This time of year I often find that I get so focused on all of the wonderful diversity of freshly harvested stone fruit that transitions into our farmers’ markets on a weekly basis that many of the other seasonal offerings seem to get lost in the mix.
This week, I decided to hone in on the fresh crop of young fresh beans, which included bringing home bags full of everything from the petite French beans (haricots verts), as well as some yellow and purple green beans. I also snatched up some broader flat Italian beans and a bunch of long slender yardlong beans (aka snake beans). All of these fresh eating beans offered a slightly different flavor and textural experience, and I found a way to incorporate each in at least one meal a day throughout the week.
One of my favorite fresh beans that arrive each year in June from Two Peas in a Pod Farm of Arroyo Grande are dragon tongue beans. Recognized by their pale yellow pods with a splash of purple on both sides, these beans are relatively broad, yet thin and snappy. Delivering mild notes of sweetness, dragon tongue beans are excellent in both fresh and cooked preparations.
Whether you’re making a blanched bean salad tossed with walnuts and cherry tomatoes, doing a quick sauté in olive oil and garlic, or adding beans to soups and stews, fresh beans are a healthy addition to an array of meals. This week I prepared some quick-pickled dragon tongue beans with carrots and onions. I really enjoy pickled beans as a healthy snack, over a mixed green salad or paired with charcuterie platters.
The following dish is really easy to make, and it can be enjoyed for a couple of weeks right out of the refrigerator.
Pickled Dragon Beans with Carrots and Onion
1 pound dragon tongue beans.
2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar. (I also often use apple cider vinegar.)
2 cups water.
1/4 cup sugar.
1/2 teaspoon salt.
4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole.
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds or sticks.
1/2 medium red onion, sliced.
3 sprigs of dill.
2 tablespoon mustard seeds.
Optional 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (for heat). Use fresh jalapeño, sliced thin, instead if it’s available.
Trim the stems off of your dragon tongue beans and set aside. In a pot, add vinegar and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add sugar and salt. Mix until the sugar is fully dissolved and keep the liquid hot.
In 3 sterilized pint jars, add equal amounts of beans, carrots, onion, garlic, dill and mustard seeds. (Add chili flakes and jalapeño as well if desired).
Pour hot pickling liquid into each jar over ingredients, and seal immediately. Let sit at room temperature for at least 45 minutes. Then you can refrigerate it and enjoy it when you’re ready.
For softer pickled beans and carrots, you can simmer the beans in the pickling liquid for 5-10 minutes before adding them to the jars.
Yield: Makes 3 pints.