Cucumbers are believed to have originated in Asia and have probably been used for human food for millennia. Excavations in Thailand have dated them to about 9700 BC. They were first domesticated in India. Like tomatoes, they are botanically a fruit rather than a vegetable. Although they were eaten fresh, many varieties were originally developed more for preserving and storage than fresh eating. Surprisingly, given their high moisture content, they can be dehydrated. This is one vegetable where the issue of plant sex rears its head, because some forms of cucumbers have been bred to have mostly female flowers, which increases yield. As far as I know, however, they’re all hybrids. Cucumbers are supposed to be subject to a lot of diseases, but I haven’t ever found that to be a problem. Sometimes ants will use them as an aphid farm, but if you remove the infested plant, that usually solves the problem. Infestations tend to occur when the cuke is fairly well along in its lifespan and is getting the dwindles, anyway. I generally just pull it out. If you want to save the plant, spray both ants and aphids with vinegar; won’t hurt the plants, but it knocks out the insects.

Growing Cucumbers

Cucumbers are a tropical plant and hate cold weather. Plant them too early and they’ll sulk or rot. They will do best if direct seeded, as they don’t like to be transplanted. You can get away with it if you use my method of growing in a smallish round container and tapping the root ball out intact. Like all cucurbits, they need plenty of water for best quality. You can grow them on the ground but they really do better on a trellis, as they are a vining plant. The cucumbers will also be straighter on a trellis and you’re not likely to lose as many under the luxuriant foliage. They can be very heavy when bearing fruit, so make sure your trellis can support their weight. If you use poles to support your vines, you’ll have to tie the vines to the poles, as they can’t quite manage to twine their way up the way a pole bean would; they climb a wire trellis easily with their tendrils. A slanted lean-to with a roof made of brush or slender poles spaced about four inches apart, or hog wire fencing wired across it, is ideal for cucumbers. They can climb it easily and the large spaces allow the fruit to hang down, easy to find and pick. You can also plant shade-tolerant crops such as lettuce under the lean-to. Face the tall end of the lean-to south, as the cucumbers will want to travel toward the light. Cucumbers come in three versions: slicers, picklers and either-wayers. They also come in bush varieties, but I don’t think they’re worth the effort unless you have very limited space. Vines produce a lot more and, if you grow them vertically, take less space. Growing them vertically also decreases the potential for rot and ground-dwelling insect attacks.

You’ll get vitamins A, C and K from cukes, as well as the minerals magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and potassium.

Cucumber Varieties

  • National Pickling – The name makes it clear what its purpose is. They were developed in the early 1920s because pickle growers wanted a better-shaped and more versatile cuke. The National Pickle Packers Association and the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station collaborated to come up with this blocky, dark green cucumber that really makes great pickles, and released it to the public in 1924. Although they’re supposed to be equally good as slicers if you let them get a little bigger, I think real slicers are a better deal. National Pickling is a little more susceptible to short water rations and more likely to get aphids, as compared to Boston Pickling.
  • Boston Pickling – this one is older than National Pickling by a good 40 years at least. It had some improvement work done in the 1950s to give it disease resistance. The original name – “Green Prolific” – gives you a clue about its production. This one is not meant to be a slicer, but if it’s the only one ripe at the moment, slice it thin and sprinkle very lightly with sugar. It’s considered the standard against which all pickling cucumbers are measured.
  • Lemon – introduced in 1894. These are the original burpless cucumbers and quite sweet. Skins are very thin and there’s no need to peel them – a boon to the busy ranch wife. They can also be used for pickling.
  • Crystal Apple – An Australian variation of the Lemon Cucumber that was first listed in a 1934 Ferry Morse catalog, also called the Apple Cucumber or Crystal Lemon. It tends to be closer to a pale creamy green, and the shape is similar to that of a Red Delicious apple. I think these are even better than Lemon cukes. One caveat: eat as soon as possible after harvest. They’ll start to shrivel within a couple of hours, whether at room temp or in a fridge.
  • Marketmore – there are several versions: Marketmore 76, Marketmore 80 and Marketmore 97. As you would expect, 76 is the original version. Developed by Dr. Henry Munger at Cornell University, it was released in 1976, hence the number attached to the name. The 97 version is licensed and you can’t legally save the seeds. They’re all dark green slicers that grow up to 11 inches long, but they’re best at about 8 inches. Prolific and good in salads. I prefer the 76 version; the others supposedly have better disease resistance, but I don’t find that’s an issue.
  • Straight Eight – the name comes from its growth habit and length at maturity. A slicer, this is a Ferry Morse introduction from 1935. Usually very productive for me. They can be peeled, although the peels are thin enough that you don’t have to. Also makes pretty good bread and butter pickles – the kind you store in the fridge for a week or so.
  • Armenian – If you want something a little more exotic, you could try this one. It’s really more closely related to the oriental bitter melon family, and if you don’t keep it well-watered, it will begin to exhibit those characteristics. Pale green and deeply ridged, these can grow quite long, hence the nickname “Yard Long Cucumber.” They’re OK for a conversation piece, but I don’t think they taste as good as regular cucumbers. However, I have friends who prefer this to all other cucumbers.

