A bounty of beans

Janet Gyenes, BC Home editor, tells you how to make a salad with beans from your own plot.

Credit: Janet Gyenes

My little community garden plot is working really hard this summer! Chives and lettuce are growing madly; the lavender is in full bloom with bees buzzing around; the purple Dragon carrots are almost ready to pick (it’s so hard to be patient) and the beets are steadily getting bigger. But this year’s surprising bounty has got to be the beans.

Last year my beans were a write-off. I managed to get a handful but the plants withered and turned yellow, and I finally put those suckers out of their misery, pulled them out and chucked them in the compost. All this, despite carefully watering and planting them next to good garden companions. This year I planted West Coast Seeds’ Dragon Tongue bush beans—a Dutch heritage variety—in mid-May along with a variety of green beans bush (unfortunately, I can’t seem locate the seed packets so I can’t tell you what they are other than that they’re organic), and the crops have been, in a word, prolific. I’ve probably picked about 2 pounds of beans this week!

The Dragon Tongue beans certainly look a bit curious with their purple streaks over lemony yellow (are these the same colour as dragons, I wonder), but they’re just as crisp and flavourful as the green beans. And every now and then, there’s one that’s the most gorgeous deep purple, sans streaks, which just looks lovely peeking out amid the bushes’ lush green leaves. Their growth spurt has taken me by surprise, too. The delicate little beans quite literally grew inches in a couple of days, and there are still plenty of purple flowers on the bushes, which means my bumper crop is just getting started.

Of course, to keep the crop going, I need to pick, pick, pick. Yesterday I gave a fellow gardener some beans and lettuce, and she gave me some radicchio, a tarragon plant and some sort of upside-down garlic/onion thing. It looks like a green onion, but the “flower” on top looks just like a “loose” head of garlic, and that’s the part that gets planted. More on that once I can ID it.

The bounty of beans has gotten me cooking and making up recipes. Here’s one I cobbled together. There’s no need for measurements; just add as much or as little as you like so that there’s a good balance of flavours and colours, and enjoy the taste of summer:

Summer Bean Salad (pictured at top)

Beans – a couple of cups, washed, trimmed and cooked until tender crisp (steam or nuke for 2–3 minutes)
Feta cheese, crumbled
Red bell pepper, sliced thinly
Red onion, sliced thinly
Chopped herbs; I used the basil and parsley I grew, but you can use any combination
Radishes, cut into matchsticks
Extra virgin olive oil
Vinegar (I recommend white, wine or cider vinegar over balsamic, but use what you like)
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper, to taste

Toss all ingredients together, season with salt and pepper to taste. Let chill for about 30 minutes before serving to let ingredients mingle and set.