I love cranberry beans.
Let me back up. You all know that beans are the corner stone of a plant-based diet, right? A perfect mix of protein and fiber, beans are filling, tasty, economical and no plant-based diet is complete without them. Most of the time I eat soybeans, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and chickpeas (or ceci beans, as they’re also called), but my favorite are cranberry beans. Fresh cranberry beans.
You can buy them dried fairly easily, but they’re a challenge to find fresh and grown locally. Last year I came across some at Whole Foods, but I didn’t happen upon them this year there. For the last many times I’ve been to the Farmer’s Market I’ve been looking for them without success (I’ve gotten excited when fooled by Dragon Tongue Beans on occasion. They look similar, but are entirely different). This past weekend, I got lucky!
Oh, I was so excited! The only problem was that I had so many food plans for the week, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to use them just now.
Fortunately, they freeze well. Simply shell the beans, lay them out on a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap and freeze overnight, then transfer to a freezer bag or other container.
Cranberry beans are among the prettiest beans you’ll find- though only before they’re cooked.
The pretty pink spots on white flesh fade to a solid pinkish-tan, like pinto beans. But the magic is still inside! There’s something different about fresh shell beans than dried (or frozen, but frozen comes closer). They’re soft and creamy, though they retain a bit of chewiness.
I cook them nearly the same way nearly every time- cooked over low heat in some vegetable broth, a little white wine, with sliced shallots or leeks and garlic, dried thyme and whatever fresh herbs I have on hand (I salt at the end). Takes about 40 minutes. My favorite way to serve is on top of risotto.
I know I’ll be back this week to look for more of my favorite beans! I hope that you’ll give them a try, too. Just save some for me!