Thursday, August 12, 2010

What the heck do I do with....Shelling beans?

I love when I see the first shelling beans at the farmer's market; inevitably I get a memory of visiting Italy and eating the most amazing beans, simply prepared with garlic, rosemary and extra virgin olive oil.
These beans are called Barlotti beans or Cranberry beans and they are beautiful...check them out:
As you can see, they come in a variety of patterns. Unfortunately, as they cook, they lose their beauty and turn an ugly gray color. However, what they lose in beauty, they gain in taste; the beans are soft, buttery and delicious.

Fresh shelling beans are so easy to cook. Simply shell the beans, rinse them and put them into an ample sized pot. Cover the beans with water to about 3/4 of the way up the pot. Add in some whole cloves of garlic, like 4-6 cloves, some thyme, and a couple bay leaves then bring to the boil.
I have learned in the past that salting beans prior to them being (partially) cooked is a no-no; this is supposedly because if salted, the salt interferes with the bean softening up. So, with these fresh beans, I let them go 5 minutes, then I add in a generous amount of sea salt or kosher salt.
The beans take about 15 minutes total...that's it. Too easy to not do yourself.
When the beans are done simply drain them, put them in a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. They make a great accompaniment to grilled meat or as a topping on a salad of mixed herbs.

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