Summertime makes me giddy, and it’s not just the sunshine and subsequent Vitamin D boost that puts me in a good mood. It’s partly the produce: Those juicy tomatoes, succulent stone fruit, and vine-ripened peppers must contain some secret feel-good phytochemicals, because I feel fabulous after eating them. I’m also a big fan of shelling beans—favas, runner beans, and my favorite, cranberry beans. I buy them by the bucketload as soon as they make an appearance at the farmers’ market.
Figuring out how to eat them is always part of the fun. A simple salad of shelled, boiled cranberry beans, fresh basil, and sliced cherry tomatoes is summer-salad perfection. For something heartier, there’s that Italian classic, Pasta e fagioli, which calls for al dente noodles tossed with cooked greens, tomatoes, and cannellini beans. For a savory treat that’s easily transportable to you next alfresco picnic, try this garlicky, lemony white bean purée. Slather it on toasted bread for a rustic sandwich, or use it as a dip for chips or fresh veggies.
Lemony White Bean Purée
2 cups fresh, shelled white beans (cranberry beans or cannellini)
2 large cloves garlic, sliced in half
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. herbes de Provence
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
1. Bring beans, garlic, onion, and herbs de Provence to a boil in 4 cups water. Reduce heat and let simmer until beans are tender, approximately 30 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and cool.
2. In a food processor, add bean mixture, lemon, zest, 1 Tbs. water, and salt. Pulse until smooth. Scrape purée into a bowl, add olive oil and parsley, and gently stir to incorporate. Season with pepper and more salt, if desired, and serve.