Harvest of the Month: Dry beans


Every year I challenge myself to grow enough potatoes, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash to eat all winter until the spring garden begins to grow. It’s a game that is fun when I get to enjoy and remember my garden, even in the darkest, coldest months, but a game that I nonetheless always lose. Last summer, I experimented with growing dry beans to give me one more crop to make it through the winter. There they sit, in my entryway, waiting for me to shell them. Now that February is here, I am ready to unwrap each pod and celebrate the shiny, colorful seeds inside.

My family enjoys beans multiple times a week. Chickpeas are roasted with cumin and cut-up veggies to be stuffed inside warm pita with tahini sauce for a weeknight meal. Black beans are simmered in the late afternoon with oregano and garlic to be added into rice bowls. Cannellini beans are stewed with tomatoes, herbs, and pasta for warming and comforting pasta fagioli.

Another of my favorite recipes is Boston Baked Beans. Cook them slow on a Sunday afternoon, and enjoy with sausages and cabbage.

Boston Baked Beans
Recipe by Robin Forte

2 cups dried navy beans
¼ lb. salt pork (optional)
1 large onion, diced
3 Tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. dry mustard
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup ketchup

Soak beans in water overnight, or at least 12 hours. Put beans and their soaking liquid into an ovenproof pot, bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer and cook on low for an hour. Add remaining ingredients, cover and bake in a 325° oven for approximately four hours (adding more water if necessary, to keep beans moist but not too wet). Cook until beans are tender. Remove salt pork before serving.