Beans, Greens and Such

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One of the perks of living in Northern VA is the access to the multiple farmer’s markets and their unique products throughout the week.  Of course, as a foodie, I love checking out these farmers’ market every chance I get.  I’m always on the lookout for the vendors with some unusual and delicious finds.  This weekend I got lucky and found some super cool vegetables that I haven’t seen before – purple carrots, watermelon radishes and fresh cranberry beans.

I was super excited about the cranberry beans because I’ve noticed them in recipes before, but have NEVER seen them in any market, store or specialty shop.  So I grabbed a quart of the un-shelled beans and toted them home.  They’re beautiful beans…really – the pods themselves are marbled magenta, green and brown.  But when you shell them, the large beans are a creamy white color except for a few splashes of bright pink.

To cook the cranberry beans, you just treat them like any other raw bean – stick ’em in a pot covered with water, add any aromatics you want and boil until the beans are tender (about 30 mins).  I chose not to add any aromatics to the pot because I wanted to really taste the actual cranberry bean.  They have a really meaty and earthy flavor and a very creamy texture.  Somewhat similar to a great northern bean.  I decided to add them to one of my all time favorite dishes – my arugula and quinoa salad.

The ingredients in this salad vary depending on whats in season or if I find something cool at the farmer’s market – like my pretty little cranberry beans.  But no matter what I add, I always love the taste and texture of this dish.  There’s a high ratio of quinoa to arugula – which I guess is somewhat unusual for a salad.  But it’s really good, trust me!  It’s super high in fiber and high quality protein from the beans and quinoa.  Plus the amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants would make even the biggest health-nut happy!  It’s a delicious treat that leaves you feeling 100% satisfied.

Here’s my recipe for Arugula and Quinoa with cranberry beans!
Arugula and Quinoa Salad:

  • 1 bag arugula
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh (raw) cranberry beans – or other creamy textured bean
  • Dressing:
    • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 cup good olive oil
    • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
    • 1 tsp agave – or honey, maple syrup or plain old white sugar
    • salt and pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together until well combined.  You may need to re-mix right before dressing the salad to ensure all the ingredients are emulsified.
Preheat the oven to 450 F.  Place the quartered artichoke hearts on a sheet pan and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roasted for 25 minutes or until edges and tips of quartered artichokes start to brown.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, place the arugula, sundried tomatoes, goat cheese, quinoa and cranberry beans.  Once artichokes have finished roasting, add to the arugula mixture.  Slowly add the dressing – don’t dump the whole thing on because you might have too much dressing!  Add just enough for your preferences.  Mix well and serve immediately!

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