CSA: Week ten, bean bungle

First, the goods:

-3 ears corn
-1 cucumber
-1 japanese eggplant
-1 pound….beans
-1 bunch lovely small leeks
-1 enormous heirloom tomato
-1 bunch sage
-1 pound red potatoes

So shortly before I picked up the bag full of goodness, I read that article in the NYTimes food section about slow-cooked green beans. And then I sent it to my mom, who has loads and loads of everything in her garden right now, and she cooked them and e-mailed something like “OMG, those were great,” and when I got the bag of beans I thought “Perfect!!”

Ok, so. I won’t lie, I’m pretty confident in my vegetable-identification skills. I’ve been eating farmer’s market heritage-style vegetables since I was a kid. My mom cooks all SORTS of things that you see on trendy farm-to-table restaurant menus. And yet it didn’t occur to me that the slightly tough-looking bag of beans I’d picked out (I grabbed biggish ones because I was going to slow cook them!) were, um, not string beans. They were….some other sort. Shell beans of some kind. As evidenced by the giant bulges in their sides, I realize as I look at the photos. But being an IDIOT, I didn’t work that out until they started to shell themselves while cooking, when lavender beans started tumbling out like a pinata prize. A starchy pinata prize. But more on that in a moment.

The recipe is a starting point: Basically the idea is to cook beans slowly, in liquid, until they are tender. I caramelized shallots and then used a bit of dry vermouth instead of wine. Again, as I think back I probably should have tried using the recipe (with tomatoes, etc.) the first time, but oh well. I did add water to keep the liquid level up, as she recommends.

That first batch of shallot met a truly tragic fate when I stepped away for, I swear to god, 20 seconds and they burned to a crisp. Dammit.

“Oh Kate, those don’t look so bad! Definitely salvageable!” Yeah, sure. Tell that to the bit I tasted, which I think is STILL stuck in my teeth. (Gross, not really.)

Ok, much better.

I don’t have photos of the intermediate steps, because I panicked. The pods started opening up and revealing those gorgeous purple beans inside and I didn’t know what to do, so I cooked the whole mess until the beans were at least edible. Maybe not quite how I’d have cooked them if I had realized in advance, but not so startchy they couldn’t be choked down.

And they looked lovely (the chicken was leftover; I sliced it and tossed it with the beans to warm it up):

And as a matter of fact the pods were awfully tasty–do you usually throw away the pod from shell beans? Are these even shell beans? Mom or Germi, can you help me out here?

We also had that One Pound Monster of a tomato in a very simple salad:

(I don’t believe in mucking around with a tomato that lovely–a drizzle of sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, and some basil.)

Those beans really were tender and delicious, in the end. I can’t wait to try again with actual green beans. And next time I luck into shell beans I want to make bruschetta!

2 thoughts on “CSA: Week ten, bean bungle”

  1. Those were shell beans and I love them. I’ve never cooked the pods so I will definitely try that. How long before they were tender?
    As for the lovely fresh shell beans, I made a simple gratin out of them last week and we licked the dish clean. Cook the shell beans until tender in water on a slow simmer, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, sweat an onion, minced garlic and a few chopped sage leaves until tender. Then I threw in a handful of kale leaves cut into strips and a chopped-up tomato. When the tomatoes start giving up their liquid – 5 minutes tops – add the strained beans (save the bean liquid!). Dump into a gratin dish, season generously with salt and pepper, pour in enough bean liquid to barely come up to the top and top with oiled bread crumbs. Drizzle with a string of olive oil and bake at 375 until crumbs are crispy and every thing else is pipping hot. Yum.
    I am growing these next year because they cost the earth at the Farmers’ Market – why is that? Not much of a demand?

  2. First, I must say that I love the query “Mom or Germi, can you help me out here?” – I am in really good company here!

    The first thing I thought of when I read this post was a dish I always get at a local Chinese restaurant, which looks for all the world like green beans, but are slightly chewier and incredibly tasty – they are called ‘kidney beans’ on the menu … but I never knew what they really were.
    But maybe they ARE kidney beans, just not shelled!
    I took a quick look through some recipe databases, and saw what looks like some yummy recipes for braised shell beans – so I think you stumbled upon a great new way to eat beans!
    Leave it to you, Kate!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *