From the Farm – Rosy Smit, Culinary Gardener
Throughout history, and all over the world, dry beans have been a staple food for more than 7000 years. Beans are a legume so they are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil and therefore are an important crop rotation within our certified organic production system in the Camp Korey garden. Dry beans are diverse in flavors, size, colors and shapes but their nutritional composition is very similar. One of the most nutritionally complete foods available, beans are the only food to fit into two food groups on the USDA’s food pyramid: vegetable and protein. They contain macro-nutrients, vitamins, minerals, several types of phytochemicals and are rich in fibers and low in fat.
In the Camp Korey organic garden, we grow many varieties of beans. From bush beans (Royal Burgundy, Provider, Yellow Wax) and pole beans (Scarlet Runner, Rattlesnake, Chinese Red Noodle) to dried beans (Eye of the Goat, Orca, Flambo, Cannellini). Most are grown for inclusion in our camper meal program both fresh and dried, some are grown for demonstration, such as the Chinese Red Noodle beans that grow 2 feet long! Campers help us plant our pole beans, a chance for them to get their hands dirty and learn more about our food cycle program.
To the Table – Executive Chef Tana Mielke
The things that we can do with fresh beans! Pickled “Dilly Beans,” simply blanched for a delicious Salad Nicoise, sautéed with garlic and chili for a delicious side. The options really are endless and let me tell you, our campers love them! Then there are dry beans…purees, soups and chili, wood-fired, salads. Some of the most warming, comfort dishes – oft considered “peasant” dishes – contain beans. Beans are also worldly—France: Cassoulet. England: Baked Beans on Toast. Northern Africa: Lentils. Greece: Gigantes. America: Chili. The best time to curl up with one of these soul warming wonders—winter!
A lot of people are intimidated by cooking dry beans. The evidence is in the fact that when you go to the grocery store and pick up a bag, it is usually covered in dust. Although, including legumes in your diet is super healthy, most canned beans are loaded with sodium and preservatives. Take your healthy eating habits to the next level and cook them at home. It is not only A LOT less expensive, but it is easier than you think! Another tip, for more options and better quality, buy your beans from the bulk foods section of your grocery store.
One of our more popular bean dishes amongst campers is our Chickpea Bravas, a take on the traditional Papas Bravas of Spain. Serve this up with roast chicken, pork loin or have a vegetarian night and let the chickpeas star with a nice winter green salad. One thing is for sure, your camper will be asking for more!
Don’t forget to share your culinary projects with @CampKorey!
Recipes to Share
Tips for Soaking Beans
- Rinse your favorite variety of beans thoroughly and place in a deep storage container. Cover with 2-3 times water. Place in refrigerator overnight. Don’t have time? Cover with hot tap water and place on counter for 30-60 minutes.
- Drain beans.
- Place in large pot, cover with 2 inches cold water and place on stove over medium heat
- Bring up to a simmer and reduce heat. Adding more water if necessary as they cook.
- When beans are not quite tender, add salt.
- Continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, drain.
- Reserve cooking liquid for use in recipes if desired.