lola rugula cold cucumber salad recipe

dried rattlesnake bean and vegetable soup

I had the pleasure last summer of growing rattlesnake beans for the first time. I had never heard of them and was intrigued because they can be eaten just like green beans when they’re young or eaten as dried beans when left to grow and dry on the vine. Anyone who’s grown green beans knows how quickly they can grow, so the advantage to growing rattlesnake beans is that if they go past their young, tender stage, you can let them go to dried beans and still enjoy them. Genius, I say! If you’ve been wondering how to grow rattlesnake beans, they’re easy to grow and delicious.

I ordered my beans from Territorial Seed Company and planted them in early May. Rattlesnake beans are pole beans, so you need to give them a fence or support to grow on and boy do these things grow. I did not have the foresight to take a picture of them on the vine but here’s a shot of them while they’re young:

lola-rugula-how-to-grow-rattlesnake-beaans

Aren’t they beautiful? The dark purple striping makes a stunning contrast to the green pod and these really are delicious when harvested at this stage. If you’re wondering how to cook young rattlesnake beans, they can be cooked any way you cook regular green beans. They’re wonderful steamed, roasted and added to soups and other dishes. We had a very healthy harvest of these before I let them go to the drying stage.

Growing them here in Zone 5 was very easy for me. I planted the seeds against a garden fence with some compost and manure mixed in. These are very fast growers and occasionally I had to train the vines around the fence, to make sure they had some much-needed support. I harvested them as green beans until late July or early August and then let the rest of them mature and dry on the vine, picking them as they became fully dry. Then I shelled them and stored them in a storage container in my pantry, where they’ve kept well as I work my way through them.

lola rugula how to grow rattlesnake beans in zone 5

As you can see, the dried beans are just as gorgeous as the green ones – their distinctive markings make it easy to see why they’re called rattlesnake beans.

So here we are, in the middle of a cold Midwestern winter, and what’s the best way to cook these dried rattlesnake beans? In soup, of course! Packed full of veggies, this is a great version of a clean-out-your-fridge recipe. Mine here simply reflects what I had on hand for veggies, so please don’t be afraid to use whatever you love and/or have on hand. There are no rules to veggie and bean soup, except that you make it with the veggies you enjoy. And if you don’t have dried rattlesnake beans, then use whatever beans you like. Don’t like beans? This is still a great vegetable soup recipe, so don’t be afraid to omit or change things up. Be prepared, this is a long list of veggies but don’t be daunted…I’m just cleaning out my fridge for soup…

lola rugula how to cook rattlesnake beans recipe

rattlesnake bean and vegetable soup recipe

  • 1 cup of dried rattlesnake beans
  • 1 cup of small pasta, such as ditalini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 8-10 baby carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 5 small sweet peppers, diced
  • 4-5 medium-size turnip greens, tough stem removed and chopped
  • 1 cup small spinach leaves, torn or chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 15 asparagus spears, tough ends removed and sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup bean broth
  • 1 2-inch piece of Parmesan rind (optional)

In a medium saucepan, add dried rattlesnake beans and fill with water. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, cover and remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 1 hour. In the meantime, cook the pasta, prepare the veggies and start the soup.

In a medium saucepan, cook the ditalini or other small pasta for 10 minutes or just until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Let sit until ready to use.

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and carrots and cook just until they start to sweat, stirring a few times, about 5 minutes.

Add the rest of the veggies and continue to cook until they all start to wilt and soften, about 7 more minutes.  Season with pepper flakes (if using), salt and pepper and stir well. Add vegetable broth, water, bean broth and Parmesan rind (if using).

Add the rattlesnake beans. You will not add the pasta until the soup is almost done. Bring to a boil, partially cover and reduce heat to a slow simmer.

Simmer for one hour or until beans are tender. Add pasta and bring back to a simmer. Remove from heat and serve.

We had a good 2 bowls of this before we sat back and wondered at the incredible flavor of these beans. Rattlesnake beans have a meaty, hearty flavor but cook quickly and stay tender. I love these beans and will definitely add them to my “things you should definitely grow in your vegetable garden” list.

Happy soup season everyone…here’s hoping for an early spring!

lola rugula cold cucumber salad recipe

spicy dilly beans

Green bean overload happens every year in my garden, so it’s a good thing they freeze well. Another great way to preserve them is to pickle them in a spicy brine. Bloody Mary. Red Beer. Hot Tomato. Michelada. Bloody Caesar…if you like your vodka or beer with a bit of tomato juice and a touch of heat, these spicy dilly beans are calling your name. But even if you’re not enjoying an adult beverage, these are good in salads, antipasto platters and straight out of the jar.

You can ramp up the heat with these a number of ways, depending on what you have on hand when you process them. I made this batch 1/2 with crushed dried pepper flakes and 1/2 with hot jalapenos from the garden. Be creative here – fresh and dried peppers both work. The level of heat is also in your hands, so make these your own.

Although this is a recipe for canned dilly beans, you don’t have to process these to enjoy them. Just simmer them for about 10 minutes in the brine, let cool, pop into a covered jar or glass container and refrigerate them. Because of the vinegar, these will keep in the fridge for a few months, no processing required.

This makes about 6 pint jars.

lola-rugula-spicy-dilly-beans-canning-recipe

spicy dilly beans recipe

Brine:

  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 4 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt

Per pint jar:

  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 large fresh dill head
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes OR sliced fresh jalapeno
  • 1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • About 2 cups fresh green beans, cleaned and trimmed (enough to pack the jar)

Sterilize jars, lids and bands for 10 minutes. Leave in hot water until ready to use.