If I could only have one cucumber, I would go with Boston Pickling. It does make an OK slicer, especially if grown on good soil and kept well-watered. Sprinkle it with a tiny bit of sugar to help bring out the flavor. It’s the best pickling cucumber I’ve found. Finally, it’s the most prolific of the ones I’ve grown and rarely has aphid problems.

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Dried Bean Recipes


Fasuoli cu L’accia (Bean and Celery Soup)

  • 1 pound dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large bunch of celery, about 1½ lbs, coarsely chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Two tablespoons of sea salt

Sauté the chopped onion in a large pot over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add 10 cups of water to the pot with the onion and bring to a boil. Add the drained soaked beans and bring back to a boil. Turn down the heat and continue to cook the beans at a simmer for about 15 minutes. At this point add the chopped celery. Continue cooking for another 45 minutes to an hour or until the beans are soft and fully cooked. The soup should be thick and creamy. Add the salt and taste to see if additional salt is needed. If you like, place a slice of toasted bread at the bottom of your bowl and ladle the soup on top of the bread. Drizzle generously with some extra virgin olive oil before serving.

Zuppa Con L’Osso del Prosciutto

  • 1 cup dried white or cranberry/Borlotto beans
  • 2 quarts water or pork broth
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, with their leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 ham bone, 1 pork rib, or 1/4 lb. salt pork
  • 3 cups canned Italian tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup small, tubular macaroni
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
  • Handful of finely chopped fresh, flat-leaved parsley

Bring the dried beans and 2 quarts of water to a boil over high heat; let boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let beans soak for 1 hour. While beans are soaking, finely chop the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot and sauté the onion over medium heat until lightly colored. Add the carrots, celery, and garlic plus ham bone, pork rib or salt pork and continue sautéeing for about 5-10 minutes. Then add chopped tomatoes and simmer 10 minutes. Once the beans have soaked for an hour, drain them, making sure to save the bean water. Add enough additional cold water to make 2 quarts. Then add beans and the 2 quarts of bean water to the vegetables in the stockpot. Bring contents of stockpot to a boil, then cover and cook over low heat for about 50 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Remove ham bone, pork rib or salt pork. Cut meat from bone and return it to the soup.

Black Bean and Millet Salad

  • 1 cup uncooked millet
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups cooked black beans
  • 2 large chopped tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp cumin

Cook the millet in 3 cups of water until all water is absorbed, 30-45 minutes. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool slightly. In a very large bowl, combine millet, black beans, tomatoes, and onion. Peel several strips from the cucumber (it should look striped) and cut it lengthwise into four pieces. Remove the seedy part from the pieces and cut them into 1/2 inch slices. Add the cucumber to the salad. Mix all dressing ingredients until well-blended. Pour over the salad and toss to blend. Cover and refrigerate until the salad is very well chilled. Serve on lettuce leaves or stuff into pita breads.

Baked Beans with Rice

  • 4 cups navy beans
  • ½ pound salt pork
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup rice (cooked)

Soak beans overnight. In the morning put them into a saucepan and cook them with the pork slowly until they are tender. Remove pork, drain the beans, turn them into baking dish, and add the rice. Cook 30 minutes without stirring, so that the rice will remain on top. Cover to prevent rice from burning.

