In late summer and early autumn, visit your market for fresh shell beans — these fleeting fresh beans have a sweet, creamy taste that their dried cousins can’t compete with. They come in hundreds of varieties, including cranberry beans, lima beans, scarlet runner beans and chickpeas, and add just the right amount of heartiness to seasonal dishes. Read on for our best tips for choosing, working with, and using fresh shell beans in the kitchen.
Look for: Choose beans that are still slightly moist. If they are in the pods, you should be able to feel round beans inside and the pods should be pliable, not crisp. Store the pods in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If the beans are shelled and you’re not using them right away, blanch them and place them in an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Prep tips: If your beans are still in the pod, remove them just before cooking. Fresh shell beans tend to cook much faster than dried ones, so be sure to pay attention to cooking times; remove shell beans from the heat as soon as they become tender.
Uses: Use fresh beans any way you would use dried — pureed into a spread, in soups and salads, alongside meats, or as a simple side dish. Here are some recipes to get you started.
|Roasted Chicken Breasts with Fresh Beans & Sage
Here, fresh beans are cooked with herbs and garlic to create a flavorful side for roasted chicken.
|Crispy Chickpea Triangles
In this recipe from Deborah Madison, green chickpeas are used to garnish crispy, savory triangles made from chickpea flour.
|Pork Chops with Cranberry Beans and Thyme
Perfect for an early autumn supper, this hearty dish combines pancetta-wrapped pork chops with fresh shell beans, such as cranberry or borlotti.
|Pasta Salad with Summer Beans and Herbs
Fresh beans shine in this summery recipe, perfect for a picnic or cookout.
|Vegetable Soup with Basil Sauce
This humble pasta soup is elevated by the additions of fresh beans and a sharp, intensely flavored pesto.