Friday, January 28, 2011

Fresh Shell Beans

Every two weeks we get a a basket of organic produce from Culantro Rojo.  

The baskets always have a nice mix of things-- bitter greens, plantains, oranges and tomatoes.  I love opening the  basket and imagining all the things I can make.  The unexpected assortment of ingredients presents a great creative challenge; I find myself googling and getting cookbooks out.  The produce is lovely of course, but I relish the challenge.  I love lifting the lid of the basket and finding something I don't recognize.  Tomate de árbol?  Bring it on!  (fantastic in apple pie by the way).  The basket really forces me to try local ingredients I'm apprehensive of.  I sometimes have this feeling that certain local things are out of my range--like it would be inauthentic for me to cook typical dishes.  This is ridiculous I know, but you wil probably never catch me making arroz con pollo.

Once when we lived in Costa Rica I was invited by neighbours to take part in a cooking contest.  I was really honoured and scared (those ladies could cook!).  The contest was meant to showcase light and healthy food--it was sort of a health expo.  I made chicken salad with mango thinking it was light, but not too outlandish.  Of course I was beaten by the pastel de carne (light my arse!) and tamales (which were exquisite).  I didn't have a chance; but I was glad I hadn't attempted anything typical because then they would have really laughed at me!  All that to say, I'm a little shy about local recipes and ingredients.  Look at the silly gringa trying to make patacones!

Anyway, our last basket contained fresh shell beans.

A real treat! There is something so satisfying about shelling beans; it's primeval like kneading bread.

 I cooked them in stock and then mixed them with some cooked quinoa, chopped onion, roasted pepper and some olive oil  and lemon to make a salad.  

The beans were delicious.  The flavour is nutty and delicate.  They would also be great sautéed with tomatoes and onions.

Next, what I did with the plantains...

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