Refried Beans

  • 3 cups cooked beans (pintos are traditional)
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth or bean cooking water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 slices finely chopped bacon
  • 1 small minced onion
  • 1 jalapeno chile, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 medium pressed garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbs minced cilantro
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice

Puree 2 cups beans in food processor, add last cup and pulse until chunky. Or for a more traditional texture, mash the beans with a potato masher. Cook bacon until crisp, remove and reserve. Cook onion, chile and cumin in bacon fat until onion is softened. Stir in garlic, cook 30 seconds, stir in beans, cook and stir 4 to 6 minutes. Add cilantro and lime juice, sprinkle with bacon.

Rice and Black Bean Salad

  • 2/3 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon diced jalapeno peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

Place rice and water in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring the water to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer the rice, uncovered, until the water level is even with the rice. Continue to cook uncovered until the surface of the rice begins to develop craters. Turn the heat to its lowest setting (you may need to use a flame tamer) and cook, covered, until the rice is tender. On my stove that’s about an hour. Remove from heat and chill. Mix salad ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients. Pour over rice mixture and toss. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Top with avocado just before serving.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Beans

  • 1 onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 4 cups water, plus additional hot water as needed
  • 1 lb dried navy beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbs barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 tbs prepared brown mustard
  • hot sauce
  • salt and pepper

Saute onion, garlic and oil, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker. Stir water, beans, 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, coffee, sugar, and bacon slices into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beans are tender, 9-11 hours on low, or 5-7 on high. Discard bacon slices. Stir in remaining 2 tbs barbecue sauce and mustard and let sit until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste and serve. This dish can be held on warm setting for 1 to 3 hours before serving. Loosen with additional hot water as needed before serving.

Slow Cooker Sausage, Spinach and White Bean Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • about 12 ounces smoked andouille sausage, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cups cooked Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leave
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups baby spinach

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage, and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Place sausage, garlic, onion, carrots, celery, beans, oregano and bay leaves into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in chicken broth and 2 cups water until well combined; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours. Stir in spinach until wilted. Serve immediately.

US Senate Navy Bean Soup (from Cook’s Illustrated)

  • ½ bay leaf (original recipe called for two, but I don’t like bay that much)
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 fresh parsley stems plus
  • 1 ½ Tbs minced leaves
  • 1 pound navy beans, washed and picked over
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 medium onion chopped fine
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped fine
  • 1 medium celery stalk, chopped fine
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Tie fresh herbs together. Combine herbs, ham hock, beans and 1 ½ tsp salt with four quarts cold water; bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer about 2 hours. Heat butter in skillet, saute chopped veggies until soft; add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Remove herb bundle and ham hock from beans, smash some beans to thicken soup; remove and mince meat, then return to bean pot. Add vegetables and simmer about 30 minutes. Stir in parsley and lemon, add salt and pepper.

Neck Bones and Beans

  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon rubbed sage
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 pounds pork neck bones
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 16 ounces dried white beans
  • 10 cups water, divided

Pork neck bones are the sort of thing you only have in the freezer if you raise your own meat. Too finicky to cut off the bone for sausage, so many butchers just throw them away. This recipe makes use of these under-appreciated cuts so nothing goes to waste. Combine the garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, sage, nutmeg, seasoned salt, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub 3/4 of this mixture into the pork neck bones; set the neck bones and remaining seasoning aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and bell pepper; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the neck bones; reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, adding water as needed to keep the meat and vegetables from scorching. Meanwhile, place the beans into a large pot and pour in 8 cups of water; bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn off the heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour. After the beans have stood for 1 hour, drain and rinse. Return the beans to the pot and pour in 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then stir in the pork and vegetables, and the remaining spice mixture. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender and the pork is falling off the bones, about 30 minutes. Although the original recipe doesn’t call for it, I allow the soup to cool so I can take the meat off the bones and discard the bones. Otherwise you’re risking a small bone chunk cutting your gums or tongue. The soup also has a deeper flavor when served on the second day; don’t boil, just warm gently until piping hot.

Beans, Cabbage and Smoked Sausage

  • 16 ounces white beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 8 cups water
  • 5 cups shredded cabbage
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, sliced

Combine the beans, ham hocks, water, cabbage and butter in a large pot.. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and set a lid on top but leave a crack for steam. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the lid, add the tomatoes and sausage; simmer with the lid on until beans are completely tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Sausage, Kale and White Bean Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces cured Spanish chorizo, casing removed if needed, thinly sliced
  • 1 small bunch kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Lemon wedges (for serving)

Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and chorizo is golden, 6–8 minutes. Add kale and cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add beans and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors meld, 15–20 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Divide soup among bowls, top with parsley, and serve with lemon wedges alongside for squeezing over.

