Tuesday, September 14, 2010

with shoes on

Shell beans

Shelled beans

There are a lot of bean varieties that look like this: dragon's tongue, cranberry, borlotti.  Up here they just sell them as "shell beans," and I don't know anything more than that.

Cooked, they lose those speckles and become uniformly ivory.  The texture is creamy, which is perfect for minestrone, for instance.  A little large for chili, maybe, which doesn't stop me - until I discovered Rancho Gordo, shell beans were my default chili bean for as long as I had them in the freezer.  I don't know if I've ever made cassoulet with them - I'll have to do so, especially since I don't think I've made cassoulet yet for this blog (the result of the rising cost of duck).

They make a terrific bean dip when pureed with a little of their cooking liquid, olive oil and salt, and whatever seasonings appeal to you, from preserved lemon and thyme to sage and black truffles to garlic and chives.

The nice thing about fresh beans is that although you do have to cook them - shell beans aren't for eating raw - they cook faster than dried do.  Less than an hour, as little as twenty minutes - it seems to vary every year for me, depending probably on just when the beans were picked.

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