Beans are not only a nutritious source of protein for us humans, but they are a building block of healthy soil as well.
This week on Good Food’s Market Report Segment, the co-founder of Heirloom L.A., Matt Poley, talks about how the business (that he runs with Tara Maxey) has expanded from its beginnings as a Lasagna Cupcake-making enterprise run out of a one bedroom apartment in L.A.
He says that shelling beans are a great crop to buy, because they are easy to make, and they help support the soil for some of the more prized crops like strawberries and heirloom tomatoes. He’s also a sucker for the pretty ones like the pink and white speckled Tongue of Fire shelling beans.
This recipe for Shelling Bean Panzanella is great for a light lunch or as a side with dinner.
Shelling Bean Panzanella
Makes enough for 6-8 Helpings
3 cups Shelling Beans, cooked (secret cooking process below)
1 large Heirloom Tomato, cored, diced
2 Cucumbers, sliced
2 cups Basil Leaves, sliced
1 small Red Onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
4 slices Rustic Bread, Grilled/toasted, Rubbed with Garlic, diced
Salt, Pepper and Olive oil to taste
Cooking fresh shelling beans is easy, because they already have water within the bean and don’t need to be soaked. I suggest you cover the beans in a sauce pot in a 50% water 50% olive oil cooking stock and simmer the beans with herbs, garlic and shallots until tender in (about 30 mins). This will give you plump, creamy beans that will last longer in the refrigerator. Add a little red wine vinegar and they will last even longer. Keep the beans stored in their cooking liquid for up to a week and use in salads, soups or as a nice alternative to mashed potatoes but prepared the same way.
In a large mixing bowl, season the tomatoes with salt, pepper and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. While that macerates, combine the onions, basil, cucumbers and balsamic in a separate bowl and toss to coat.
Combine all ingredients: Tomatoes, Cucumber mix Beans and Grilled Bread and toss. Serve Immediately alongside Roast Chicken or Beef or garnished with a fresh milk cheese such as buratta.