Many grocers have great supplies of Peas and Beans. Probably they have not been culled through to the highest quality as Sid Wainer does for us, but we include here the varieties that we think you will have a hard time finding at local grocers. Don't forget the wild foraged sea beans and their crisp briny taste.
Cranberry Beans. Generally available in the summer months, cranberry beans have a distinctive color that catches your eye. They become creamy and nutty once cooked. Perfect in salads, tossed into pasta or stewed.
Garbanzo Bean - Fresh. Typically available April thru October, fresh garbanzos are also known as chick peas and are versitile and delicious. They are the base component in hummus, are fantastic in stews and chilis but a quick fry in the pan with some sea salt - mmmmmmmm!
Long Bean. Chinese Long Beans, or "Long Beans," are very long beans that are similar in texture, color & taste to a French Bean. You may keep them intact, and wrap or wind them around your plates for a unique look. Or you may chop them to your desired size. Substitute for French Beans in recipes. Also great in stir fried Beans.
Fresh Fava Bean. Also known as Broad bean, Horse bean, English or Windsor bean. They must first be split open to reveal the beans within, which are edible: the outer skin is not. Shape and texture similar to that of a lima beans, but not as pasty or starchy. Approximately 45-55 beans per pound (shelled). Small beans may be eaten raw. Larger beans should be cooked thoroughly. Wonderful as a side dish, or add to soups, stews, or any dish where beans are appropriate. Serve with a nice Chianti. The outer shell and inner beans can vary in color from dark to light green, or light brown to purple. The condition of the outer shell is not always indicative of the quality of the beans within, so be sure to open a few pods and sample the beans for crispness and any signs of decay.
Fresh English Peas. Also known as fresh, green peas, shell, or garden peas, there are typically 50-60 pea pods per pound with an average of 6-8 edible peas within each pod. Do not allow to sit in standing water. The firm and hard outer shell is not to be eaten. Once opened, a string of round, tender, sweet peas come rolling out. Exquisite when boiled, butter-steamed, or tossed into vegetable salads, the younger the peas, the sweeter they are. They require a bit of preparation, but they are well worth it.
Purple Snow Peas. Same great crunch and flavor but in a great purple color! They average 100-120 peas per pound. Entirely edible, there is a string that runs along the outer side of the pea that is best removed, as it is irritating to chew on. The preferred pea in stir-fry dishes, as its flat shape works well for quick and thorough cooking within the wok.
Yellow Wax Beans. Yellow Wax Beans are a pale yellow color, and they're similar in taste, texture and shape to French Beans. Blanch or saute for best flavor. Substitute for French Beans, or combine the 2, in recipes.Madagascar and Tahiti, with the later being more expensive. These dried beans are best kept cool, dry and in a sealed and preferably dark container. Approximately 60-70 vanilla bean pods per pound. Vanilla beans may be used over again in their whole state, to flavor sugar, flour, ground coffee and more. For added flavor, shell the beans from their outer pod and mash into a paste that can be used to flavor fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish! Versatile and delicious.
Haricot Verts Beans. The thin crisp green bean that is the queen of the crop. Versatile and tasty. Just in time for Thanksgiving.