At the local farmer’s market, I’ve often been intimidated by some of the most beautiful produce on offer during the summer months: the varieties of shelling beans and peas that arrive in unusual colors and shapes. While I’ve admired these beans for their beauty, I’ve never been quite sure of what to do with them…and the prospect of spending time removing them from their pods has never been particularly attractive.
But when a pound of Tongue of Fire beans arrived in the CSA share this week, I had to step up to the plate. And…It was totally worth it.
The shelling itself turned out to be somewhat of a meditative exercise, as I got a little lost in the purple swirls of pigment that decorate both the pods and the beans themselves. Once released from their shells and cooked in a little boiling water, the beans lost their unusual coloration, but developed a robust nutty flavor that paired beautifully with some other vegetables from the CSA and the market.
Here’s the recipe I used to make a perfect summer salad. Now that I know what treasures they are, I am intimated by beans no more!
Tongue of Fire Bean Salad with Corn and Tomatoes
1 pound tongue of fire beans
2 ears of corn
2 medium tomatoes or 15 cherry or grape tomatoes
1 shallot, minced (I used garlic in place of the shallot—worked just as well)
1 ½ tablespoons vinegar: sherry, red wine or champagne
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
10-15 leaves of fresh basil
Shell the beans and shuck the corn
Place the corn in a large pot of boiling water and cook for 5-7 minutes
Remove the corn and add the beans to the pot. Cook until they are tender but not falling apart (I found this to be about 10 minutes). Drain the beans and rinse under cold water.
Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, and shallot or garlic.
Slice the tomatoes into small wedges or chunks; if you are using cherry or grape tomatoes, cut them in half. Add the tomatoes to the vinaigrette.
When the beans are cooled, add them to the tomatoes and vinaigrette. Shave the corn kernels off the cobs, using a sharp knife, and add them to the bowl. Toss gently but well enough to coat everything with the vinaigrette.
Wash and dry the basil leaves. Create a chiffonade by stacking 4 or 5 leaves on top of one another and rolling them up together. Slice the roll to create thin strips of basil. Add these to the salad along with freshly ground pepper and salt to taste, and toss gently.
Overall, this was a pretty good week for the psolet challenge. I used the sweet bell pepper, tomatoes and cuke in a salad, reran some favorite recipes for lemony beets and roasted carrots with Walla Walla onion, and used the beet greens in a frittata. Gingered leeks turned out to be less delicious than I had hoped, but they still got eaten. However, I still have the jalapeno pepper sitting in my fridge, alongside a chunk of fennel from last week’s share. And while I used some basil in the bean salad, the remainder of the bunch is waiting for me to muster some more creativity.
My CSA psolet challenge ‘officially’ ends this week—but the CSA runs through November, and I do hope to continue keeping waste to a minimum. I’ve noticed that my biggest struggles continue to be with lettuce and other greens (and apparently basil!). So, I’d love to hear from you: what are your favorite tips and recipes for using up your CSA produce and avoiding psolet in your kitchen?
Shuli Passow started her relationship with CSA’s in 2004 when she joined Hazon’s first CSA at Anshe Chesed, and is now a member of Hazorim, a Hazon CSA at B’nai Jeshurun. When she’s not cooking locally grown vegetables, Shuli keeps busy as a fourth year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary and rabbinic intern at New York University. A former Hazon board member, Shuli has worked as a Jewish educator and communal professional for nearly 15 years.