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Branching Out With Beans

(post, Jean Henrich)

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Funny how I barely notice the produce at the farmer's market that I'm not familiar with - I only have eyes for the fruits and veggies that have become part of our repertoire. But I managed to break out of my rut a bit recently by trying a couple new (to me) types of beans.

First, it was shelling beans, and my first purchase of cranberry beans. Between tips from the farmer at the market and googling for further ideas on  how to cook them, I was all set. The farmer had suggested that the beans make a great soup, but in our 90+ degree kitchen that didn't seem feasible. So I just cooked them in water for 20 minutes or so and ate them cold, dressed them simply in olive oil and lemon juice.  I was disappointed that they lost their bright variegation in the cooking process and turned out a pinkish-gray, but I liked the texture and flavor. They really did have a nice fresh taste compared to dried beans. And shelling the beans was actually kinda fun.

Next, it was pole beans - I bought a sampling of "Marvel of Venice" beans, which are an Italian heirloom (pictured). I was surprised to hear that you are supposed to eat the flat yellow pod. Not much came up on the Internet on these, aside from seed catalogs. But I sauteed them in olive oil with garlic, salt and pepper, as the market stand worker suggested. They were just OK - I'm afraid that getting the full enjoyment out of these tender-crunchy pods is still in the future for me.