So, I'm just SO EXCITED! Today we picked a big full lug of fresh, shell stage ROCKWELL BEANS! This is, yes, very exciting news! For those of you who don't know what all the hoopla could possibly be about, well the Rockwell Bean is a very rare, very tasty, very beautiful dry bean that town of Coupeville is very proud to call its own. For more on the fascinating history of the Rockwell Bean, check out my webpage - http://willowoodfarm.net/rockwellbean.aspx
Now, before you start dusting off the crockpot, the Rockwell Beans we are currently harvesting are at SHELL BEAN stage.
Most folks may be family with fresh "Cranberry" or "Borlotto" shell beans. This is a nice picture of several kinds, including Tiger Eyes (which I also sell) and some others. But really, almost any variety of bean can be used at the fresh "shell" stage, including the ever famous Rockwell (although granted, some are tasty and prettier than others!). All it means, is that the beans have picked up their form and coloring, yet they are still tender and young. If left to continue maturing on the vine, then the "shell" beans will turn into "dry" bean. But why wait another 3 to 4 weeks when we can enjoy our Rockwell Beans starting now!
At shell bean stage the beans will cook up quickly, in 10-15 minutes, so they are not suited for the long baked bean dishes that we will be enjoying in another month or so. But fresh shell beans are a treat all to themselves and if you have not tried them, well now is the time since they are only available at this stage for a two to three week harvest period. And shell beans are famous very being sweet and creamy - not starchy like a dry bean - with a "melt in your mouth" texture.
To prepare shell beans first shell them from their pods. Once shelled they can be stored for a week in a paper bag in the refrigerator (they can mold easily if not refrigerated, or kept in plastic). Also, they freeze wonderfully, simply blanch them briefly in hot water and pop them into freezer bags for a quick treat later in the season.
We will be bringing recipes to the markets, but here's a quick sampler of a recipe I threw together for a Slow Food potluck meeting in Coupeville this week.
Fresh Shell Bean and Pasta Salad
- About 2 cups of fresh shell beans, shelled from pods (approximately 1 lb of beans in pod)
- 12 oz of dried pasta, some kind of curly shape to hold vinaigrette well
- About 1/2 cup of good quality, extra virgin olive oil
- 3 big cloves of garlic, crushed and minced.
- One med, fine-flavored red onion (like Red Torpedo), or large shallot, sliced thinly.
- Fresh herbs (I used marjoram), chopped
- About tablespoon worth of red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt or fine-quality salt (I used truffle salt), to taste
- 1 cup worth of crumbly goat cheese
To make I simply gently boiled the shell beans (I used a combination of Rockwell beans and other shell beans we also will have available at market!) until tender and then drained them and set aside. Cooked the pasta according to directions, drained and put the pasta in my serving bowl. Then, while the pasta was still hot I added in the garlic, onions, salt to taste and couple tablespoons worth of olive oil and tossed together until it was all coated. Then I gently poured the beans on top of the pasta. I poured the remaining olive oil in a jar, added the red wine vinegar and whisked the two together, and tasted to make sure right balance between oil and vinegar (I didn't want it to strong the vinegar). Crumbled the goat cheese on top of the entire thing and voila - done!
In addition to Rockwell's, we also will have several other kinds of great shell beans to enjoy. As a matter of fact, we have lots of fabulous food this week and this segways quite nicely into the...Here's what we are bringing to the Coupeville and Bayview market list!
From Willowood Farm
- Shell Beans, Shell Beans, Shell Beans! We will have Rockwells, Tiger Eyes, Black Cocos and Arikara Yellows.
- Potatoes - 8 flavors this week!!!!!
- Garlic - 12 flavors this week, (I think...).
- Cabbages - gorgeous red cabbage, flat green cabbage and savoy
- HUGE kohlrabi
- Beautiful gourmet onions
- Head lettuce (not much this week, so get there early is you want some!)
- A new picking of lovely dwarf grey sugar peas
- Dragon Langerie beans
- Summer squash
Wilbur at Prairie Bottom farm forgot to email me his list, so not totally sure, but I know he has some of all the following:
- Baby Spinach
- Gold of Bacau Roma Wax Beans
- Rockwell shell beans
- Summer Squash
- A few Red Kuri winter squash!
- Dill bunches
- Cucumbers for pickling
And probably more too...
A few more things to pass on, my friend Vincent Nattress, a Coupeville grad who went off to become a chef and who recently move back to town with his lovely family, has created a blog about local food issues which I'm having a lot of fun following. This guy really loves eating on the island and I appreciate that! Anyways, he posted a great entry on the abundance of "fallen fruit" this time of year that I thought everybody might enjoy so here is the link - http://pugetsoundbites.wordpress.com
And finally, a great photo of our mixed potatoes for everybody to salivate over...
Thank YOU! For buying and enjoying local food! This farmer is VERY grateful...
Georgie Smith, Farmer
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie