first shell beans

I don’t know if garden hygiene is more of problem this year, what with all the damp, or whether I’m just more alert to it. In any case, last week I walked out and saw one of my cranberry bean plants beginning to collapse upon itself, so I pulled it up immediately.

Shell beans are a blessing for the gardener who wants to extend her home-grown eating over the long, cold winter. Not only are they delicious and versatile, they require almost no processing. Thus, it feels a bit like cheating your own future to eat them in full summer, before they’ve had a chance to dry out.  Best to make the most of it!

The beans made one layer on the bottom of my saucepan. I poured in enough olive oil to just cover them, then added a splash of white wine. Also three large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped. And laid a few branches of thyme on top. Then I covered the pot, turned the burner to the lowest heat possible, and left them for a little over an hour. I think of it as sort of a bean confit.

While the beans cooked, naturally, I made bread. Because I was not just having a bowl of beans for dinner, I was having a bowl of beans and olive oil, and an appropriate vehicle was needed to convey that delicious shiny stuff to my mouth.

This super-rich bean preparation cries out for a hit of lemon zest & juice before serving, but I didn’t have a lemon. I did, however, have a handful of cherry tomatoes. I placed them on top of the beans, rolled them about so they were covered all over with the now unbearably fragrant oil, then replaced the lid and let them soften. All in all, I probably let them sweat for about half an hour, occasionally rolling them so that a different surface sat in the oil. They promised to be delicious, but not particularly effective at cutting the richness. A handful of peppery old arugula solved that problem just fine.000_0882

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