Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Fabaceae Family: Cosmopolitan Beans

This post is all about beans... hopefully, it will be more interesting or useful than a hill of beans.
The Fabaceae is the bean family, which includes, among many others, the pea, the green bean, the lentil, the soybean, the fava bean, the black bean, the chickpea, and the peanut.

Snow peas in a tangle of vines
The bean family is considered "cosmopolitan"because these plants are found throughout the world. The bean family is extremely important to many food cultures, providing a wonderful source of vegetable protein that is portable, storable and flexible. By flexible, I mean that there is a wide variety of ways that beans can be prepared - beans can be eaten raw, dried and then cooked, smushed into hummus or peanut butter, ground into flour, fermented into tofu, tempeh, soy sauce and miso, and even concocted into red-bean ice cream.

Personally, I prefer fresh green beans to dried beans, and so I am devoting a good amount of space in the garden for both bush beans and pole beans (Rattlesnake and Kentucky Wonder). However, if I don't quite get to all the Rattlesnake beans in time, I've read that these taste something like pinto beans when dried and cooked. I'm also planning to grow a lot of snowpeas, as these flat green pods are a favorite in our household - and they freeze really well. Depending on space constraints and my ambition, maybe I will plant green shelling peas, as you really can't have pasta primavera or chicken pot pie without peas. This year will be the first year for trying to grow soybeans for edamame-eating purposes; I've ordered the Beer Friend variety from Fedco. (How could you not love a soybean that is a friend of beer?)

Hard to believe my garden will look like this in 3 short months.

For Dark Days Week 14, our challenge within a challenge is to cook a vegetarian meal. While the easy way out would have been to make this egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, I worked with my husband to make a green bean noodle casserole with mushroom sauce. I need to work on my egg noodle-making - the first time was not the charm.

Local ingredients - eggs, wild mushrooms, onions, shallots, butter and milk.
Flour from King Arthur Flour (local company, but grains grown in the Midwest)
Frozen green beans from Trader Joe's - I thought I had some garden beans left from last summer, but I couldn't find them in the chest freezer.

1 comment:

  1. Beans...they're the musical fruit!!!!

    Sorry Rach, I couldn't help myself on this one.