Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cranberry Beans

Cranberry Beans are known for their creamy texture with a flavor similar to chestnuts. Cranberry beans are rounded with red specks, which disappear on cooking. These beans are a favorite in northern Italy and Spain. You can find them fresh in their pods in Autumn. They also freeze well. - 5 a Day

According to the USDA, the American 'cranberry bean' is the same bean as the Italian 'borlotti' and, as a matter of fact, a large percentage of the 'borlotti' beans sold in Italy are actually 'cranberry beans' imported from the U.S.

Another name for this bean in the U.S. is 'French horticultural bean'.

If you can't locate cranberry beans, an acceptable substitute is the pinto bean, and a second (but not as close) substitute would be red kidney beans.

These beans are related to the Tongues of Fire Beans. Very popular for Spanish, Italian and Portuguese dishes. They are ivory in color with red markings, sometimes red with ivory markings.
(Purcell Mountain Farms)

Cranberry Bean Earthquake Salad (I was serving this when a 5.6 tremor hit San Jose, so it will from here on be reverenced this way in our house, sounds better than the Loma Prieta Flashback side dish doesn't it?)

1 pound dried Cranberry Beans (presoaked)
1 Large globe eggplant Medium Dice
1 Onion Medium Dice
2-3 Cloves garlic minced
4 Medium Tomatoes coarsely diced
8-10 Each Country Mixed Olives (or kalamatas) coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons Red Wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon each chopped fresh basil, thyme, and oregano

Place Cranberry beans in a pot of water and bring to a boil.

Turn down to simmer for 20 minutes and then drain.

While the beans finish simmering, heat about 3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and brown the eggplant.

Add the Onion and cook until it softens, add the garlic and cook until onions are soft and garlic is fragrant.

Turn up the heat and add Cranberry Beans, tomatoes, olive mix, vinegar, and herbs. Stir well, turn down to simmer for 10 minutes and serve.

Great hot as a side dish or cold as a salad.

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