In a large pan, add water, vinegar and pickling salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

In each sterilized jar, place 2 cloves crushed garlic, dill head, dill seed, hot peppers and peppercorns. Pack with green beans.

Pour hot brine over green beans, filling jar to 1/4 inch of rim. Wipe rim clean and seal with lid and band. Repeat for each jar.

Place packed and sealed jars into a boiling hot water bath, making sure water level is at least 1 inch above jars. Cover, reduce to low boil (but make sure water continues to boil) and process for 10 minutes. Carefully remove jars from water and let sit, undisturbed, until cool.

Store for at least 4 weeks before enjoying, to let the flavors really come together.

Any jars that don’t seal can be stored in the fridge.

I can seriously eat a jar of these by myself, that’s how much I love them. And feel free to switch this up with apple cider vinegar – it’s just as delicious, with a little different tang.

These little beauties also make great gifts, so something to keep in mind as your garden is winding down.

Cheers!

lola rugula cold cucumber salad recipe

sesame green beans

If you grow green beans, you know how quickly they can overwhelm you with their bounty. Here’s one of my go-to, easy ways to serve them. Did I mention this is really, really easy?

lola rugula sesame beans reciipe

Sesame Green Beans Recipe

Take a couple of cups of barely-steamed green beans that have been chilled, toss with a teaspoon or two of toasted sesame seed oil, white and/or black sesame seeds and a pinch of salt and let sit for an hour or so.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it.

If you’ve ever wondered what to do with a lot of green beans, this is my go-to solution. They’re delicious alongside just about everything.

Once in a while, I add a clove of garlic that I’ve minced up but I add garlic to practically everything.

lola rugula sesame beans

I told you this was easy! Enjoy.

lola rugula cold cucumber salad recipe

how to freeze green beans

Yes, it’s the all-exciting post you’ve been waiting for. But I have to tell you, if you grow green beans, or even find a plethora of gorgeous green beans at the farmer’s market, you need to know that they freeze beautifully.

The first key is – freeze them as soon as possible. The longer veggies sit, the more their natural sugars turn to starch. This being said, it’s usually 3-4 days of picking them from my garden before I get to the freezing part. I pick them, lightly rinse them and weed out any bad ones, and then pile them into a sealed storage container or storage bag in my crisper until I’m ready to go.

Here’s my latest haul from the garden – this is about 4 days worth from 8 bush -type plants:

fresh green beans lola rugula

When you’re ready to freeze them, gently wash them again and snap off the stem end of the bean. (the part where it’s been detached from the plant) Discard any that are overly large or have bruising or damage.

Now, you’re going to blanch them. Blanching veggies before freezing is a must-do. This has to do with the enzymes in fresh veggies and blanching them preserves their color and flavor when freezing. I’ve done this process for so many years that I admit I try and find the most time-effective way of doing it, while also involving the least amount of dishes to be washed.

A key to this process is this: Do them in small batches. The water boils faster, the beans cook faster and more evenly, and you’ll be happier with the end result.

Are you ready?

Add about 1 inch of water to a large pan and cover. Bring to a rolling boil. Add about 2 healthy handfuls of green beans to the water, stir them well, cover, and bring back to a quick boil.

how to blanch fresh veggies

Let them go about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. In the meantime, get a large glass of ice ready. You want the beans to turn a bright green before putting them in their ice bath.

When your 90 seconds is up, safely remove the pan of beans from the stove, place in the sink and run cold water over them. Drain them, add more cold water and cup of ice. Let the beans cool for a few minutes.

how to freeze green beans veggies

What the ice water does is stop the cooking process, which is essential. Transfer your cooled beans to a colander.

how to blanch vegetables

See how they’re bright green now? That’s all you need – you don’t want to fully cook them, just change their enzyme structure. Here’s a shot of fresh green beans and blanched green beans, side by side:

how to freeze fresh green beans lola rugulaSee the difference? That’s what you’re looking for in the blanching process.

Dry your pan and repeat this process until all your beans are blanched. Dry your beans on paper towels or a clean towel. The less water you have on the veggies before freezing, the better.

Now you’re ready to package them for the freezer.

using a food saver to freeze vegetablesThis, my friend, is an old school Food Saver. I’d love to say I bought it but it was actually part of my husband’s dowry when we got together. Have I told you how much I love this guy?

Vacuum pack them in serving sizes that are right for you. For me, it’s just my husband and I, so I don’t do them in huge batches. If we’re serving them for the holidays or a dinner party, I simply thaw more than 1 package. Be sure to write the date on the package with a permanent marker.

how to vacuum pack veggiesIn the days before I had my Food Saver, I used Ziploc freezer bags for freezing. Again, add your portions and then do your best to remove most of the air from the freezer bag.

Put your sealed veggies in the fridge for about 2 hours before putting in the freezer – this also helps ease the freezing process and will assure you the best quality frozen veggies.

lola rugula cold cucumber salad recipe

breaking through

I’m a little later this year than planned, due to my schedule, but the veggie garden is looking great.

My green beans were one of the last things I planted and I’m happy they’ve sprouted.

green bean sprout

I already posted a photo of this on my Facebook page, but I thought I’d share it here as well.

There is something so simple yet beautiful about a fresh bean sprout breaking through the soil. And our soil is even more gorgeous than ever this year, thanks to a heaping helping of mushroom compost.

Green beans are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in a home garden and, if you can keep the bunnies and deer from nibbling on the plants, not much else bothers them.

It’s supposed to be a hot one this weekend – in the 90’s, from what I’ve read. I hope you all have your veggies in and will have a chance to sit back and relax a bit.