Sausage, Greens and Beans Pasta

  • ⅓ cup olive oil2 sprigs rosemary8 ounces spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas or cannellini, rinsed, patted dry
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 12 ounces paccheri, rigatoni, or other large tubular pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 cups (lightly packed) torn escarole, kale, or Swiss chard leaves
  • ¾ cup finely grated Parmesan, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Fry rosemary, turning, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Add sausage to same pot and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add chickpeas to pot and cook, tossing occasionally and mashing some chickpeas with spoon, until browned in spots, about 5 minutes. Transfer about half of chickpeas to plate with sausage. Add wine to pot, bring to a boil, and cook until liquid is almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions. Using a spider or a slotted spoon, transfer pasta to pot with chickpeas and add escarole and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Cook, tossing often, until escarole is wilted, pasta is al dente, and sauce is thickened, about 4 minutes. Add another ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid, then gradually add ½ cup cheese, tossing until melted and dissolved into a luxurious, glossy sauce. Thin with more pasta cooking liquid if needed. Season with pepper, and more salt if needed. Add butter and toss to combine, then mix in reserved sausage and chickpeas. Divide pasta among bowls. Crumble rosemary over top and sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup cheese.

Garlic Shrimp and White Beans

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 2 dried chiles de árbol
  • 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
  • 1 /4 cups chopped tomato (about 8 ounces)
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 cups cooked white beans (such as cannellini), rinsed, drained
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Grilled bread (optional)

Preheat broiler. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add 1 garlic clove, chiles, and bay leaf and cook, stirring constantly, just until fragrant, 1–2 minutes (do not allow garlic to burn). Add tomato; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring and smashing tomato with the back of a wooden spoon, until tomato is completely broken down, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until paste is deep red and caramelized, 3–4 minutes. Stir in beans and broth. Bring to a brisk simmer and cook until juices are slightly reduced and thickened, 3–4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine remaining 2 garlic cloves, 2 Tbsp. oil, shrimp, and paprika in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat shrimp. Scatter shrimp over beans in an even layer. Broil until shrimp are golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Drizzle remaining 2 Tbsp. oil over shrimp and beans; garnish with parsley. Serve with bread, if desired.

Boston Baked Beans, Version I

  • 1 pound small navy beans
  • 3/4 pound salt pork, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup catsup

Place beans in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil; cook 30 minutes. Drain beans; save liquid. Place in bean pot. Add other ingredients; mix well. Pour in liquid. Bake covered in preheated 200°F oven for 12 hours; remove lid. Pour in catsup; bake for 30 minutes longer.

Boston Baked Beans Version II

  • 2 pounds dried pinto or navy beans
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 tablespoon plus
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 4 cups canned plum tomatoes, seeded and crushed
  • 2 dried bay leaves1 tablespoon plus
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion (about 1 pound), peeled, halved
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 12 ounces salt pork

Soak the beans in cold water overnight in a large container. Drain in a colander. Begin cooking at least seven hours before you plan to eat. Heat oven to 300°F. In a small saucepan, combine molasses, mustard, brown sugar, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Stud the onion halves with the cloves, and place in the bottom of a terra-cotta bean pot or Dutch oven. Score the salt pork 1/4 inch deep 1 inch apart, and slice into two even pieces. Transfer to the bean pot. Add the soaked beans. Pour the molasses mixture over beans, stir, and cover. The liquid should cover the beans by 1/2 inch. Add more water if necessary. Transfer to oven to bake, without stirring, until the beans are tender and the liquid has thickened, about 6 hours. Check the beans every 45 minutes, adding more hot water if necessary to keep beans slightly soupy at all times. For the last 50 to 60 minutes of cooking, uncover beans, and, using tongs or a long fork, pull the pork to the surface. Remove from oven, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve.

