Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Flageolets beans à la française







Do you know you've achieved maturity (read: getting old) when you start finding youth endearing? It's a complex feeling, that of endearment, isn't it? It requires distance. And understanding. And there's a quietness, a patience to it too. You can't be endeared in a hurry. You can be endeared, sitting on a bench, watching others chomping at the bit. There's sense memory in endearment. I don't think you can be endeared by something completely unfamiliar. It's endearing because it is familiar, because we've been through the same thing, a long while ago, unaware. Endearment is empathy for the good. You empathize with someone's pain, and you are endeared by their enthusiasm. It is a quiet smile, with just a twinge of sadness to it, of nostalgia. It's looking inward and outward at the same time.

So with age, and motherhood, and life's struggles, I have felt myself getting wiser (let's call it that...) these days, endeared by the very enthusiastic young woman at my workout class, giving it all she's got; by the happy child-less young couple who has lots of time to savor young love; by the new mom in the throes of hormones and mad love for her very own little human; by the teenage boy discovering independance and soon, love and lust; by the toddler waving and smiling at strangers, expecting their attention. 

It's all relative of course, and much wiser people than me probably find me endearing for all those things I am currently in the throes of. It must be the secret of youth. To always be in the throes of something.

My mother, for example, watches me get excited about recipes, frantically plan and make lists of meals, ingredients, ideas. The latest spark of excitement coming from an oak and tea-infused caramel ice cream recipe by the talented and endearing Beth on {local milk}, which I will be (hopefully) impressing friends with very soon. Meanwhile, my mother quietly and patiently soaks and simmers flageolet beans. I'm on all fours photographing sardines, as she adds a few sprigs of thyme and cloves of garlic, stirring gently. Sometimes good is all we need. So we may feel gentle contentment, and be endeared by the fancy, the delirious, the ambitious, the young.



I've been wanting to share this very simple, quiet, yet delicious recipe for some time. Flageolets are beans very commonly consumed in France (mostly cooked and canned), though can be tricky to find in the US. I have found them recently in stores like Whole Foods or specialty food stores, in the form of dried beans (they are apparently grown in California, but I have never seen them fresh). I have seen them described as "the caviar of beans". Small and pale green, they have a very delicate flavor, and are delicious with leg of lamb, an Easter favorite.




I guess I am young and old. Endeared by some, and endearing to others. That's life. Sometimes, I like to share "fancy" exciting recipes, and sometimes, a quiet one, like the simple ratatouille I posted recently, or this one.




Flageolets beans, à la française

My mother's recipe

Serves 6-8 (start preparing 1 day ahead)

Age: I started to give those to Pablo around 8-9 months. They make pretty good finger foods (as all beans) when baby is mastering that pincer grasp, but they are very soft and easy to gum down.

1 lb 8 oz dried flageolets beans
7-8 pearl onions, peeled but left whole
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
A few sprigs of fresh Italian parsley

Soak the flageolets beans in cold water (at room temperature) for 12-16  hours.

Drain and rinse the beans. Put in a large pot. Add the onions, thyme, garlic and bay leaf.
Add enough water to cover the beans (the water level should be about 2 inches above the beans).

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and let gently simmer for about 1 hour, until the beans are tender. (Add some hot water throughout if there isn't enough).

Add salt and pepper to taste.

With scissors, cut some Italian parsley leaves over the beans, mix lightly, and serve.

Note: This is one of those dishes that's even better the next day. You can keep refrigerated and reheat over low heat or even in the microwave. We usually make enough for a couple of meals, have them with pan-fried leg of lamb steaks one night, and with chicken or fish the next day.



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9 comments:

  1. What do you do with the garlic?

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    Replies
    1. Good question, thank you! I realize I forgot to add it in the recipe instructions! I will add it now. You just add the whole cloves with the onion, thyme and bay leaves. :-)

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  2. Delicious! I made this with navy beans tonight because I haven't been able to find flageolets, but the flavors worked well.

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    Replies
    1. You can order dried flagolets through amazon.com.

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    2. You can order these online from Bob's Red Mill.

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  3. Do you throw away the garlic, onions, and thyme when done?

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Just bought some dried green flagelot beans at my local co-op! so happy to find your recipe.

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  6. Just received a pound in my Rancho Gordo bean club quarterly shipment. I am sure these will be best quality and will try something this simple... though usually I'm trying to kick up the bean flavor!

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