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Fresh Cranberry Beans with Greens

Fresh cranberry beans celebrate some of nature’s most beautiful plants. Though the pink and purple hues fade with cooking, the prep work is like opening dozens of tiny gifts.

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A few weeks ago, I was just walking through the farmer’s market near my office, when something caught my eye. There was a giant mount of green and pink speckled bean pods labeled “cranberry beans” I couldn’t resist! Without thinking I bought a pound and a half, googling “how to cook cranberry beans” when I got back to my desk.

Turns out my impulse buy was a good one. Inside these bespeckled pods are tender little beans, ranging in hue from dark purple to almost completely white. Though these beans lose their vibrant color in the cooking process, they taste delicious. (But seriously, RIP that beautiful purple color.)

Most recipes call for cooking these beans with water and covering during the cooking process. I tried a different approach. By using stock and cooking uncovered, the flavor of the stock, aromatics, and beans intensifies as it cooks down. Warning: this recipe will make your whole house smell AMAZING. Of course, if you want to make this dish vegetarian, you can swap in vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

When cooking these beans, I highly recommend using a cast iron pot or skillet. It holds the heat very well, so you don’t have to worry about constantly adjusting the temperature to keep the simmer going. I’m a big fan of my Field Company skillet. It’s a lighter weight skillet but is a great size and has high walls — perfect for simmering these beans.

Towards the end of the cooking process, I added a few handfuls of baby spinach. If you have a heartier green, like collards or kale, that would also be excellent. Just add them a little sooner so they have plenty of time to wilt and get tender.

Cranberry Beans with Greens

Course: Side Dish
Type: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Fresh cranberry beans celebrate some of nature’s most beautiful plants. Though the pink and purple hues fade with cooking, the prep work is like opening dozens of tiny gifts. 


What You’ll Need

  • 2 cups shelled cranberry beans about 1.5 lbs unshelled
  • 2 spring onions sliced – greens and whites separate
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups baby spinach loosely packed
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to Do

  1. In a high-sided skillet (cast iron is best), heat the olive oil over medium high heat, until it shimmers.
  2. Add the white parts of the spring onions and the garlic. Saute, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  3. Add the shelled beans, and stir to coat.
  4. Add the chicken stock to the pan. All of the beans should be somewhat submerged in the stock; if they are not add a little extra stock or some water.
  5. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat slightly. Simmer gently for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans have absorbed most of the stock and are tender. If the beans are still not tender, add a little more stock or water to the pan and simmer for 5-10 minutes more.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the spinach to the pan – allow it to steam and soften for 1-2 minutes, then stir in to the cooked beans.
  7. Stir in most of the green spring onion, reserving some for garnish. Enjoy!

Need more recipes for beans and greens? Try Chickpeas with Kale and Tahini Sauce!

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