The Local Food Report: summer beans

There is a bean for everyone. There are beans for people with cool soil. There are beans for chefs. There are beans for grandmothers and there are beans for everyone in between. What's your bean profile? 

To find out, I made you a quiz. That's right, Seventeen style. Enjoy & report back! (If you click on the quiz, it opens up bigger in a new window.)

(You will note that the yellow Yes! variety is missing. You can find it below under Indy Gold. Sorry about that!)

Haricot Vert: These French fillet beans can be fussy. Chefs love them, but with most varieties you have to check on them and pick daily—or even hourly—to get them while they're the right size. 

Provider: Your grandmother's standby. Germinates well in cool soil and is resistant to many pests and fungi. A very high yielding variety with an early crop.

Empress: According to many seed catalogs, you have to plant this slightly later than Provider but it's just as good for yield and better for taste. Crisp and great for canning and freezing.

Royal Burgundy: Purple on the outside but green on the inside. Thanks to a chemical reaction these beans turn green when cooked. Crisp and nutty with great yield. Delicious!

Indy Gold: Comparable to Provider in terms of hardiness and yield and resistance; good for shelling or eating fresh.

Dragon Langerie: Flat purple and green streaked pods—stunning. Crisp and great for eating raw. 

We grew Masai Bush Haricot Vert this year. The bulk of our crop came in the other day, and to celebrate we made a nicoise salad. It seemed only fitting for a French fillet bean.


This is a summer salad by definition. It calls for fresh green beans, waxy new potatoes, local quail eggs, and pan-seared bluefin tuna. They key to the dressing is the anchovies, which provide a serious kick of salt. 

1 recipe anchovy vinaigrette (see below)
2 6 oz tuna steaks
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 head butter lettuce, washed and torn
a handful of parsley leaves
1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed, diced, and boiled til tender
a handful of capers
8 hardboiled quail eggs, peeled and halved
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pound haricot vert or fresh green beans

Season the tuna with salt and pepper. Warm up a skillet or cast iron griddle over high heat; pour on the oil and let that warm up. Sear the tuna for about 2 minutes per side. Set the fish aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the butter lettuce, parsley, and anchovy vinaigrette. Layer on top the new potatoes, capers, quail eggs, cherry tomatoes, haricot vert, and tuna. Serve at once.


2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 small shallot, minced
2-4 anchovy fillets
salt, pepper, and parsley to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons warm water
a pinch of sugar
1/2 cup olive oil.

Pulse all ingredients together in a blender until well-mixed.


Rachelle said...

I planted Contender as a green eating bean, but myartistic side when with a decorative dragon tongue with purpley-red mottled pods.

What I really am is a dry bean eater! Kidney, pinto, northerns, black...

Teresa Parker said...

Is a big, flat, "romano" type green bean the official granny bean? My grandma's kitchen always smelled like these in the summertime, cooked them until they were soft, with a big hunk of bacon in the pan.

For a while, I thought my still-crisp, ice-water plunged haricots verts were superior. But lately I've been craving those wide beans, a little softer than crisp, and what better seasoning, really, than the bacon?

Elspeth said...


We are dry bean people too. My mom always sticks bags of them in our stockings from her farmers' market in Maine, and it's always exciting to try new varieties.

And Teresa, you cannot go wrong with bacon. Agreed!

All the best,

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.