We are NOT eating enough beans in this country. And yeah, I know, everyone has already harangued you about buying dried beans instead of the canned variety. “They’re so much more economical!” “They have so much more flavor!” “You don’t know what you’re missing!”
OK, but real talk? Screw dried beans, get the FRESH variety anytime you see them! It’s bean season in my neck of the woods, and that means I’m buying them in their pods and cooking up a fresh batch every week. The fresh beans cook up more quickly than either dried or canned (no need to soak), and they are GENUINELY more flavorful. I’m in love with scarlet runner beans because of their intense color (which, yes, fades in the cooking process), but buy whatever your farmers have on hand, it’s well worth whatever they’re charging
This recipe is simple and flavored with one of my favorite ingredients: salami. The cubes of cured pork sing through the simmering beans and give me plenty of meaty heft to pump up the entire dish.
Yield: 4-6 servings
2 pounds Fresh Scarlet Runner Beans in the pod (shelled you should have 1-1 ½ pounds)
3 ounces Hard Cured Salami, small dice (~⅔ cup)
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes
5-6 large Garlic Cloves, smashed
1 sprig Rosemary
2 fresh Bay Leaves
3 cpus Stock or Water
¾ cup Olive Oil
Juice of one Lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat 3-quart sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add diced salami and toss/cook until lightly crisped and some fat has rendered, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes and garlic cloves to pan, toss to coat with rendered fat, and cook 3-5 minutes, until tomatoes are slightly blistered.
Add freshly shelled beans to pan, stir/toss to combine.
Add rosemary and bay leaves.
Add water and olive oil, season with salt and pepper (you can be aggressive with both, the beans absorb quite a bit of water). Stir to combine.
Bring pan to a boil, then drop heat to medium-low and simmer until beans are tender. Depending on how recently the beans were harvested, this can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 75 minutes. Beans are done when they pierce or mash easily with a fork, but are not yet falling apart. Liquid should reduce until it’s almost gone (except for the oil). If at any time during the cooking process it appears that the liquid has dropped too low in the pan (i.e., the beans are drying out), add more water by the ½ cup until they’re just barely covered again.
When beans are done, remove from heat, stir in lemon juice to taste and serve.