I recently discovered that Whole Foods is trafficking in underage garbanzo beans: tiny, puffy green pods each containing a fresh bean, maybe two if you're lucky. Smaller than garbanzos sold dried (or dried and canned), these immature little green beans somewhat resemble shelling peas wrinkled from spending too much time in the pool.
I asked around on Twitter for some advice on what to do with them. There was a strong vote for boiling them and salting them as you would edamame. Frying them in a skillet was another option. You could even shell them -- and make a fresh green hummus, for example -- but the thought of removing all those pods, only to birth one bean per pod, seemed like too much labor and not enough return.
I ended up making a great spring appetizer by quickly sauteing the beans in a hot pan (following a simple recipe in New York magazine for chef Josh Dechellis’s "Charred Garbanzos"). Heat a pan over high heat, add some oil and saute the beans, in their pods, for 1-2 minutes or until somewhat charred. Remove from the pan and toss with more olive oil an kosher salt. Eat them as you would edamame, opening the pods and plucking out the beans (easier said than done with these soft little pods), or put nearly the whole thing in your mouth, bite down and use your death teeth to scrape the bean out (easier).
If I can procure some more, I'd like to try boiling or steaming them intact. But note that, according to Derrick Schneider (of An Obsession with Food), they will need to be steamed for at least 15 minutes because of their somewhat impermeable pods.