Most home cooks have not had the pleasure of working with locally grown heirloom beans fresh from the pods. There are thousands of varieties of heirloom beans and each has its own distinct taste and texture.
Fresh shelled heirloom beans generally cost less than other local protein sources and are a substantial source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Heirloom beans truly are a super food.
When at the farmers market, look for bean pods that look fresh, are plump and have no blemishes. You should be able to feel the beans inside the pods. Store fresh bean pods in the refrigerator and use them within a few days. Or you can freeze them on a cookie sheet in a single layer for later use.
Fresh shelled heirloom beans do not need to be soaked like dry beans do before they are simmered. Remember not to add salt during the cooking process as this may toughen the beans.
Farmer Bryan Black of Platte River Gardens in Interlochen grows a wide variety of heirloom beans using sustainable growing practices.
“We focus on heirloom bean varieties which have a natural insect and disease resistance,” Black said. “We select heirloom varieties that look promising. However more importantly, we carefully note consumer reaction to them at markets. The Dragon Tongue variety is a pleasing discovery, customers find the taste and color to be truly outstanding.”
Radish, Pea Shoot and Heirloom Bean Salad
Platte River Gardens coco rubio heirloom beans
9 Bean Rows Farm green onion
Food for Thought olive oil
Black Star Farms verjus
Food for Thought wild star thistle honey
9 Bean Rows Farm radishes
Spring Hollow Farm pea shoots
Hull, wash one cup coco rubio heirloom beans and add beans to a medium metal soup pot with enough water to just cover the beans. Slice one half cup green onion whites and add to soup pot. Cover soup pot, bring beans to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer beans covered for 45 minutes.
In a small glass jar, whisk together four tablespoons olive oil, two tablespoons verjus, one teaspoon honey and season to taste with sea salt and ground pepper. Taste beans for doneness, skim beans from soup pot, rinse beans and add beans to the dressing and let beans marinade for five minutes.
Thinly slice one cup radishes. Wash and dry two cups pea shoots. Slice one half cup green onion whites and greens, separating the individual sliced green onions whites into rings.
Per salad, plate one half cup radish slices with one cup pea shoots and one-two tablespoons green onions. Sprinkle salad with one half cup marinated beans, drizzle with one tablespoon dressing and a sprinkle of sea salt and ground pepper.
Kristin Celeste Shroeger of Traverse City is the food writer, recipe creator, photographer and dishwasher of The Intentional Minimalist, a website encouraging farm-to-table cooking with local, seasonal and sustainable produce. Visit www.theintentionalminimalist.com.