Piled high with multiple mounds on display, 2 Peas in a Pod Farm of Arroyo Grande is actively harvesting its bean fields.
These are not the typical fresh green beans or yellow wax beans that you may be expecting, but rather a bounty of fresh shelling beans in an array of shapes, sizes and colors. Remaining on the plants just long enough for the beans encased within the fibrous pods to fully mature, these beans will inevitably need to be shelled, with the pods discarded. Then they’re simmered down until tender and delicious.
While fresh shelling beans are usually treated similar to that of the standard dried beans you find in those bulk bins or bags at the grocery store, these are just soft enough to eat raw out of the pods. However, the uncooked beans can be a little on the astringent side.
Delivering a crunchy texture, similar to that of raw coconut but less moist, they really are best when cooked. Because they have yet to fully cure, it takes about half the time to transform them from crunchy to a soft creamy bean.
The process of shelling them yourself before cooking can be quite rewarding. It’s a fun project my 3-year-old and I took on this week while my oldest son was making his way through a first-grade remote learning session.
With about a half-dozen varieties on display at any given Saturday Santa Barbara farmers’ market, this week I was drawn to the large black coco beans. They’re slow cooked and served on a simple plate with brown rice, avocado, sliced radishes and homemade salsa. Sometimes a simple meal is the way to go.
Simmered Fresh-Shelled Coco Beans
1 pound coco shelling beans (yields about a half-pound of beans once shelled)
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Shell your beans and compost the pods. Rinse and place in a pot. Add your remaining ingredients, then fill the pot with water about 3 inches above ingredients.
You can also use chicken or vegetable broth if desired. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 35 minutes or until then beans are tender and creamy. Cooking time may vary. Serve with a side of cooked rice, avocado, sliced radishes and salsa.
Yield: Serves 2.