Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Home-style Cranberry Beans

When I saw these heirloom Cranberry beans at my little roadside produce stand, I couldn't help but buy them -- they are gorgeous, interesting and suggestively historic. Cranberry beans, of which the Italian Borlotti bean is a variant, can be Garnet red, white or beautifully mottled, as mine were. A quick bit of research into the history of the bean mentioned Italy, Columbia and France, but ultimately was somewhat vague. In this country, the beans apparently date back beyond Colonial America.

I spent the past weekend at an International Food Bloggers Conference in New Orleans (more on that later!). On Saturday afternoon, local food personality Poppy Tooker spoke about sustainability, focusing on the idea of "eating it to save it" -- an interesting idea given that consumption is not generally offered as an argument in favor of sustainability. I buy local produce and meat whenever I can because supporting the small farms that produce them is good for the local economy and the environment. These farms have also carved out a market niche in heirloom vegetables and pastured meats that would likely disappear with these farms. I don't know though, that I've considered supporting these potentially endangered foods as promoting sustainability. I'm buying it though.

I bought the beans to go with a Southern-style dinner I'd planned for tonight. I had yellow squash in the fridge and had not had a corn bread fix in a couple of weeks. I borrowed a couple of ideas from this Jamie Oliver recipe and created this Home-style Cranberry Bean recipe:

Home-style Cranberry Beans

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 1/2 pounds Cranberry beans, shelled
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 medium red potato
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh tomato
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion for 2-3 minutes until it begins to soften.
  2. Add the cranberry beans and stir to coat with the oil.
  3. Pour the chicken broth over the beans so that they are covered by about 2 inches of broth.
  4. Add the garlic, potato, bay leaf, thyme and pepper.
  5. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn down the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the beans soften.
  6. Discard the bay leaf and thyme.
  7. Remove the potato and garlic, mash until smooth, then stir back into the beans.
  8. Add the tomato and salt and simmer with the top off for 5-10 minutes until the desired consistency is achieved.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time:
60 minutes

Cooked this way, the Cranberry beans have a creamy texture and somewhat nutty flavor, not unlike the resemblance of boiled peanuts to black-eyed peas. The beans were delicious alongside pork chops glazed with mayhaw jelly and mustard, yellow squash sauteed with onions, sliced tomatoes with basil and smoked Gouda and green onion corn bread muffins. We only have so many of these late summer meals left -- make the most of them!

This post is linked up over at 33 Shades of Green's Tasty Tuesday blog hop and the Lady Behind the Curtain's Cast Party Wednesday.


Dani said...

These beans are gorgeous - I love the somewhat tie-dyed color scheme...I agree, we need to make the most of these last-summer meals!

Lynn said...

It is a shame that the pretty colors cook out. I am glad I added the tomato so it would have a little color!