August 15, 2013

Slow Garlic and Cranberry Beans

What do you do when a colleague gives you fresh backyard garlic?

Sauté something.

I had a handfull of Cranberry Beans, also known as Borlotti Beans, from the Bellingham Farmers Market.

So I shelled them.

And I'm not sure that this was necessary, I blanched them.  I thought they might sauté up too quickly since they are fresh, so I blanched to kill any bacteria that might not get killed in a quick sauté.  "Sautéing is a form of dry-heat cooking that uses a very hot pan and a small amount of fat to cook the food very quickly. Like other dry-heat cooking methods, sautéing browns the food's surface as it cooks and develops complex flavors and aromas." (Alfaro).

I heated up a skillet, added extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil and tossed the beans in to sauté them. They appeared to lose their color at first, but the color reappeared once the skin relaxed and reconnected with the bean.

They did not cook up that quickly.  When I tested one for its tooth, or bite, it was hard.  So I added some leftover yogurt whey from the fridge and let them sit in the liquid to simmer for 30 minutes.

Yogurt Whey

Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of The Splendid Table on NPR, talked recently about ideas for using the leftover whey from dripping yogurt.  I drip my yogurt to make it Greek-style and had been wondering if I could do something with the leftover whey.  My sister said she was looking for ideas too.  Do you drip your yogurt?  Save the whey in a jar in the fridge.  I keep the whey for as long as the yogurt lasts. 

The Art of Fermentation author, Sandor Katz says to drip yogurt, "You take a few layers of cheesecloth or any kind of clean cotton cloth and put the yogurt in it, then hang it, and you'll just have whey dripping out of that. You can make it a little bit thicker, or you can make it a lot thicker -- something like cream cheese or even a harder cheese than that -- all depending upon how long you leave it dripping."

You can add it to your pan to make sauces.  I didn't think I would actually use it very often, but so far it has not lasted as long as the yogurt itself.  I have been adding it to things like a skillet of chicken, to veggies, and now to my cranberry beans.

After 30 minutes the beans were soft and creamy.  I added the backyard garlic that I chopped rough (not even).
Garlic Rough Copped

During the last few minutes I added pepper and the garlic.

Then added the kale and some leftover ancient Einkorn wheat pasta.  I covered the skillet for my mom's magic amount of time, three minutes, to heat everything thoroughly.

Added a dollop of my dripped Greek-style yogurt.

Dished it up and sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese.  Gorgeous, because we eat with our eyes first; nutritious because beans are full of protein, kale and Einkorn wheat is full of minerals and vitamins; meat free if you're doing that and I often do these days; and satisfying.

Slow Garlic and Cranberry Beans ingredients

Cranberry Beans, fresh, local

Garlic - fresh, local, backyard if you can get it, rough chopped

Olive Oil for the skillet

Yogurt Whey, or stock or soup base of your choice to simmer the beans and make a light sauce

Kale or Veggie of your choice, chopped

Pasta or Rice if you would like a starch to combine with the bean protein, plus it's more filling

Parmasen Cheese

Vegan alternatives:  It's easy to make this vegan, use a vegetable base or stock for the simmer sauce, use a non-dairy cheese or skip the cheese.  Top with herbs or seeds or something that you love.

No measurements - this was just an after-work throw together what is on-hand and in the fridge, dinner.    It was a slow meal not because it took long to cook, it didn't.  It only took about 45 minutes.

Slow food is food that is the opposite of fast food - industrialized, globalized food that is processed and shipped a thousand miles to reach us.

Slow food is in our backyard, it's from our local farmers and it's whole food that is recognizable in it's original form.  Slow food is food that we cook or bake ourselves.

Be adventurous, have fun, eat well.


Alfaro, D., How To Saute - All About Sautéing: Dry Heat Cooking With Fat.  Retrieved from

Katz, S. The Art of Fermentation interview with Lynne Rossetto Kasper on The Splendid Table, NPR. Retrieved from