Cranberry beans with lemon couscous

September 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

Where did the summer go? All that free time that I used for cooking and hanging out vanished with the sudden arrival of autumn, with its early dusk and brisk winds and schoolwork. Two weeks after the start of classes I realized I hadn’t even posted my last end-of-summer recipes! Thankfully though, these cranberry beans with lemon couscous are a great way to enjoy the last beans of summer, yet are still hearty enough to warm up with on a cool early-fall evening. Of course, if you don’t have fresh beans either from your garden or the farmer’s market, dried beans can easily be substituted; just be sure to soak them overnight.

Cranberry beans are, I think, named for their beautiful reddish-veering-on-fuchsia coloring. Sadly it cooks out, but peeling the beans is very simple, if time-consuming, so I recommend asking someone to help. Or sip a glass of wine while shelling; it seems very pastoral and idyllic…or that might just be the wine talking! Anyway, once the shelling is done, these beans go great with lots of dishes and are quite simple to prepare. If you like to cook in batches, these two dishes store well and go alongside lots of other dishes, or the beans and couscous can be the star in their own right.

So, to begin, you will need beans. I used one pint of beans, shucked. For dried beans, soak about ten to twelve ounces, or a few loose handfuls.

Into the pot add a few sprigs of rosemary, a potato, and a few cloves of garlic. If you want more of a garlicky taste, add in additional garlic. You could also try this with sage or bay and thyme or any other woody herb that catches your fancy. Cover the beans with water.

Slowly bring the beans to a simmer and let cook for about fifty minutes or so over medium-low heat (a gentle simmer).

Then, once the beans are done, remove the potato and the garlic and the herbs; reserve the garlic and potato, but discard the herbs.

Smush up the potato after discarding its skin, and then smush the garlic after squeezing the it out of its papery skins.

Then, add the potato-garlic mixture back into the pot along with some salt and pepper.

Stir everything together.

Meanwhile, for the couscous, boil a bit less than two cups of water with one tablespoon of butter, a half teaspoon of salt, and then squeeze in the juice of half a lemon plus a teaspoon of lemon zest (from one lemon). Pour in a cup and 3/4 of whole-wheat couscous and let sit for five minutes with the lid on. Fluff the couscous with a fork.

Of course, I completely forgot to take a picture of the couscous without the beans. Sorry!

Anyways, top the couscous with the beans and serve, with a salad if you like. Or serve alongside a roast as a nice side dish.

Or if you’re feeling fancy, the next post will be the recipe for pan-fried tilapia with shallots shown here with the beans and couscous.

Cranberry beans

Adapted from Jamie at Home

Serves four

Ingredients

  • One pint cranberry beans, shelled, or 10-12 ounces dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight
  • A few sprigs rosemary (or other woody herbs)
  • Three cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • One small potato, unpeeled
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot combine a few sprigs of rosemary, a potato, the shelled beans, and the garlic cloves. Cover the beans with water.

2. Bring the beans to a simmer and let cook for about fifty minutes or so over medium-low heat, or a gentle simmer.

3. Once the beans are soft, remove the potato and the garlic and the herbs; reserve the garlic and potato, but discard the herbs. Break up the potato and discard its skin, and squeeze the garlic out of the papery skins. Mash the potato and garlic together.

4. Stir beans and potato-garlic mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Note: the cranberry beans are gluten-free; do not serve alongside couscous!

Lemon whole-wheat couscous

Serves four

Ingredients

  • One and 3/4 cup whole-wheat couscous
  • One tablespoon of butter
  • Half teaspoon salt
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • A teaspoon lemon zest (from one lemon)

1. Combine two cups of water with butter, salt, and the juice of half a lemon plus a teaspoon of lemon zest (from one lemon). Bring to a boil.

2. Pour in couscous and let sit for five minutes with the lid on. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Serve warm, topped with beans. Enjoy!

Note: for vegan couscous, swap olive oil for butter.

Bibliography

Oliver, Jamie. “Humble Home-cooked Beans.” Jamie at Home. New York: Hyperion, 2007 (124).

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