Those big oval creamy lupini beans from the so-called olive bar at grocery stores are deliciously addictive eaten as part of an antipasto or tossed into a salad. I haven’t found a good or reasonably priced source for them, and I hear they need quite a lot of preparation. Those beans are native to Italy and are very high in protein, similar to soybeans. I finally found a great alternative: dried snowcap beans. Snowcap beans are beautiful, rusty orange and white.
They’re the size of pinto beans when dried but expand to nearly the size of lupini when cooked, ½-¾ inch long. Creamy in texture and very flavorful, they nearly begged for a light marinade of oil and vinegar. I added very finely diced red pepper and minced parsley, along with a little salt and pepper. You could also add garlic, but I wouldn’t add raw garlic to the beans. Rather, I would marinate sliced garlic in the oil and vinegar and discard it before dressing the beans.
Snowcap beans are available from Rancho Gordo, a California grower. I brought mine back from the San Francisco farmers’ market but you can order them online. I soaked them in water for 2 hours and then simmered them on the stove until tender, a little over an hour. I dressed them with salt and a little olive oil as they were cooling, and saved the bean broth for soup.