Shelling Bean Hummus


Shelling Beans

Shelling Beans

Shelling beans—in the cranberry bean family– appeared at Moonlight Alpaca’s table last week. (Look for them this week!) Their slightly bumpy pale green pods are mottled with crimson streaks. Inside you’ll find fat shiny alabaster beans, marbled with pink, almost too pretty to cook. The beans lose their looks as they cook, turning tan outside, but their interiors quickly become creamy. Unlike dried beans they don’t need soaking and cook fast.

You can use these beans as a vegetable, with pasta, in stews and soups. But their creaminess lends them to the hummus treatment. They make a nice vegetable spread, mashed with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. (Add a little tahini if you like.) Finish the spread with a dusting of red paprika – or, even better, with dried sumac, the Middle-Eastern spice with a lovely deep red color and lemony tang.

Shelling Bean “Hummus” 

  • 1 lb. shelling beans in the pod (for ½ lb. shelled beans)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • sea-salt salt and freshly ground pepper
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 1 Tbs. or so roughly chopped cilantro or flat Italian parsley
  • A pinch dried sumac or paprika

Unzip pods to shell the beans. You want about half a pound of loose beans. Put in a pan with a crushed clove of garlic and enough water to cover – no salt – and simmer gently until very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, saving bean cooking water.

Mash beans with a mortar and pestle (a bit at a time if your mortar bowl isn’t large) or use a food processor, scraping down purée and loosening it with spoonfuls of cooking water as needed.

Finely mince remaining garlic and mash it to a paste with a pinch of salt. Add garlic to the bean purée. Work in olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Spread the bean hummus in a shallow soup bowl and make a little well in the middle. Trickle in a pool of olive oil – your best. Strew with red sumac or paprika powder and roughly chopped cilantro or Italian parsley.

Serve with triangles of warm pita bread for scooping, or spoon the bean hummus on thin rounds of baguette, crisped in the oven.

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