Boston Baked Beans, Version III

  • 1 pound dried small white beans (about 2 cups), such as navy beans
  • Kosher salt
  • Assorted peeled, halved, and trimmed aromatic vegetables (such as 1 yellow onion, 1 carrot, and 2 cloves garlic)
  • 2 sprigs of a woodsy herb (such as rosemary, sage, and/or thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon or brown mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound salt pork or slab bacon, rinsed of excess salt if necessary and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • Apple cider vinegar, to taste

Cover beans with cold water by several inches and stir in 1 tablespoon salt. Let beans soak at least 12 hours and up to 1 day. Drain and rinse. Combine beans with aromatic vegetables, herbs and bay leaf in a large pot and cover with water by several inches. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, topping up with water as necessary, until beans are fully tender, about 45 minutes. Using tongs, discard vegetables and aromatics. Meanwhile, pour molasses into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Add mustard, a very generous dose of freshly ground black pepper (let it rain!), and a pinch of salt. Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid. Add enough bean-cooking liquid to molasses mixture to bring the volume up to 2 cups and stir until molasses is completely dissolved. Reserve remaining bean-cooking liquid. Preheat oven to 325°F. Cook pork in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and pork is beginning to lightly brown, about 4 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring, until onion is very tender and just beginning to turn golden, about 6 minutes. Add beans to pot. Add bean water/molasses mixture and stir well to combine. Add enough reserved bean-cooking water to just barely cover beans, then stir once more, leveling out beans so that none are sticking up above the liquid level. Bring to a simmer. Transfer beans to oven and bake, uncovered, until beans are extremely tender but still mostly whole, with only a small fraction beginning to burst, about 4 hours. Check beans once or twice per hour during baking, adding remaining bean-cooking liquid as needed to prevent the beans on the surface from drying out. If you run out of bean liquid use boiling water. Stir beans twice during the baking process to submerge the top ones, leveling them out each time; over time, a dark, browned crust will form on the surface of the beans (this is good). The goal throughout is to keep the liquid level just high enough that the upper beans don’t desiccate, but not so high that the surface doesn’t brown. Stop adding liquid during the last hour of baking unless the level becomes perilously low. Remove beans from oven and stir them very well. The sauce should form into a thickened, starchy glaze. If it’s too dry, add boiling water sparingly until a glaze is achieved; if it’s too wet, simmer briefly on the stovetop until reduced to desired consistency. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If beans are too sweet for your taste, a small splash of cider vinegar can help balance the flavor. Keep warm until ready to serve. Beans can be refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for three to four months. Reheat in a saucepan, adding water gradually as needed to loosen them back up.

Mung Bean Pancakes

  • ½ cup peeled and split mung beans, soaked in warm water for at least two hours
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon doenjang or brown miso
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup of chopped chives (scallions and leeks are good, too)
  • 1 cup of shredded carrot
  • Coconut oil for pan-frying
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¾ teaspoon sugar ¾ teaspoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) or ½ teaspoon common red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Do yourself a favor and buy the peeled, split mung beans rather than unpeeled. It will save you the step of peeling them. To peel your own, soak in cool water for a few hours until you can rub the skins off by rolling them between finger and thumb. Drain, place in a food processor with twice as much water as beans. Pulse a few time, then drain in a large-holed colander. Repeat until the skins have been washed off. Rinse your split mung beans and soak for a few hours to tenderize (skip this step if you peeled your own). Drain the beans and put in a blender or food processor with the water, doenjang or miso, and sugar. Blend until the beans are broken up into little bits (it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth). Then add the brown rice flour and blend again just to combine. Pour the thick, yet slightly runny, mixture into a bowl and set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat for about a minute then add 2 teaspoons oil to the pan. Using your fingers, put a mound of chives into the pan for each pancake. Top the chives with another pinch of carrots. Finally, using a tablespoon, put 1 tablespoon of the pancake batter onto the chive and carrot mounds. Swirl the pan gently to redistribute the oil and cook the pancakes until the edges look browned and crisp. Take a peek under one to see how far along they are. When sufficiently brown, flip the pancakes and cook on the other side until browned. After they are done, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil. Repeat the process until you are done with the batter, replenishing the oil in the pan as needed. Make the dipping sauce by mixing all the ingredients together. Serve hot.


