Friday, July 12, 2013

Bean Obsessed

My mother is obsessed with beans.  That’s probably where I caught the bug!  When I was a kid she prided herself making soups with beans.  And when I say beans, she liked to use as many kinds as possible.  The more the variety the better, and if she could get up to 5 or 6 different types, she was in bean heaven.  This is no joke!  Our kitchen cabinets were filled with chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, black eye, Great Northern and kidney beans.

My Mom’s name is Jean and one Christmas I found the perfect gift for her.  It was a cookbook called “Jean’s Beans.”  Imagine the joy in my heart as I handed her a tome dedicated to the food closest to her heart.  She cooked from that book for months- from the front cover to the back- using all of the beans that crowded her cabinets. 

As you can imagine, beans were an early fixture on our kitchen table growing up.  When all the other kids grumbled at the thought of eating a lima bean, I thought beans were the way to go!  In the summer, Mom was making succotash with freshly shucked Butter Beans and Sugar Corn from her garden.  

Needless to say, I too love beans, especially during the summer when we get fresh shelling beans.  At the farmer’s market in the last week or so, I’ve been seeing lots of cranberry beans (a.k.a. Barlotti beans in Italy), limas and French butter beans.  

Fresh shelling beans are much easier to cook than dry beans.  There’s no soaking!  All you have to do is put the shelled beans in a saucepan with plenty of water and simmer until tender.  In most cases, they’re done in about 20 minutes. 

One of my favorite ways to eat them is simply warmed with your best virgin olive oil and kosher salt.  Or if you’re feeling ambitious, you might also want to pay tribute to my Mom and make this delicious Summer Succotash Salad...


Erin Kunkel Photography


3 ears fresh sweet corn on the cob, halved
1 cup fesh shelling beans 
Kosher salt
1 pound green string and/or yellow wax beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 medium red bell pepper, ½-inch dice
1 medium zucchini, ½-inch dice
½ red onion, ½-inch dice
2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons torn basil leaves

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.  Add the corn and simmer, until the kernels turn slightly darker yellow, 5 to 6 minutes.  With tongs, remove the corn from the water and let cool.  Cut the kernels of corn off the cob.  Discard the cobs and reserve the kernels.  

Bring the saucepan of water to a boil again.  Add the fresh shelling beans and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and cool.  

Bring the same saucepan of water to a boil.  Add 1 teaspoon salt and simmer the string or wax beans and simmer until almost tender but still very crisp, about 4 minutes.  Add the zucchini and simmer 2 additional minutes.  Drain and cool.   

Place the shelling beans, string beans, corn, peppers, zucchini and red onion in a large bowl. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and canola oil.   Season with salt and pepper.  Add the dressing and basil to the bean and corn mixture and stir together.  Place the salad in a large serving bowl and serve.

Serves 6

Recipe from:  


Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things said...

Loved the story accompanying this recipe, Joanne. And your dish looks so summery fresh! Not sure if you would remember me, but I once co-owned Cooking Coordinates in Canberra, Australia and you visited as a guest chef. Lovely to find you via the web.

fcgoldfarb said...

Just a note to let you know how much my family loved the Summer Vegtable Stew With Pesto. Yummy delish!!!So glad to re-connect and have new recipes from you. Last saw you in the Veneto for cooking class in May '99. Flora

swedefinn said...

Are you planning future culinary trips to Provence? I'd love to take my daughter to your class/tours.

Joanne weir said...

Hi Swedefinn, I'm doing classes this october but they are full, full full. I will probably do another in 2015. Next year is the Veneto including Venice and Northern Spain, la Rioja, an amazing area of Spain. Put your name on the mailing list so you find out immediately after we post everything. They fill quickly.

Marian@Migration Expert UK said...

What a cute story, I'm not into beans, But I will try this one and see what it taste. thanks..

Joanne Weir said...

Hi Marian, I hope this will convert you into a bean lover! Keep me posted.