Flageolet beans are often cited as “the caviar of beans.” One of my favorite recipes for Lamb Shoulder from Chocolate & Zucchini calls for this pretty, pale green, kidney-shaped legume and, since I’d never seen them in West Michigan grocery stores, I have always substituted white canellini beans. Until I spotted them on the shopping list at West Michigan Co-op.
Turns out, there’s a farm in Holland, Michigan, called Shady Side Farm that grows flageolet beans, in addition to a variety of heirloom beans. (Up until a year or two ago, I didn’t even know Michigan is one of the top producers of dry beans!) It was nice to see that Shady Side Farm had recently set up a booth at the Kerstmarkt, a Dutch-style open-air holiday market in Holland, Michigan.
I was so excited to make the lamb shoulder recipe again–this time with the flageolet beans. The recipe is easy but it does require planning ahead, as do most recipes that use dry beans, because they need to soak in twice their volume of water overnight.
In the morning, rinse and drain the beans. For about a half pound, I sliced one large onion and sautéed it with the beans in olive oil, cooking for 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions were soft.
Then you pour in cold chicken stock (or cold water plus one bouillon cube) to cover the beans, bring them to a simmer, and cook for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the beans are tender but still holding their shape.
Season with salt 30 minutes into the cooking, and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper just before serving.