I love dried beans! Healthy, versatile and earth-friendly, these beauties just take a bit of attention to prepare. Last summer I blogged about my favorite bean purveyor-- Rancho Gordo --describing some of the gorgeous varieties available, and I tried to convince everyone to try them. I even inspired myself to cook them more often!
But ironically, since then it’s been difficult to get good quality dried beans. Where are all the Royal Coronas?? It turns out there was actually a bean shortage—c’est incroyable! Poor growing conditions in 2019 impacted 2020 yields, and during Covid lots of people bought beans as a shelf-stable protein source. Low supply + high demand = no beans.
But good news!! Bean production is up this year, and many varieties are now available again. In March I managed to acquire eight pounds, including four pounds of my favorite--Royal Coronas. These are a type of white European runner bean, and they are huge when cooked—as much as 1 ½ inches long!
My favorite way to prepare Royal Coronas is adapted from the Delaurenti Cookbook (from its namesake store in the Pike Place Market, Seattle.) This is a simple recipe, and with patience and attention these beans turn out tender, creamy and subtly flavored with the herbs they’re cooked with. And, they can be further enhanced by the ingredients you add afterwards. Serve them as an appetizer a glass of wine and some bread to sop up the fragrant oil, or they're perfect as a side dish. Just be sure to soak the beans overnight before starting this recipe.
Basic Recipe to Cook Royal Corona Beans
1 pound dried Corona beans, soaked overnight
4 bay leaves
8 garlic cloves (whole, peeled)
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 yellow onion (peeled, halved)
3 TBSP quality olive oil
1 TBSP sea salt
Put the drained, pre-soaked beans into a large Dutch oven. Then add the rest of the ingredients (except the salt) and enough water to cover it all plus a couple of inches. (It’s important to maintain the level of liquid in the pot, otherwise the beans cook unevenly.)
Using low heat, slowly bring the beans to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down as low as possible while still maintaining a very bare simmer. Cook them uncovered anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. When they are tender and creamy, they’re done.
Turn off the flame and gently stir in the sea salt. Allow the beans to cool in their liquid. At this point you can either use the beans by draining and rinsing them, then adding additional ingredients. Or you can for leave them in their cooking liquid and refrigerate them for up to one week or freeze.
Royal Corona Beans with Olive Oil and Herbs
4 cups cooked Corona beans
1 cup quality olive oil
Juice and grated zest of ½ lemon
½ cup chopped Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl gently stir together the beans with the remaining ingredients. This dish is delicious as is, but you can further enhance it by adding one or more of the following:
Diced red onion
Quality canned tuna
Crumbled feta cheese
Halved cherry tomatoes
-Delaurenti Cookbook: https://www.amazon.com/Delaurenti-Cookbook-Pat-McCarthy/dp/193324528X/ref=sr_1_2?crid=6M3QSX3642E1&dchild=1&keywords=delaurenti+cookbook&qid=1622068517&sprefix=delaurenti+cookbook%2Caps%2C217&sr=8-2
-To soak your beans or not?? I generally soak overnight if I plan to cook them on the stove, as it speeds up the process. If I forget, or am in a hurry, I’ll sometimes bake them for several hours. It still takes a while, but it’s faster than overnight.
-You can divide this recipe if you don’t want to prepare a whole pound of beans. Cooked beans can be frozen in their cooking liquid.