I was excited that the first installment of this year's Lonesome Whistle Farm CSA included these heirloom Vermont cranberry beans, which I hadn't had a chance to sample last year. As a native New Englander, I wanted to honor these beans' heritage with a simple but enlightened preparation.
We also had some collard leaves from our Open Oak Farm CSA, which seemed like the kind of substantial green that Alcott or Emerson would have espoused. I started a bean pot with some sauteed leeks and jalapeno, and then simmered the beans until just tender.
Then I sauteed sliced collard greens with plenty of garlic in a shallow pan, to which I added the beans and their liquid. Another twenty minutes on the stove simmered off most of the bean juice, melded the flavors, and rendered the greens silky but not too soft. These beans were a delicious accompaniment to roast ham for dinner, and the leftovers were even more scrumptious the next day topped with a fried egg in a New England take on huevos rancheros.
Cranberry Beans and Collard Greens
2 cup cranberry beans, sorted, rinsed and soaked while you prepare the other ingredients
4 Tbsp olive oil (divided use)
1 large or 2 small leeks
1 jalapeno pepper
5 cups water
1 bunch collard greens
3 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1. Cut off the root and green part of the leeks, slice the white part lengthwise, and rinse thoroughly. slice lengthwise again and then cut into 1/4 inch slices. Seed and chop the jalapeno pepper finely.
2. Heat a Dutch oven and add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Over medium low heat, saute the leeks and jalapenos until they become nicely caramelized, about 6 minutes, but avoid letting them brown.
3. Drain the beans and add to the pot along with 5 cups of water and a generous pinch of salt. If you like, you can presoak the beans for a longer period of time, but I find it unnecessary, especially with this newly dried beans. Bring the pot to a very gentle simmer and cook for about an hour (longer for older beans) with the lid cracked. Keep an eye on the liquid level. You want the beans to have some broth, but if they seem too soupy, simmer with the top off. Turn off the beans when they are just tender and add more salt and pepper as needed.
4. Rinse the collard greens, cut the center stem from the leaves, and chop them into 1/2 inch strips. Peel the garlic cloves and mince them.
5. Heat a large, shallow pan that can hold all of the beans. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil and briefly saute the garlic. Then add the collard greens and a generous pinch of salt and saute until they turn bright green and fragrant. Now add the beans and their liquid, mix, and let the collard greens simmer in the bean juices for about twenty minutes. Once the greens are the desired degree of tenderness and the beans have thickened, serve warm. These are delicious topped with a fried egg.
Other recipes for heirloom beans