A rustic Italian-bred legume with an unusual, almost tooth-like shape, prized in Italy for its rich flavor.
In the 1980s, Steve lived in Italy and loved these odd, garbanzo-like legumes. He never could remember what they were called, and when he’d ask his Italian friends about them, he’d describe them as old, wrinkled teeth. “Oh! Cicerchie!” The inspiration for these was from nostalgia, but after cooking them, we all agreed they are well worth revisiting. It turns out that they are not so obscure with Italian cooks, and smart chefs stateside love them, as well.
April Bloomfield described them in the Los Angeles Times a few years ago: “Once they are cooked, they taste like a pea crossed with a chickpea. Even though they are dry, they have a certain freshness.”
Pluralization of Italian words can be confusing. Singular is cicerchia and plural is cicerchie, much like singular is biscotto and the plural is biscotti. You’d pronounce them "chee-CHAIR- key-ah."
There is some concern about the toxicity of cicerchie. Diets of large amounts and little else will be unhealthy over time. The same is true of fava beans and polenta, by the way. Eat a varied, nutritious diet and you will be happy and healthy. Do not eat nothing but cicerchie for months on end.
From the Rancho Gordo Kitchen
Chickling Pea, Chickling Vetch, or Grass Pea
Country of origin