by Lori Longbotham
from Fine Cooking #115, pp. 68-73
Beans were a staple in my grandmother’s texas kitchen. She grew most of her own food, and the beans on her table—usually pintos from her garden—were always satisfying and full of flavor. When I was a child, one of my favorite meals was a bowl of her pinto beans with cornbread, dead-ripe cantaloupe, and crispy bacon from that year’s pig, whose name was always Bacon. For me, it just didn’t get better than that.
Today, my grandmother would be amazed at the great big world of beans out there beyond the everyday cannellini, kidney, and black beans. Allow me to introduce you to four of my favorites: butter, Anasazi, flageolet, and cranberry beans.
Here, I’ll show you how to buy, store, and soak them, and I’ll share some of my best recipes, too. To start, try my fragrant lamb stew made with the herbal flageolet, a pale, creamy bean beloved in France. Or add speckled, nutty cranberry beans to a salmon salad for a hearty boost of flavor and texture. Mild, plump Anasazis give my sausagestudded beans and rice a creamy note and rich flavor, while tomato-y baked butter beans, which are indeed as buttery as their name suggests, is a warming cold-weather side dish.
These beans offer an amazing variety of tastes and textures, they’re good for you, and they’re easy on your pocketbook. Get to know them, and they’re sure to become your new favorites, too.
Photos: Scott Phillips