Most people look forward to the arrival of tomatoes or sweet corn at their farmers' markets in the summer. While I love those things too, what I'm really waiting for are fresh shell beans. It seems like there is an ever-increasing variety available each year - favas, cranberry beans, flageolets and more - and most summer Saturday afternoons you'll find me with a bowl in my lap, happily shelling away. This preparation borrows heavily from Suzanne Goin's method in Sunday Suppers at Lucques, and it works well for all sorts of fresh beans. Feel free to omit the chile if you want a more neutral flavor. —lastnightsdinner
extra virgin olive oil
finely chopped shallot
Kosher or sea salt
a pinch of red chile flakes, or one crumbled dried chile Arbol
a sprig or two of fresh thyme, savory, or marjoram
shelled fresh beans
water or stock
In This Recipe
Warm the oil over medium heat, then add the shallot, a big pinch of salt, the chile (if using), and the herb sprigs.
Cook until the shallot is soft and the herbs are fragrant, then add the beans, stirring to coat them in the oil.
Add just enough liquid to come up to the top of the beans, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook just until the beans are tender, adding more liquid as necessary.
Remove the herb sprigs and serve the cooked beans as-is, or incorporate them into another dish.