Abra Berens' cranberry bean salad w/ roasted carrots + mojo de ajo
I came to know cranberry beans in the kitchen at Petersham Nurseries under the tutelage of Skye Gyngell. She called them by their Italian name, borlotti beans. Similar to a pinto bean, cranberry beans are a medium-size bean with mottled pink and white coloring. They can be cooked from dried or fresh, pulled straight from their long pods, and any bean can be substituted if you remember that the cooking time of the bean is directly correlated to the size and freshness of the bean at hand. –Abra Berens
- 1 lb [450 g] dried cranberry beans
- 1 onion (about 8 oz [225 g]), cut into chunks (optional)
- 10 sprigs thyme, tied in a bundle (optional)
- 3 bay leaves (optional)
- 1 tsp salt, plus more for the carrots
- 2 lb [900 g] carrots, cut in half
- Olive oil
- Chili flakes (optional)
- 1 recipe Mojo de Ajo (recipe below)
- 10 sprigs cilantro, stems and leaves roughly chopped
- ½ cup [100 g] pepitas, toasted
In a large pot, cover the beans with water by 2 in [5 cm]. Add the onion, thyme, and bay leaves (if using). Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender (anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes, depending on whether the beans have been soaked and their freshness). When the beans are tender, add the salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove the herbs and discard.
Preheat the oven to 400°F [200°C]. Toss the carrots with a glug of olive oil, a couple pinches of salt, and a pinch of chili flakes (if using). Roast the carrots until deeply caramelized on the outside and tender on the inside, about 40 minutes.
To serve, spoon a heaping serving of cooked beans per person into a bowl and gently fold in ¼ cup [60 ml] of mojo de ajo per serving. Transfer the beans into a serving dish or individual bowls, portion the carrots evenly among the serving dishes, and garnish with the chopped cilantro and a handful of pepitas.
Mojo de ajo
- 1 cup [250 ml] neutral oil
- 20 garlic cloves (4 oz [120 g]), peeled and left whole
- 2 sprigs oregano
- 3 limes (about 41⁄2 oz [135 ml]), zest and juice
- 1 orange (about 3 oz [90 ml]), zest and juice
Preheat the oven to 300°F [150°C]. Combine the olive oil, garlic cloves, and oregano in a small ovenproof pot. Bake for 45 minutes or until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Alternatively, stew on the stove over very low heat, checking on it regularly. Allow to cool. Remove the oregano sprigs, squeezing any oil clinging to the leaves back into the pot. Add the citrus zest and juice and a couple of pinches of salt. Stir to combine, lightly smashing the garlic cloves with the back of the spoon to make a thick, oily sauce.
Excerpted from Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes by Abra Berens with permission from Chronicle Books, 2021. Photographs © EE Berger.