Fresh Shelling Beans, a Seasonal Treat

You know that summer is coming to an end when shelling beans start ripening in the garden and appearing in the farm markets. These are beans that are often encountered as dried but that are at a certain peak to be eaten fresh. In my own garden, I have a miniscule amount of pink lima beans, planted as a cover crop to nourish the soil with nitrogen but harvested as a bonus.

 From a local organic farm, I have cranberry beans, white beans mottled in pink and magenta shades. These are so picturesque that it’s worth remembering them in their raw state: they turn beige when cooked, but transfer the mental image to a recollection of amazing taste and texture.

 The cooked beans, gently simmered with a few aromatics (onions, celery, carrots), turn creamy and wonderfully flavorful in 10 minutes or so; they are reminiscent of their dried counterparts but fresher in texture and taste. I toss them, still warm, with salt and olive oil, and when cooled, with crushed garlic and finely minced parsley.

 Since we are at the end of a great harvest of green beans, some of the pods are full of fat beans.  In a variation of the simple shelled beans, I added the fat seeds from green bean pods that I cooked until well done, along with sliced green beans with less developed seeds. This was a great combination of creamy and crunchy, a tribute to a season that is making the transition from summer to fall.

Fresh Shelling Beans: cooking and serving simply

About 1 lb shelling beans such as cranberry beans or lima beans

1 small carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces

½ stalk celery, with leaves if possible

1 slice onion


1 tsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium garlic clove, crushed

1 tbsp finely minced parsley

Shell the beans and clean them to remove little bits of shell and any dirt that clings to the pods. Place them into a deep saucepan with the carrot, celery and onion. Cover with water (double the depth of the beans) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, around 10 minutes (but depending on your beans, it could vary from 5-20 minutes so check them periodically).

Drain the beans, reserving the liquid for vegetable stock (waste not want not). Sprinkle the beans with salt and olive oil and set aside to cool.

When cool, toss the beans with crushed garlic and minced parsley, adjusting the salt and oil to taste.

Variation: Shelling Beans and Green Beans

Cook the fresh shelling beans as above, and toss in olive oil and salt. Separately cook overripe beans in their pods in boiling water until tender. Remove the light green beans and add to the shelling beans. Use the pods to make a vegetable stock. Blanch young green beans in boiling water until tender. Cool and toss with olive oil and salt. Cut into 3/8-inch lengths and add to the shelling beans and toss the entire mix with crushed garlic and minced parsley, adjusting the olive oil and salt as needed.

Categories: Beans and legumesTags:

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