I got some fresh cranberry beans at the farmers market today...I'm looking for some good ideas for preparing them. Thank you!
I have a bumper crop of these. If you cook them in a well-flavored broth (garlic, fennel, onion, herbs) and store them in the refrigerator in the broth, you can use them at your leisure---minestrone is nice. With the addition of some basil and seasoning, they are a nice salad. Tamar Adler has a simple but delicious recipe that involves heating some beans and broth, then cooking an egg in it. Pour that into a bowl into which you've put some toast rubbed with garlic. With some parmesan and olive oil on top, yummy. Any beans/broth that doesn't get eaten lends itself to freezing. They do lose those great pink/rose stripes in cooking.
I often use cranberry beans in place of pinto beans. I like to add two cups of dried beans, 6 cups of water, a roughly chopped onion, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1 or 2 chipotle peppers with adobo sauce (depending on how hot you like it) to a crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, then add the whole shebang to a food processor and pulse a few times. Add salt to taste, and some grated cheddar cheese if you'd like, and voila, refried beans without any frying!
I forgot to mention that you can also freeze fresh shell beans without cooking them in broth. Just blanch them and freeze. Then you can use them like fresh later. The nice thing about fresh shell beans (in addition to taste) is that they cook so quickly. It's rare to see them in a market, so enjoy. (They are also ridiculously easy to grow, should you have the opportunity.)