but I wouldn't touch them. I didn't like corn bread because of the "gritty" factor. I couldn't imagine a hot cereal being worthy of eating that contained that same ingredient. I liked Cream of Wheat and Oatmeal, but Grits?? Yeah, thanks, but no thanks.

My staunch refusal to even try it continued until a road trip to Savannah. We stopped in a Waffle House and they offered Grits. I watched people around us being served grits and suddenly had a craving for this hot cereal that had never before passed my lips. I politely asked (my South Jersey accent a dead giveaway to my non-resident status) how they were to be eaten, explaining that my mother had enjoyed them, but I had never tried them. I was told that I was free to eat them in whatever manner worked for me. Since I was raised to eat hot cereal with butter and sugar, I decided to try grits using the same method. Well, I've been eating them ever since whenever I can find them on the menu. I still can't do Hush Puppies, though. 

Grits w/butter - Wikimedia Commons under Creative Common

Finally, I have long not been a fan of spinach. I ate it as a child, especially if we were having spinach shortly after I had watched Popeye on TV. I thought if it worked for him, it would certainly work for me. Don't laugh - it got me to eat it!!  Then I got married and my husband LOVED spinach beyond anything I'd ever seen. I learned to eat it and accept it, but it still wasn't my favorite veggie. 

After my divorce, I wouldn't bring spinach into the house. I didn't want it, although my kids liked it (and still do). The few times we got to go out to eat to Golden Corral, they would both dive into the spinach on the buffet tables, which was fine with me.

But, a few years back, I went with my gentleman friend to a local Southern Style/Soul Food restaurant and discovered Collard Greens. They look a lot like spinach, but they put spinach to shame! She cooks her greens with smoked turkey, but I've also had them with the traditional ham and, seriously, they are good! Every time we go there, Greens are one of the sides I choose. I've recently tried Turnip Greens and, while better than spinach and cooked a lot like Collards, I believe I like the Collards best of the three. I would tell anyone who wants to try them who already likes spinach, but who would prefer less bitterness, to try them. They do not have that bitter taste that spinach seems to happy to have. It's possible that using a smoked meat with spinach could go a long way, but I think the bitterness would still be noticeable (except baby spinach, which I've decided I like in salad). Regardless, I really do enjoy eating collards as long as they're using real smoked meat and not liquid smoke. The one time I had that it tasted like someone had dumped their ashtray into the mix. I'd prefer not to relive that experience.

Collard greens with yams, chicken and mac-n-cheese. All good eats!! -Wikimedia Commons by user Crownjewel82.

I hope that this has helped you in some way lower your hesitancy to try any one of these things. Seriously, I've wasted a lot of time missing out on foods I could have enjoyed years earlier! (Although, I draw the line at anything with suckers.)


  1. I love love love chick peas! They are the heartiest beans out there in my opinion. So filling and delicious. You've inspired me to make chickpea curry this weekend.

  2. Some of my favorites! And I wrote about GRITS today too, but with a different slant. ;-)

  3. The only thing on your list that I will eat are the two that you won't - corn bread and hush puppies.

  4. My daughter has a really terrific cookie recipe--chocolate chip and...garbanzo beans. I know, sounds gross, right? But they're really delicious. The recipe is in that cookbook that Jerry Seinfeld's wife wrote.

    My “G” post is right here:

  5. I've never had chick peas. I love grits. I do NOT like collard greens, and I love spinach. By the way I think Seinfeld's wife's books is called, "Deceptively Delicious." If you would like to read my latest post for the A-Z Challenge, just click and look at the top blog.