Fresh Cranberry Bean and Arugula Salad

July 24th, 2009 by megan · 13 Comments

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Fresh Cranberry Beans

Fresh Cranberry Beans

It took me a while to catch on to the beauty and deliciousness of fresh shelling beans. I think I had always been unsure of the best way to cook them, my primary bean experiences having been with the dried and canned varieties. Then I found fresh cranberry beans at my local farmer’s market. I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes I get a little emotional about my food – I mean, these beans were just so beautiful, both in the pod and out. I shed a little tear. (Unfortunately, the beautiful mottled cranberry color of the fresh, uncooked beans gets cooked out, leaving you with a rather boring-looking greyish-cream bean. But the memory of the raw bean lingers on.)

I made a super-simple salad with a bit of arugula, but think of this post as a fresh bean primer – you can alter this recipe in so many ways. Experiment with different types of greens (finely shredded kale would be nice, or chopped endive). Add a chopped fresh chile. Experiment with the types of herbs you use. Add a pinch of cumin and a squeeze of lime juice. Or a squashed anchovy. Pile up on toasted bread rubbed with a clove of garlic. Serve the salad while the beans are still a bit warm, or at room temperature. The possibilities, as they say, are endless.

If you can’t find fresh beans, dried or canned are an acceptable substitution, but I implore you to try to find fresh beans at least once this summer. There is a tremendous difference in texture and I think you’ll like it. Marcella Hazan taught me how to cook fresh beans in her awesome Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. This recipe is loosely based on several of her recipes.

Fresh Cranberry Bean and Arugula Salad

Fresh Cranberry Bean and Arugula Salad

(Serves 3-4 as an appetizer or side dish)

1 pound fresh cranberry or other fresh beans in the shell
1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
The juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh herbs, finely chopped (either rosemary, sage, chives, parsley, or cilantro)
1 cup baby arugula leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Shell the fresh beans. Put the beans in a medium, heavy pot and cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and simmer gently for about an hour, or until the beans are tender. (Note: do not salt the water.)
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, olive oil, lemon or lime juice and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  3. Drain the beans and gently rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
  4. Toss the beans in the dressing. Taste and correct for salt – you will probably need to add quite a bit more salt at this point. Add the fresh herbs to taste and the baby arugula leaves. Toss very gently to combine. Add a few grindings of black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.


The Duo Dishes Jul 24, 2009 at 12:29 pm

So this is the 2nd time we’ve ever seen or heard of a cranberry bean. Do they have a specific taste??? The color of the raw beans is great.

katiek @kitchensidecear Jul 24, 2009 at 12:38 pm

i like the imagery of a squashed anchovy. its an unfortunate end to what would otherwise be a ok existence (swimming around + being packed in oil/salt coffin).

I bit of farro in here would be delicious too! chewy with a bite.

ABowlOfMush Jul 24, 2009 at 1:54 pm

I’ve never tried cranberry beans before. They look very pretty!

Daily Spud Jul 25, 2009 at 4:58 am

My main experience of fresh beans is with french beans & runner beans, that are cooked with pods and all, though I quite fancy the idea of growing other kinds of beans (like those cranberry beans, which would look great in the garden!) I can imagine that it would be quite a different taste experience to dried or canned beans.

maggie Jul 26, 2009 at 9:42 pm

I’ve always wondered about the best way to cook fresh shelling beans…and I’ve always been intimidated by them at the market. Thanks for posting this!

megan Jul 27, 2009 at 9:16 am

Duo – they taste like the most delicious, creamy white beans you’ve ever had. It’s mostly the texture difference that makes them so much more delicious.

megan Jul 27, 2009 at 12:18 pm

This is kind of like Bittman’s #19 in his 101 Summer Salads post. I think I’m going to give up blogging and just let Bittman do it.

liz {zested} Jul 29, 2009 at 8:35 am

Thanks for posting the basics – I’ve never actually cooked a shelling bean. I never ate them growing up so I didn’t really know where to start. But I was recently blown away by the difference in fresh beans at a friend’s dinner party. Can’t wait to give this a try.

priscilla (a.k.a. ayma grup) Jul 30, 2009 at 9:37 am

Yum. We serve shelled cranberry beans on an artichoke and arugula salad at work and they really are some of the most delicious beans ever. The creaminess also lends itself to making a dip – just puree with with a bunch of fresh herbs and olive oil. When they are out of season we substitute white beans but they don’t even come close to the same flavor and texture.

ashley - lose 5 pounds Jun 7, 2010 at 1:20 am

I’ve never had the chance to cook a shelling bean. In fact, I don’t recall the last time I’ve had one. I’ll have to put this recipe to good use and add it to my list of salads because it sounds great.

Moe Oct 16, 2010 at 3:35 am

Cooking the beans for the first time. combining them with a fresh spinach salad with a warm chanterelle mush dressing, tossed toghter with a shallot sherry ving vinegrette is about as good as it gets. Serving it with Skate Wing Sauted with a Potato sald al la Franc. Look out world I’ve come to save you all from the horrors of eating and drinking good no great food@@@@@@@@@@@

In Season: Cranberry Beans | The JBF Blog Oct 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm

[...] to Make: Fresh Cranberry Bean and Arugula Salad [Brooklyn Farmhouse] So simple: just beans, arugula, and herbs dressed with a garlicky [...]

Allie Chee Aug 10, 2012 at 10:39 am

Can’t help but love someone who writes about beautiful, energy-giving food as you do! Cranberry beans are gorgeous and this recipe is great.


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