Paul came for Sunday lunch, so I made his all time favorite meal – beans with red scribbles. I used the entire season’s harvest – there are just a few dried pods left on the vines. This may seem extravagant, but they are so totally delicious that extravagance seemed to be appropriate. You are probably wondering about the odd name. It isn’t official, it is just made up by me – the flat, creamy beans look as if someone has scribbled on them with a red wax crayon and I have read about ‘fagiolini scrivi’ somewere before, so I adopted the name for my favourite Lima beans too. In the greengrocer they are called Double Beans, some people call them Christmas Beans and I overheard an organic farmer talking about Seven Year Beans at a conference recently. He was saying you don’t have to replant them every year, they just keep on growing – for seven years. He was from Durban, so probably this is the case if you don’t get much frost. Mine are in their third year now, but looking pretty bleak after our cold winter, so I will have to wait and see if they sprout in Spring.
Anyway, I steamed the beans and then tossed them in garlic, spring onions, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Simple but spectacular served with purplish butter lettuce and a few slivers of sundried tomato. Perfect for nibbling in the winter sunshine with a glass of wine.
I have shared seeds of these with friends far and wide and everyone raves about them. They leave even committed carnivores weak at the knees. The dogs love them too. Sometimes I have stewed them in coconut milk with ginger and sweet potatoes, or made a rich tomato sauce to accompany them We think they are best served simply, to savour the delicious creaminess. They are very filling, so after cooking up half a jar full, we had plenty leftover for lunch today. Lucky us.
They grow easily, seem to tolerate a wide range of conditions and produce prolifically. They never seem to be attacked by any insects or birds. The big, flat, green pods don’t seem to mind being left dry on the vine until you have time to harvest them. Any which fall out, simply germinate and grow – now that is easy, peasy food gardening. My friend, Ken Willan, reckons they are the answer to world hunger. I think I agree – if everyone grew these and Amaranthus too, we’d feed a lot of people nutritiously and deliciously, with minimal effort.
Would you like to try some? I’ll be happy to post you three seeds in time to plant in Spring, if you ask me.