Neenah Farmer’s Market – Amethyst Beans

Rebecca drags herself out of bed and heads to the Neenah Farmer’s Market

 It took me longer than I’d care to admit to get myself out of bed and up to the Neenah Farmer’s market this year. I could make excuses for myself, or just own up to my college kid sleeping habits of staying up too late and sleeping in

But I made it! A bit bleary eyed, but ready to find some interesting local produce to cook with. I circled Shattuck Park, appraising each booth and its offerings, admiring everything from sugar snap peas so large they practically burst out of their shells to diminutive, jewel-like raspberries. Buried in the back of a booth, I spotted a bag of deep purple legumes labeled “Amethyst Beans” and snatched them up instantly.
“They’re beautiful,” I murmured to the vendor.
“Aren’t they?” she said with a smile, before apologetically adding, “unfortunately they don’t stay purple after you cook them.” I didn’t mind. I could imagine parents preparing these amethyst beans for their children as a way to wow them into eating vegetables. Purple beans are just green beans wearing a disguise, magically transforming when exposed to heat.

I have mixed feelings about green beans. I can almost smell the memories of terrible, elementary school lunch green beans that came in industrial sized cans. My mother would wrinkle her nose in disgust as I arrived home with that awful scent sticking to my clothes and hair. On the other hand, I have memories of verdant beans cooked simply in butter and salt, yielding ever so slightly to my teeth before bursting into a bright, fresh flavor. I never had daydreams about green beans until I tried those.

Snapped Bean

I suppose I could have prepared a green bean casserole with my farmer’s market find, but I’ve always felt somewhat suspicious of the potluck staple (for no discernible reason really, I’m just strange). Besides, I didn’t want to drown the beans in canned mushroom soup, completely masking their flavor. So I chose a recipe that would feature the green beans more prominently. They turned out wonderfully, tender but still slightly crisp. Just a note, this recipe does include both chicken broth and bacon grease (yes, you heard me right), so if you are a vegetarian or just opposed to the idea, you can sub in vegetable broth and butter or olive oil.

Finished Beans

Fresh Green Beans
recipe from The Pioneer Woman

1 lb green beans

1 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

2 tablespoons bacon grease (can substitute 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil)

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt (can substitute regular table salt; use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon)

Ground black pepper
Snap the stem ends of green beans, or cut them off in a big bunch with a knife if you’d like.  Melt bacon grease in a skillet over medium low heat. Add garlic and onions and cook for a minute. Then add green beans and cook for a minute until beans turn bright green. Add the chicken broth, chopped red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Turn heat to low and cover with a lid, leaving lid cracked to allow steam to escape. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until liquid evaporates and beans are fairly soft, yet still a bit crisp. You can add more chicken broth during the cooking process, but don’t be afraid to let it all cook away so the onions and peppers can caramelize.

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