A unique Italian legume. This Ark of Taste heirloom produces angular beans like a cross between lentils and chickpeas. Plants grow into 3-4’ vines that need staking but little else. 90 days. Lane Selman, founder of the Culinary Breeding Network (CBN), loves a good seed hunt! One of her favorite things to do before embarking on an international trip is ask seed grower friends what they would like her to try to find and bring back for them.
The background story: these beans were obtained from a grower who was attending the international Slow Food Terra Madre event and brought them home for Brian Campbell of Uprising Seeds, who is bean obsessed and is especially interested in heirloom Italian beans. This unusual legume is believed to be among the first cultivated food plants, predating even grain-based agriculture. Once a common peasant food in Central Italy, Cicerchia had fallen off the map a bit until interest was recently revived by Slow Food Italy and a presidium dedicated to its revival. Also known as Chickling Vetch, Grass Pea, Khesari, and Almorta, the legume has played an important role in the diets of drought prone regions of the Mediterranean, East Africa, and India for centuries as an “insurance crop” due to its extreme drought tolerance. Cicerchia is delicious, sometimes described as a cross between lentils and chickpeas, hearty and earthy and with tender skin. These beans look like angular little, white, pebbles.
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