Eye of the Goat Beans with Salsa Verde and Feta

Posted by on Jan 23, 2013 in Musings, Recipes | 2 comments

It’s hard to believe something as simple as a dried bean can make you swoon with pleasure. But that’s just what happens to me when I cook up yet another variety of Steve Sando’s Rancho Gordo beans. Pre-Steve, beans were beans. They took hours to cook, even after soaking. More often than not, many of them floated to the surface, wrinkled and sad, never cooking at all. Who knows how long those beans had been sitting on the shelf, much less how long it had been since they were harvested and dried? It could have been years….

So, what a revelation to cook and eat dried beans that are “fresh”. This year’s crop – harvested, dried and packed with no time to languish in a dusty warehouse. And how to you begin to choose among varieties such as Good Mother Stallard, Mayacoba, Black Valentine, Sangre de Toro and Christmas Limas, not to mention favorites like Flageolet, Runner Cannellini and Borlotti beans?

So, the last time I was in the store, I asked Steve to pick out one of his favorites for me. He looked pained at the prospect. “These beans are like my children. I can’t pick a favorite!” I didn’t let up and he finally went over and picked up a bag of Eye of the Goat, or Ojo de Cabra beans. “Okay, I’ll admit it. I cook these on a regular basis. Just cook them with some onions and garlic. That’s all they need.”

He was right. The beans cooked up plump, meaty and creamy with a hint of chocolate and spice. The cooking broth was rich and sweet and delicious enough to be savored on its own. If it had been summer, I would have made a simple, fresh tomato salsa to go with the beans for a tangy contrast. But, with tomatoes a long way off, I made a Salsa Verde instead, with lots of fresh cilantro, mint and parsley and vinegary shallots. A crumble of feta cheese on top made this into a satisfying supper. And, I could see serving these beans alongside any grilled meat, fish or chicken.

When I am in a hurry, I cook my beans in a pressure cooker. Steve prefers cooking them in a clay pot because the flavor of the cooking broth has more time to develop and concentrate. It’s true. So when I want to give my pressure-cooked beans more oomph, I saute some onions and garlic in a pot, add the cooked beans and a couple of cups of their cooking liquid, then simmer together for a while to reduce and intensify the flavors, about 10-15 minutes. It’s a close second, but it works.

Eye of the Goat Beans with Salsa Verde and Feta
(serves 6-8)

For the beans:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound Eye of the Goat Beans, cooked ( in pressure cooker or on stove top)
1 cup reserved bean cooking liquid
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Heat the oil in a large, wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and stir to coat evenly with the olive oil. Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking until they are soft and translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the garlic from burning. Add the beans along with the cooking liquid, the salt and pepper.

Turn the heat back up to medium high and bring the beans to a gentle boil. Then turn it back down to low and simmer until half the liquid has evaporated, another 8-10 minutes. Cover and hold in a warm place.

For the Salsa Verde and Feta:
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots (1 large or 2 medium)
2 tablespoons good quality red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
½ cup Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
½ cup mint leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup finely minced chives (1 bunch)
Zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped
2 anchovies, finely minced
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces feta cheese

In a small bowl, combine the shallots, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and the salt. Stir together and make sure the shallots are submerged in the liquid. Set aside for 15 minutes to macerate.

In a medium bowl, combine the chopped cilantro, parsley, mint, chives and lemon zest. Stir together. Add the anchovies to the shallot-vinegar mixture, then stir this into the chopped herbs. Stir in the olive oil and taste for seasoning. Adjust with more lemon juice and/or salt, if desired.

To serve:
Drizzle the Salsa Verde over the warm beans and crumble the feta over the top. Eat warm or at room temperature.

2 Comments

  1. So beautiful.

    p.s. We missed you last night.

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