Photo: ThinkstockBy Lynn Andriani
If you come across cranberry beans at your greenmarket this week, make room in your basket alongside the peaches and tomatoes. These are some of the sweetest beans you'll ever find, and they're moist, too, which means they cook fairly quickly, in just 10 to 30 minutes. The beautiful legumes--which look like fat string beans, except they're pink- and white-speckled--are in season right now in many parts of the country. It's true that they will lose their gorgeous markings when you cook them, but they'll still taste vibrant and nutty. Also called shell beans or borlotti, they're delicious dressed simply with olive oil and sea salt, but here are six more seasonal preparations to try.
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Cranberry Bean, Cherry Tomato and Cucumber Salad from La Tavola Marche
This pretty salad + crusty bread + a wedge of pecorino = your best lunch of the week.
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Borlotti and Ricotta with Whole Wheat Spaghetti from Found While Walking
Barely a recipe--adjust the proportions to your liking, and toss in your favorite herbs--this pasta dish is fresh and hearty.
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Cranberry Bean Bruschetta from Fresh Brioche
Simmered with garlic and water (plus bacon, a Parmesan rind and/or tomato) and sprinkled with sage, cranberry beans become a perfect topping for slices of toasted baguette.
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Cranberry Bean and Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Gouda from MarcusSamuelsson.com
A no-cook salad dressed in a sweet and salty vinaigrette has an unexpected element: meltingly smooth bites of gouda cheese.
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Fresh Shell Beans Over Polenta from Printer & Piemaker
This minimalist recipe allows for plenty of interpretation. The basics: gently boil the beans with some marjoram, slowly cook onions with thyme, and serve them together over creamy polenta drizzled with a little bit of good olive oil.
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Cranberry Bean Hummus from The Parsley Thief
A cross between hummus and baba ghanoush (thanks to the addition of zucchini), this is a lovely spread for toasted pita bread triangles.
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