Do you ever get stuck in a cooking rut where you go through a phase cooking the same dishes week in, week out? Or are you the perpetually adventurous type, always trying out a new recipe?
During busy weeks I mindlessly speed shop through the market and walk out with the same staple items to cover several meals using the same recipes I’ve used for years. I do try to keep a meal or two open during the week for new recipes which helps to keep this blog fresh and hopefully interesting…but sometimes there’s no time for the new.
But other times everything falls into place and a new ingredient is introduced in the kitchen with no planning involved at all.
During my last visit to the farmers market I picked up some English peas for a dish on this week’s menu but I couldn’t resist their eye-catching neighbors. I wanted the cranberry beans, too–never mind that I had no clue what to do with them. Canned beans I’m a pro at using. Dried beans I’m getting the hang of. But fresh beans? They’re new to me.
The owner of the farmers market advised me of their short season, that they take only about 2o minutes to cook and that they’re typically used in soups. Soup wasn’t on the agenda for the week and I already had some salads in mind to make. There was no room for the cranberry beans in my menu but they were so beautiful I left the market with a bag of them, too.
The next day, giddy like a little girl with a new toy, I took the bright pink pods out of the refrigerator to take pictures of them. I still had no idea what to make but I knew that I could add them to a salad if I couldn’t get inspired. I boiled them for the prescribed 20 minutes until they were just tender, the texture of cooked garbanzo beans. Boiling them stripped the brightness from the beans but what they lost in color I was inspired to bring back through taste.
Don’t laugh at the paltry amount in my pot but that was all I had from half a bag of pods. After draining the cooked beans I threw them back in the pot for the second round on the stove. I sautéed them in olive oil along with some fresh sage, garlic, salt and a bit of lemon juice. The cranberry beans held up well cooked this way, retaining their firm texture and even getting a bit crisp. Frying them brought out their nutty quality enhanced by the garlic and salt. Think of garlicky roasted peanuts or chickpeas–but better–and this is what you have here. I added the sage because I have a lot of it growing in my yard but it ended up being a very nice addition, too. I wouldn’t leave it out.
My only complaint is that I didn’t have enough. After sampling a few beans I passed the tiny bowl on to my husband who promptly expressed his disappointment at not having more of the beans to enjoy. They were a tasty snack–ideal for entertaining because they’re easy to prepare.
I think a mid-week visit to the farmers market will be in order just so I can have another taste of these sautéed cranberry beans before they’re gone for the season. You might want to do the same.
- Fresh Cranberry Beans, shelled
- Minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves per cup of shelled beans)
- Olive oil (about 2 tablespoons per ½ - 1 cup of beans)
- Fresh sage leaves (as many as you want)
- Lemon or lime juice (a tablespoon ½ - 1 cup of beans)
- salt, to taste
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the beans until just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
- In the same pot or in another pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sage and fry for about 1 minute.
- When the sage starts to get crisp, add the beans and sauté for a couple of minutes. Season with salt.
- Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is fragrant and starts to color. Remove from heat, squeeze a bit of lemon juice, toss, and serve.