Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bean Stalking

Jack – of Fairy Tale fame - would have been intrigued, and would likely be lacing up his boots for a good climb.

It is the last weekend of the summer at Restoration Farm - crisp, but stunningly beautiful. Some leaves are already tinged with gold, but there are hoards of vegetables still to be picked.

“Go over to where the pole beans are planted and look for George,” says Head Grower Dan Holmes. He points towards a jungle of green vines. “George is Caroline’s grandfather. He’s the King of Beans.”

I peek tentatively into the tangled maze. Deep at its core, I can see a kindly older gentleman wearing a baseball cap. “These beans are like Ole Man River,” says George. “They just keep rolling along.” George is the keeper of the pole beans. Periodically, a volunteer will wander by and call “George?” to see if he answers from deep within the Pole Bean kingdom.

I grab a basket and forge in. It is like a topiary gone awry. There are clusters of beans everywhere and at each interval where a pole has been planted, the vines reach into the sky. Perhaps calling them “magic beans” would be an exaggeration, but they are indeed “magical beans.” Each beautiful pod is flecked with purple and some measure six-inches in length.

I pluck the pods by the handful and drop them into the basket. In little time, I have filled more than two baskets, and there are still more beans to pick. Have you ever eaten a bean, fresh off the vine? The snap is startlingly crisp and the taste refreshingly clean and sweet. I must confess that I sneak a quick nibble. No Giant sightings, though.

Members of Restoration Farm each get an allocation of three pounds of beans at the distribution tent. That’s a hill of beans by any measurement. I can think of no better way to celebrate the magic of the Restoration Farm bean harvest than with a sharp and sassy Three-Bean Salad:

Three-Bean Salad (Adapted from 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles)

1 cup cooked cut green beans
¾ cup cooked chickpeas
¾ cup cooked kidney beans
1 purple bell pepper, diced
¼ cup diced red onion
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Toss cut vegetables together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients for dressing, and pour over salad. Toss to combine.

©2009 T.W. Barritt all Rights Reserved


Pamcake Girl said...

When you said you sneaked a quick nibble, I could not help but remember this line from Jack and the Beanstalk:

The man said, "I wonder if you know how many beans make five."
"Two in each hand and one in your mouth," says Jack, as sharp as a needle.

Those stalks and your recipe look great! I am going to try it this week!

Julia said...

Okay... silly questions: are pole beans shelling beans or string beans? Those pods look ginormous.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

When I was growing up, three-bean salad had a bad reputation, something made by combining too many canned beans in a watery dressing. Your bean salad looks vibrant and crunchy, and I can't wait to try it.

Kalyn said...

I love seeing how they grow their beans, and love your salad especially since it has no sugar! This year I grew "bush type" French Beans and just ate the very last of them in a stir-fry. Craving more beans!

veron said...

My favorite version of Jack and the Bean stalk was the one with Mickey mouse. :) Great looking salad there, T.W.

SavoryTv said...

Beautiful plants, you should be very proud!

Helene said...

Thanks for the pics. Wow that look so good.

~~louise~~ said...

Okay, T.W. How in heavens name did you get that first shot of those sky high beans. It looks like a beanie skyscrapers.

I haven't had Three Bean Salad in way to long. Thanks for sharing...

My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a lovely three bean salad. We love beans at our house - any kind - any flavor. I bet you hate to see summer come to an end.