Shell Beans: Cranberry and Tongue of Fire

shell beans

A delayed post from my pick-my-own excursion at the farm the other day. I filled half of a paper grocery bag with shell beans – from varying sources I found them called both Cranberry beans and Tongue of Fire beans. I got these for the first time last year and I was so pleasantly surprised! First of all, they are gorgeous. The long pink and white speckled pods each hold maybe 5 or 6 large similarly dappled beans. That these are fresh is amazing. I wouldn’t eat them raw, but when you cook them – depending on your dish, they become soft in about 10 to 15 minutes of boiling time – they have a great meaty-ness to them. I took almost an hour to shell the whole bag and then froze some (last winter I pulled out a container and made a great cassoulet), dried some in the dehydrator (just a  few hours), and then cooked some up with kale and garlic. The only downside is that they lose most of their dynamic color when cooked.

Tongue of Fire Beans and Kale

Boil the shelled beans in the bottom of a saute pan in enough water to cover them (and/or broth and/or wine) until tender -about 10 – 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them and add a bit of water if it starts to look dry. You want the pan to be wet but not have more than 1/2 inch of liquid on the bottom. Toss in some chopped fresh garlic and a drizzle of good olive oil saute until just tender. Add freshly washed chopped kale, salt and pepper, and cover the pan so the kale can steam. Toss with tongs every few minutes and finish with another drizzle of good olive oil and maybe a few pinches of smoky salt to taste. Yum!