  • 3 cups cooked, drained garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons unrefined sea salt
  • 1/4 cup whey
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cumin, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons filtered water, or more as needed

Soak beans for 12 hours. Drain. Cover the “soaked” beans with fresh water and cook in the crock pot on low all day – about 6 to 8 hours. Place the garlic a food processor and pulse to mince. Add in the beans, lemon juice, sea salt, whey, cumin and cayenne. Process until a paste forms. Add water, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Transfer bean mixture to a 1-quart wide mouth jar. Place lid (preferably air-lock lid) on the jar tightly. If using air-lock fill with water according to instructions. Allow to ferment at room temperature for 3 days. Remove air-lock lid, if using, and replace with storage lid — transfer to cold storage. Serve at room temperature. For a nice presentation, drizzle dip with olive oil and/or sesame oil. (a light dusting of paprika on top also makes a lovely addition.) Serve with fresh veggies and/or pita chips.


  • 12 ounces ground pork
  • 8 ounces ground chuck
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 teaspoons New Mexican chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 6 cups beef broth, warmed
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cups dried pinto beans, picked over and rinsed, then soaked overnight
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Garnishes (optional) shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, sour cream

Cook the ground pork and beef until the meat is well browned, about 8 minutes. Drain the meat in colander and put it in a 6-quart slow cooker or large saucepan. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the tomato paste, chile powder, cumin, oregano, and paprika. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add one cup broth, bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until reduced by half, 5 minutes. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker or saucepan. Add remaining beef broth, onion, beans, salt and pepper. Set the cooker to high heat and cook for 8 hours or simmer on stovetop at the lowest setting.

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Shell Bean Recipes



  • 3 medium ears fresh corn
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen lima beans
  • ¼ tsp salt-packed
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh parsley leaves

Cut kernels from cobs and scrape cobs with back of knife. Melt butter until foaming subsides. Saute onion until soft, stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds. Stir in remaining ingredients except parsley, cook about five minutes, then stir in parsley and serve.

Minestrone (I think this one was from Martha Rose Shulman’s Mediterranean Light cookbook)

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 large or 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, choppedSalt
  • 1/2 small head green or savoy cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 6 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed2 quarts water or chicken broth
  • 2 boiling potatoes, diced1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes, with liquid, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 (2 1/2 x1 1/2-inch) piece Parmesan rind
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • Few sprigs each thyme and parsley
  • 2 cups cooked cannellini or Great Northern beans (soak overnight, then cook in water for about two hours)
  • 1/4 pound Swiss chard, stemmed, washed well and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup pasta, such as elbow macaroni, small shells or broken spaghetti
  • 1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 pound fresh shelled beans (Borlotto is the classic variety)
  • 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven and add the onions. Cook, stirring, until they begin to soften. Add the leeks. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender and translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and a generous pinch of salt, and continue to cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and the garlic, add a little more salt, and cook until the cabbage has wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the water, potatoes, canned tomatoes with liquid and oregano. Bring to a boil. Tie the Parmesan rind, bay leaf, thyme and parsley sprigs together with kitchen string, or tie in cheesecloth, and add to the pot. Add salt to taste (at least 2 teaspoons), reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Stir the cooked beans into the soup, then add the greens and the pasta. Five minutes later, add the peas, shell and green beans. Simmer until the pasta is cooked al dente, about five minutes more. Remove the Parmesan rind bundle, stir in the chopped parsley and remove from the heat. Serve in wide soup bowls, with a tablespoon of Parmesan sprinkled over the top.

Bahgali Polo

  • 2 ½ pounds basmati white rice
  • 10 ounces fresh shell beans (favas are commonly used)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds lamb, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup butter, divided
  • 2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 5 tablespoons dried dill weed, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 pint plain yogurt

Thoroughly rinse rice and transfer to a large bowl. Pour enough water over the rice to cover by a few inches and soak for 1 hour; drain. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Cook beans in boiling water until tender, 7 to 10 minutes; drain. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt and rice to the boiling water and cook until rice is partially softened, about 11 minutes; drain. Season lamb with cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir lamb in melted butter until completely browned, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer lamb to a bowl. Cook and stir onion in skillet until translucent, about 7 minutes. Return lamb to skillet; add dill and cooked shell beans. Remove skillet from heat. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon hot water. Spoon about 1/3 the partially cooked rice into the saucepan. Layer about half the lamb mixture over the rice layer. Repeat layering 1/2 the remaining rice, the remaining lamb mixture, and finishing with the remaining rice. Cut the remaining 3 tablespoons butter into cubes and arrange atop the top rice layer. Place a cover on the saucepan, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the rice is completely tender, about 30 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and let the mixture cool for 10 minutes before serving with yogurt.

