Last week, Richard and I worked at the farm and it was a nice change of pace to be able to cultivate semi-dry soil. I replaced about twenty dead tomato and pepper plants with others I started from seed weeks ago and set out the last eggplants, in hopes they will be strong enough to withstand flea beetle attacks. Just before (another) thunderstorm blew in, we also planted two rows of Granny’s beans. Mountain White Half-Runner might be the name most people associate with this type of bean, but I know them as “Granny’s Beans” and believe they are truly magic.
I first planted Granny’s saved seeds, stored in my parents’ freezer since Granny’s death, in 1986, in 2009. Impressed by the vigor of those plants and the huge yield, I am now a believer in the power of these special seeds and I save them every year. While I was picking some of Granny’s beans, planted on Good Friday, I marveled at the sweet taste of the fresh bean pod I popped into my mouth and realized these beans are as versatile as any crop that can be grown. Picked young, they are wonderful additions to salads, both raw and lightly steamed. They may be pickled, cooked as snap beans or shelled when they are mature. Although I prefer to can Granny’s Beans, they may also be frozen and the shelled beans are easy to dry for long-term storage. The blossoms are even delightfully tasty, not to mention beautiful!
After I picked beans, I walked to another field, where Granny’s squash (also grown from her saved seeds) are growing, I was thrilled to find a small straightneck, just ready to be picked. On the same plant, several beautiful yellow blossoms were in full bloom and I plucked a few to take home. Squash and beans are a traditional Southern food combination and cooks often add summer squash and potatoes to a pot of cooked beans for a delicious, one-dish meal.
When I looked at the squash blossoms and fresh beans in my basket, I decided to try a new recipe. With a nod to that squash/bean pot dish and because I love stuffed squash blossoms, I was inspired to make hummus from the shelled fresh beans and serve it as a stuffing for the blossoms. Just before leaving the farm, I ran back to the bean row to pick a few blossoms to use as a garnish and to add even more fresh bean flavor.
Usually, I “field dress” squash blossoms while I am in the garden, but since my hands were pretty dirty from the still damp soil, I removed the stamens back home in my kitchen. Although edible, the stamens are bitter and it is better to remove them before using squash blossoms. After the blossoms were cleaned, I put them on a paper towel while I made the hummus.
“Magic bean” hummus just might be the best hummus I ever tasted and the fresh, shelled beans were beautiful shades of green and white. If you try this recipe, use only a tiny bit of salt. After making the hummus, you can always add more, to taste, but the heat of the red pepper is really the flavor pop in this dish. Because I am just that “crazy,” I used one of the dried peppers Granny shared with my mother. (See post from April 12th) Probably close to thirty years it has been stored in the blue glass jar and still packs a punch. This dish was truly a Granny Tribute. Bon Appetit!
Magic Bean Hummus
1/3 cup fresh shelled white beans
½ clove garlic, minced (I used fresh from the garden, but any garlic will work)
1 teaspoon tahini
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp hot pepper flakes
Pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Add a small pinch of salt (I used French Grey sea salt) to beans in a pot. Add water to cover and gently boil for about 3-5 minutes, until beans are tender. Drain water from beans and place slightly cooled beans in a blender or food processor. Add garlic, lemon juice, tahini, salt and red pepper. Blend ingredients until smooth. Add olive oil in a steady, thin stream while blender or processor is working until hummus is desired consistency. For as little waste as possible, use a plastic spatula to remove hummus.
Stuffed Squash Blossoms
Gently clean (if necessary) four squash blossoms and remove stamens from the centers of each.
Fill a plastic, zip lock bag with hummus and cut a small hole in one corner. Squeezing the bag, pipe mixture into the center of each blossom. Garnish with fresh bean blossoms. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (May be made up to one day before serving.)