Beans, Shelled

David Lebovitz…you know David Lebovitz, yes?…says that the hardest thing about fresh shelling beans is finding them.

David, darling, if only you could find it in your heart to leave Paris, where it is cloudy, crowded and heartlessly scant of legumes, and to come to us in SoCal, you would find a generous sun that would warm your starved bones and provide shelling beans in plenitude, to blog about to your heart’s content.

Well, until he comes to his senses, here are some recipes culled from his website. God knows he won’t be making them anytime soon, being as il fait pretty damn froid where he’s living now.
…What? Was that a cough, David? Why, oh why, must you be so stubborn?

But you can use them. And then, gorgeous, why don’t you go play tennis or some such?

Fresh Shelling Bean Salad from David Lebovitz
To make a gorgeous salad with shelling beans, simply tear open the pods of the beans and pluck out the beans. A pound of beans will give you enough for about 4 people.

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and drop the beans in. Let them simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste one (careful, they’re hot!). I like my just slightly firm, but not too crunchy. Most fresh shelling beans cook in 20 to 30 minutes. But cook them to your liking.

While they’re cooking, make a simple vinaigrette using olive oil, your favorite vinegar, and if you have it, you won’t be disappointed if you add a little pour of nutty walnut, argan, or hazelnut oil.

When the beans are done, drain them.
Toss the beans in the vinaigrette while they’re warm, allowing them to absorb the lovely flavor of the vinaigrette better. If you want, add some chopped herbs, like basil and thyme, some freshly-ground black pepper and minced shallots (which are one of the great secrets of French cooking. Professional chefs use lots of shallots too. How come you don’t use them?)
Let cool to room temperature. You can allow the beans to marinate for a few hours, which will improve their flavor.

Quarter some tomatoes, coarsely chop some fresh mint and flat-leaf parsley, and toss them with the beans. Taste for salt and seasonings.

Did someone mention tossing in some fresh, sweet kernels of corn?
Did I hear something about adding big chunks of crumbled feta cheese?
Isn’t there anyone out there fighting for coarsely chopped green or black olives?

This salad is great just as it is, or as an accompaniment to roasted chicken or pork loin, or grilled fish. And it’s perfect for do-ahead entertaining.

Rosemary Crumb Beans

– 2 T butter
– 1C fresh bread crumbs
– 1/4 C chopped fresh parsley, packed firmly
– 1 T minced fresh rosemary
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 1 1/2 pounds shelling beans, fresh out of their shell
– 2 t melted butter
– 1 T lemon juice

Melt butter in skillet over low heat. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until they are golden brown. Transfer to a bowl. Blend parsley and rosemary together then combine with the crumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Separately steam the beans until just tender. Remove to a warm plate and stir in the melted butter and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with the breadcrumb mixture and serve. Serves 4-6

Shelling Bean and Yam Ragout with Swiss Chard

– 1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard or red chard (1 large bunch or 2 medium bunches)
– Salt to taste
– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– 1/2 medium onion, sliced in half moons across the grain
– 2 large garlic cloves, minced
– 1 pound shell beans, such as cannelini, borlotti, or purple runners, shelled (about 1 3/4 cups shelled)
– 1 pound yams, cut in 1-inch pieces
– 3 1/2 to 4 cups water
– A bouquet garni made with a sprig each thyme and parsley (or basil), a bay leaf and a Parmesan rind
– Freshly ground pepper to taste
– 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
– 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh marjoram leaves (optional)
– Freshly grated Parmesan for serving

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Stem the chard, setting aside the stems, and wash the leaves thoroughly in two changes of water. Wash the stems, trim away the ends and dice. Set aside. When the pot of water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the chard leaves. Blanch for one to two minutes, until tender but still bright, and transfer to the bowl of ice water. Drain, squeeze out excess water and chop coarsely. Set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about two minutes, and add the diced chard stems. Cook, stirring often, for about two minutes, until the stems begin to soften, and add the garlic. Stir together for a minute, and add the beans, potatoes, water (just enough to cover everything) and bouquet garni. Bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste. Cover and simmer 40 to 45 minutes, until the beans are tender. Add the blanched chard, and simmer for another two to three minutes. Add pepper, and then taste and adjust salt. Remove the bouquet garni. Stir in the parsley and marjoram, and serve, passing Parmesan at the table for sprinkling.

Puree of Shell Beans and Potato

– 1 pound shell beans, shelled (about 1 3/4 cups shelled)
– 1 small onion, halved
– 3 to 4 large garlic cloves (to taste), peeled and crushed
– A bouquet garni made with a sprig each parsley and sage, and a bay leaf
– Salt to taste
– 1 Yukon gold potato, about 10 ounces, peeled and diced
– About 6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
– About 1/4 cup broth from the beans (more to taste)
– Freshly ground pepper

1. Combine the beans, onion, garlic, bouquet garni and potato in a heavy saucepan or soup pot. Add enough water to cover by two inches. Add salt, and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer 40 to 45 minutes, or until the beans and potato are tender. Taste and adjust salt. Remove and discard the onion and the bouquet garni. Drain though a strainer or colander set over a bowl.

2. Add enough bean broth to get a moist puree, beginning with 1/4 cup and adding more as needed, and stir again to incorporate. Taste, adjust salt and add freshly ground pepper. Heat gently in the pot, stirring, and drizzle a little more olive oil over the top. Serve warm.

Yield: Serves 6.

Advance preparation: You can make this up to a day ahead, but it will stiffen. Save some of the bean broth for thinning out when you reheat.

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