Fresh Shell Beans with Buttered Crumbs and Rosemary (from Mariquita Farms)

  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, packed firmly
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds shelling beans, fresh out of their shell
  • 2 tsp melted butter
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice

Melt butter in skillet over low heat. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until they are golden brown. Transfer to a bowl. Blend parsley and rosemary together, then combine with the crumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Steam the beans until just tender. Remove to a warm plate and stir in the melted butter and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with the breadcrumb mixture and serve.

Fresh Shell Bean & Basil Soup (from Mariquita Farms)

  • 6 slices chewy, country-style bread
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 3-4 cups fresh shelled beans
  • ½ bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ pound pencil-thin French haricot vert beans, cut into 2″ lengths (optional)
  • ½ cup basil leaves
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes Remove from oven and drizzle with olive oil. Return to oven and bake for another 5-10 mins. until toasts are firm and lightly golden. Remove and let cool, then rub both sides of each toast with a garlic clove. Set aside. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the garlic and onion; cook, stirring for a minute or two, until the onion is translucent. Add the chicken broth, beans, bay leaf and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the beans are soft. Taste for salt, adding more is needed. Remove the bay leaf. Remove 1 c. of the beans, puree in a processor or blender, then return them to pot. Add the optional haricot vert and simmer for a few moments, until the haricot vert are just tender. While the beans are cooking, puree the basil and olive oil. Set aside. Place a toast in the bottom of each soup bowl, then ladle in the soup. Add a teaspoon of the basil sauce to each, giving half a stir with the spoon to make a swirl.

Pasta with Fresh Shelling Beans and Broccoli (from Mariquita Farms)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 pounds loosely chopped tomatoes or 3 ½ cups canned diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 pounds shelling beans, shelled and lightly steamed til tender/firm
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 8 ounces orecchiette (little ear-shaped pasta; about 2 cups) or medium pasta shells
  • 1 pound broccoli crowns, separated into small florets (about 5 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; stir 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes with juices and 1/4 cup water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; boil gently until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in beans and basil. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook orecchiette pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 15 minutes. Add broccoli florets; cook until pasta is just tender but still firm to bite and broccoli florets are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes longer. Ladle out 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and reserve. Drain orecchiette and broccoli florets; return to pot. Add tomatoes and reserved pasta cooking water to pasta and toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer pasta to bowl. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Pasta Salad with Summer Beans and Herbs (from Williams Sonoma Salad of the Day)

  • 3/4 lb. fusilli pasta
  • 6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. assorted snap beans, such as green beans, yellow wax beans and haricots verts, stem ends trimmed
  • 2 lb. fresh shelling beans of choice, shelled
  • 5 Tbs. red wine vinegar2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta, stir well and boil until al dente. Using a strainer, scoop out the pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Immediately add 1 Tbs. of the olive oil and toss well. Cover and refrigerate to cool. Return the water to a boil. Add the snap beans and boil until tender, 5 to 6 minutes (3 to 4 minutes for haricots verts). Scoop out with the strainer and rinse under cold water to halt the cooking. Add the beans to the pasta in the refrigerator. Return the water to a boil. Add the shelling beans and boil until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Scoop out, rinse and add to the pasta and snap beans. Let cool completely in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Whisk the remaining 5 Tbs. olive oil, vinegar and garlic in a large bowl. Pour over the pasta and beans and add the parsley, mint and oregano. Toss well. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Fresh Shell Bean and Sage Spread

  • 1 pound fresh shell beans (about 2 cups shelled)
  • 1 fresh sage leaf, plus
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Lemon juice to taste (about 1/2 a lemon)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove beans from pods. Place in a saucepan with sage leaf, thyme sprig, and enough water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until beans are tender and able to be mashed with a fork, about 40 minutes. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking water and discarding the herbs. Return beans to the saucepan or a bowl, add olive oil and 1/4 cup of the cooking water, and coarsely mash with a fork or potato masher. Add chopped sage, onions, and garlic and continue to mash until combined. If necessary, add more cooking water or olive oil to reach desired consistency. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Spread on bread, celery sticks or sliced cucumbers or thin with more water/oil to the right consistency for a dip.

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