I shelled beans for the first time recently. I was at the farm stand, making my usual rounds, going through the French green beans before heading over to the beets, fennel, then the squash. Out of the corner of my eye, a woman walked in and headed over to a huge bin of shelling beans. She filled a bag, then another. Curious, I walked over to finger a pod. She asked, "Have you cooked with these?" I had not. She replied, "Oh, they're the best. They cook up real good and you can even freeze them and use them a year later." I certainly like the best.
When I looked these beans up online, I learned they are called "cranberry beans," due to the fuchsia shell. Inside, the beans look like speckled Easter eggs. And when they cook, the rosy spots evaporate and leave a cream-colored bean. They are tender, buttery and easy to work with. I put a twist on a traditional mirepoix by using fennel instead of celery. A little chicken stock and we were good to go. Fresh bean soup.
Comfort food season is here. Josh and I have been experimenting with our favorite standby dishes. In the last few weeks, we have turned out a decent pineapple fried rice, cheesy enchiladas, creamy polenta, and a sweet/spicy sausage pizza. What should we make next?