Friday, July 1, 2011
It’s been a while since I posted a recipe. As you know I’ve been traveling a lot lately and so doing much more restaurant eating than home cooking. But in between restaurants, museums, walks and theater I always manage to get some serious food shopping in, where ever I am.
While in Paris last week I stopped by Le Grand Epicerie, which has become a tradition. While I always make new discoveries, I also always end up getting at least one pack of Haricots Tarbais.
I wish I could tell you some romantic story of how I first ate these beans in the Pyrenees. But really, I only discovered them while wheeling a shopping cart through Le Grande Epicerie. I wander really slowly, looking at everything, picking up packages and reading them. Sometimes putting in the cart, sometimes just wandering on to the next aisle. But there was something about the packaging of the Tarbais that I liked, and the beans themselves looked unlike any beans I was used to cooking with in Italy. Bigger and flatter. I didn’t really like the red label, but as it turned out the Label Rouge is a sign of agricultural quality in France. Who knew?
As it turns out the beans are originally from Mexico, and were brought over to Europe by Christopher Columbus (at least this is what I found out on the internet, so it must be true.) They are grown in the foothills of the Pyrenees in very poor and rocky soil, which gives them their unique taste.
Whatever their history, the reason I keep buying them every time I am in Paris is because I love how they taste and how they remain firm and un-floury when I cook them. They have a delicate nutty flavor, and I usually end up making some sort of bean salad with them.
Which is what I did last night, when I finally cooked at home for the first time in weeks. If you can find Tarbais beans, do try them. If not, you can substitute another white bean.
They are actually for sale on line here. But at $15.85 for a one pound bag, I’m not sure I can say go buy these. Better to find a really good quality local white bean. But please please please make the effort to use dried beans, not canned.
Tarbais Bean Salad
1 pound of Tarbais Beans
1 medium red pepper
1 medium yellow pepper
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt & pepper
8 anchovy filets
1 cup chopped parsley
Soak the beans for 6 hours, then cook in salted water until tender. Don’t let them over cook, since you don’t want them to get mushy.
While beans are cooking chop the peppers and onions and place them in a bowl large enough to hold all of the beans. Add olive oil, vinegar and chopped anchovies. Add crushed garlic, salt and pepper and stir.
When beans are done cooking, drain and add to the vegetables while still hot. Stir well, and taste for salt and pepper. Let the bean salad come to room temperature and serve.
It’s very good if you make it the day ahead of time. If you do so, just make sure you take it out of the fridge at least an hour before you eat, to come to room temperature.