Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bean Beauty - Wild Salmon & Mixed Bean Salad

Boasting a questionable reputation (among boys especially), beans are not exactly the glamour girls of the food world.  Cranberry Beans (or Borlotti) may be the exception.

Naturally clad in a cream and fuschia-speckled cloak, the snowy white and hot-pink spotted beans are not only pretty, but they are easy to work with (which actually is the exception among glamour girls, too!).

A surprising bonus to using fresh beans that I've found is that it brings my kids around the table with me (yes, they came to me without asking), chatting about things, life, whatnot, while our hands stay busy separating the beans from their pretty pods. With a teenager, any activity that produces conversation is welcome, but when the activity also produces part of dinner, also...BONUS!

Cooking much quicker to cook than dried, (30 minutes vs. 1 1/2 hours) the beans, pods removed, are becoming part of my freezer stash ready for weeknight meals.  All they need is a couple of smashed garlic cloves, a sprig or two of fresh herbs or a bay leaf and covering with water.  After they start to boil, they can simmer for 20-30 minutes or til they are slightly firm, but creamy on the inside.

Once cooked, they can hang out in the fridge for a few days (3-4) so they are ready to throw into salads or soups.

The best and most authentic way to serve them for a side dish is to, while hot, toss the drained beans with the juice of one lemon, a good teaspoon or more of sea salt, some red pepper flakes and a good dousing of olive oil.Though this is how mine started, I decided using them as a salad component would be a good late summer dinner idea.

Remember the Campout?  I had that grilled salmon available in the fridge so we made a quick salad with the beans along with green beans and greens from our veggie box, some feta and olives and a lemony dressing.

My non-fish eater loved having the beans as his vegetarian protein.  Little did I know how much he loved them until he announced "I LOVE cranberry beans, thank you so much for buying them" on his way inside to  get more after finishing his salad.

Note on buying the beans in pods, you will get about 1-11/2 cups of beans from each pound of beans before removing the pods.  So buy a lot.  And don't buy them in large quantities unless you pick them yourself (like in a large bag or box at a farmstand.) since many times these include premature bean pods as filler which are completely useless.  If you are lucky enough to find fresh beans, take the time to pick them out yourself.

Print Page Copyright 2012 Christi Flaherty, Cook What You've Got


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  2. Nice recipe. Unfortunately, I'm cooking bad :(.
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    I always check out this website before making food.
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