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Herbed Marrow Beans June 22, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Cooking Challenge, Food, random stuff.
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Sounds kind of . . . weird, huh?  Oh, but wait, it gets better.  Much better.

PhotobucketA little while ago, one of the blogs I read, Marx Foods, offered me the opportunity to “test drive” some heirloom beans, in exchange for. . . well, nothing, actually.*

*  Here’s the legal junk:  Marx Foods offered samples of some dried beans to several bloggers.  I raised my hand, they sent me beans.  I was under no obligation to review, blog about, or even like the beans – it’s just a complimentary package of beans from a small business.  One could say I work for beans, yes, but that has nothing to do with Marx Foods.

So yeah.  Peeps told you about his pink beans last week – and they were indeed good.  My bean selection consisted of a cup of marrow beans, which I had never had before.

So what are marrow beans, you ask?

Well, according to Marx Foods:

Marrow beans (aka Marrowfat beans) are large, egg-shaped heirloom white beans with a creamy texture and a flavor many people consider bacon-esque.

PhotobucketUm, bacon-esque? Really?  I’m sure.

Basically, marrow beans are considered to be creamy and meaty, popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.

Um, OK.

So I thought about it.  If these beans were “bacon-esque” (yeah, right!), or, at the very least, meaty, they’re perfect for a meatless meal.  So that’s settled.

But what kind of meatless meal?  That was the question.  So we soaked the beans overnight and mulled it over.

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I’ve got to ask – do these Marx Foods people hire special bean-polishers?  These were the cleanest beans I’ve ever seen!  No dirt, no stones, no discolored beans – they were beautiful, which is high praise indeed for a packet of beans!

I ultimately settled on doing something with the beans, some pasta, and my herb garden.

Have you seen my herb garden?  It’s crazy.

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So. The beans.  I didn’t season them at all to cook them – mainly, I wanted to see what the beans themselves tasted like.    As I said, I soaked the beans overnight, and let me tell you!  When I researched the beans, I kept reading about these “large, egg-shaped” beans – and looking at these wee little things.  But once they’d soaked overnight – WOWZA!  They must have at least doubled in size – it was almost freakish!

Why no, I don’t get out much, why do you ask?

Now when they were cooked, the beans almost seemed risotto-ish – there was kind of a sticky, starchiness to them – almost like they’d gotten a head start on being mashed or something.  I don’t know, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

PhotobucketSo while the beans were cooking, I got my machete out and hacked down a bale or so of fresh herbs.

Seriously, I cut a bit of everything in my garden – plenty of sage, various basils, some thyme, chervil, tarragon, lavender, parsley, rosemary, savory, marjoram, caraway, oregano, and lots of chives and garlic chives.

Hey, anything worth doing is worth overdoing, right?

I took the mezzaluna to them and wound up with a good half cup of finely chopped herbs.  Mince a few garlic cloves, zest and juice a lemon, and toast some walnuts, then drop the pasta.

PhotobucketWhile the pasta cooks, I saute the minced garlic in a good amount of olive oil – about 1/4 cup.  Once that’s nice and fragrant, add maybe 2/3 of the chopped herbs and all of the cooked beans, and stir together with a healthy bit of freshly ground black pepper.

What we want to do, while the pasta cooks, is gently infuse a little of that herby flavor into the beans – but we don’t want cooked herbs.

Once the pasta is drained, toss that with a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and set aside.  Add the remainder of the fresh herbs to the beans, the zest of a lemon, a handful of toasted walnuts, then stir the whole mess, along with the juice of the zested lemon, until the beans are slightly – just barely – mashed and kind of the consistency of a thick sauce.  (I could have probably thinned it a bit with pasta water, but, to be honest, it never occurred to me until just this minute.)

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Plate the oiled spaghetti, then top with the herby beans and a healthy grating of fresh parmiggiano reggiano – it won’t take much, just enough.

A bit of crushed red pepper wouldn’t be amiss here, either.

So the bottom line?

These beans were great – the texture was soft, with a firmness that told me they were BEANS – they were creamy and, yes, meaty (though I don’t know that I’d say bacon-y).  They played very nicely with the pasta and they stood  up particularly well to the, well, let’s face it, the onslaught of fresh herbs.  This was almost a ragoût – one full of fresh herbs and supple beans. We were both very happy with this – it was the perfect showcase for both the season’s herbs and the beautiful beans!

I would be remiss if I neglected to thank Marx Foods for the opportunity to try these wonderful beans.  Thanks, Justin – this was great!

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Comments

1. mazco34 - June 22, 2010

Marx Foods really found the perfect pair of bloggers to give a bean sample pack.

Send them stuff, and you get free promotion to a couple of dozen people.

I’m going to look into ordering something from them in the future.

It’s quite the clever marketing plan, isn’t it? 😀

2. Cristina - June 22, 2010

That looks great.Very nicely improvised. How do those ideas come to you anyway?

I was really hoping the beans would taste like bacon. I’d buy those. 😉

I know, right? they did definitely have a meatiness to them – more so than most beans, but . . . maybe, if you had never actually had bacon? 😀

I had done something sort of similar a while back, only with some tuna, and without beans. . . similar, though. Lots of herbs. 😉 I let the thought of the beans and herbs work in the back of my mind for a couple of days, so. . . there you go, I guess.

3. anne - June 22, 2010

I can never wrap my head around pasta and beans together, but you just might convince me with this one. My herb garden is a bit less robust that yours; actually, it consists of one basil and one rosemary. If I harvest a bale of anything, it just might include a pine tree. But since I’ve never heard of marrow beans, perhaps pine would be a fine addition, no?

I actually had intended to use brown rice, but, you know, beans and rice have kind of been done to death. 😉

And, um, ONE basil? What the heck are you gonna do with that? I’ve got six this year. Of course, I also have a freezer full of pesto from last year, but who’s keeping track?

anne - June 23, 2010

Well, I live in the woods. We don’t get much sunshine, so I have to grow stuff in pots. It was an experiment this year, maybe next year I’ll go wild and grow two. 🙂

You wild woman, you! And how about a parsley, too? 😆


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