Beans are the most important single garden crop. Once fully mature, they provide protein. They are Legumes, which means they can use Nitrogen from the air to make protein. Other vegetables or grains can’t do that. A young horticultural bean cannot be used as a snap bean because the pod fiber is too tough. They are ready for harvest when the pods start changing from green to yellow. If they are allowed to completely dry out, they can be stored as dried beans and need to be soaked prior to making chilli, soups and stews. Many of the heirloom varieties are horticultural beans. The seeds can be quite decorative with swirls of colour. They can be used fresh for making bean salads, stews and various other soups and chilli or dips. In case of unavailability, pinto beans make an excellent cranberry bean substitute, since they are similar in size, taste and flavour. The Cranberry bean is considered to be a heart food since it has the ability to lower cholesterol, control the levels of blood glucose in diabetics and reduce the risk of cancer. This legume is also rich in antioxidants, which fight against the free radicals in the body. The beans are excellent sources of phytochemicals, molybdenum and folic acid.
CRANBERRY BEAN SALAD
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh cranberry or lima beans in pods
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil leaves
- ground black pepper
Shell beans. In a large saucepan of boiling water cook beans with salt until tender and no longer mealy, 10 to 20 minutes. Drain beans and transfer to a bowl. While beans are still warm, toss with remaining ingredients and season with salt. Serve salad warm or at room temperature.
CURRIED CRANBERRY BEANS
- 1 to 1 1/2 cup fresh cranberry beans, (can of romano beans or soaked dried beans)
- 2 tablespoons mild extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced finely
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- Juice of half a lemon
Heat oil in a pot, add onions and fry until golden brown. Add mustard seeds, and when they begin to splutter, add tomatoes. Add garlic, salt, turmeric, chilli powder and cumin powder, and stir. Cook for 10 minutes, then add beans. Stir, cover and leave to cook on low heat for 30 minutes, until beans are cooked through. Stir in lemon juice. Garnish with cilantro or coriander and serve with rice, and a side salad.