Tag Archives: legumes

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Lima Beans . . . Yum?

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, my Nana told me that she loved lima beans when she was my age.  Then she paused briefly before going on to say, “But they just don’t taste the same anymore.” 

No wonder.  The lima beans of my Nana’s adulthood — and for all of my childhood —  were either the salty canned variety or the insipid frozen kind. 

While I never turned my nose up at lima beans, I never really embraced them, either.  That is, until, I found them at my farmers market, fresh and still in their pods. 

Now I finally understand why Nana once loved lima beans.

Lima Beans . . . Yum?

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Smile!

The fact that I can get locally grown peanuts in New York City never ceases to amaze me.  I had to go without them last year because of an exceptionally wet spring.  But this year, fresh local peanuts are back in my farmers market, thanks to organic farmers Zaid and Haifa Kurdieh of Norwich Meadows Farm.  And that makes me SMILE!

SMILE!

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Surprise!

I was away from home last week, working on the other side of the country.  When I returned, a visit to my farmers market was very near the top of my “To Do” list.  Once there, I found the summer produce season at its peak, and amaranth, corn, lemon cucumbers, sweet onions, green garlic, chilis of every variety, baby eggplant, carrots, zucchini, okra, edamame, sugar snap peas, English shell peas, cranberry beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, cherries, blueberries, and countless varieties of tomatoes, all found their way into my cart.

I still have no idea what I will do with most of it, but I can hardly wait to find out.  I love a surprise!

Surprise!

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Northern Peanuts

Late last fall, to my great surprise and immeasurable pleasure, my farmer friend Syed brought crates and crates of peanuts to my farmers market from his farm in nearby New Jersey, Lani’s Farm.  That’s right.  Local peanuts.  Fresh from the ground this far north of the Mason Dixon line.  They were clumped together and covered in New Jersey dirt, and I couldn’t wait to get them home.  I washed them about a dozen times to get them clean, boiled them in salted water, and went to work peeling them.  They were so luscious that I hovered over the bowl removing the shells and stuffing my face as fast as I could, undoubtedly looking like someone who hadn’t eaten in days.  I returned to Syed’s stand every week to buy a few more pounds until the season ended, when I began immediately to look forward to this year’s crop. 

But this year there was no peanut crop.  When I asked Syed in midsummer when I could expect the first harvest, he looked at me as if he were about to break my heart.  And then he did.  The relentless spring rains and soggy fields had put them so far behind in their planting schedule that they never got around to getting the peanut seedlings into the ground.  I tried not to look as if I were about to burst into tears, and Syed promised me that he would plant them next year.

And I promised that I would wait.

Peanuts

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Anatomy of a Cranberry Bean

When I was a little girl, my paternal grandmother had a sewing basket that she kept in the enclosed back porch of her Chicago home.  Inexplicably, at the bottom of the basket — alongside the needles, thread, and darning egg  — were more than a dozen shiny marbles, each different from the other.  I couldn’t wait to hold each one up to the light and admire its size, shape, color, and unique design.  Each year, when cranberry beans come into season, I am reminded of the surprise I experienced when I first found the precious and beautiful little objects in such an unpredictable place.

Cranberry Beans

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Chick Pea, Singular

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably never given much thought to how chick peas — also known as garbanzo beans — come into the world.  For most of us, we are familiar with them only once their dried and put in a bag or cooked and put in a can.  You may be surprised, then, to learn that they come into the world the way most humans do — alone.  Unlike other legumes, most chick peas come in their own little pod.  I guess that means they don’t fight much with their siblings while they’re growing up.

Chick Pea

 

Fava Beans

Many fava bean lovers bemoan the fact that preparing the beans is labor intensive, first requiring removal from the pod, and then needing a quick blanch before removing the hull.  Only then, it is widely believed, are the precious beans finally ready to be cooked.  Early in the season, though, when the hulls are still tender, I like to skip the second step and roast the beans, hull and all, after tossing them in olive oil and a little sea salt.  The result is a slightly chewy, nutty tasting morsel with a tender burst of creaminess in the middle.  In the end, though, whether you peel them once or peel them twice, fava beans are always worth the effort for those of us who love them.

Fava Beans

Charred Beet and Lentil Salad

The fact that we almost never eat out makes us unusual among New Yorkers.  Last week, however, we were on a “staycation,” which meant that I didn’t cook every day.  On Friday, we took the East River Ferry over to the Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Dumbo neighborhoods of Brooklyn — practically a foreign country to a committed Manhattanite like me.  While in Williamsburg, we stopped for lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant called Zizi Limona, which we’d read about in the “Cheap Eats” issue of New York Magazine.  $11 bought us this beautiful and delicious platter of charred beet and lentil salad with tahini and date honey sauce.  It was so sublime that it may actually get me to go to Brooklyn more than once a year.

Charred Beet and Lentil Salad