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While you're preparing to plant beans, consider buying seed for two easily grown herbs that have long been associated with them, summer savory and epazote. Summer savory can be used fresh or dried in bean dishes, and its presence in the garden has been credited with encouraging the growth of nearby beans. In acknowledgement of the association of these two plants, German markets offer green beans tied in bundles with a few sprigs of Bohnenkraut, or bean-leaf, as summer savory is known. Epazote is a curiously scented herb used in Mexican bean cuisine, for both flavor and its reputed powers as a digestive. In India, asafetida and ginger are used to spice bean dishes for the same seasons.
BLUE TEPARY BEAN SALAD
Small, colorfully speckled tepary beans look like tiny bird egs. Their distinctive, nutty flavor is best shown off in simple dishes in which they can shine.
2 cups tepary beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tamari
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
6 cherry tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
Soak the beans overnight. Drain, cover with fresh water, and simmer until tender but not mushy.
Drain the cooked beans and put them in a bowl with the remaining ingredients, stirring well to distribute them. Let stand for at least 1 hour before serving. Refrigerate for longer periods, but allow the salad to come back to room temperature.
Excerpted from A Celebration of Heirloom Vegetables. Copyright c 1998 by Roger Yepsen. Reprinted by permission of Artisan.