Fresh shelling beans or “shellies” such as black-eyed peas, crowder peas, and butter beans can be hard to come by. Shelling beans have edible seeds, but the pods must be removed which can be a cumbersome and time-consuming task. Many farmers prefer to let the beans dry before harvesting because the beans are easier to remove from the pods and they are a shelf-stable crop that can easily last all year, providing income for the farmer when other crops might not grow well.
Partly due to being difficult to find, fresh shelling beans are often overlooked in the kitchen. Last July, I was visiting North Carolina, one of the places in the country where you can count on getting fresh shellies, and I found myself savoring their subtle sweetness and surprising tenderness. Here in Northern California, we can also get black-eyed peas and an assortment of other fresh beans such as cranberry (borlotti), marrow fat, and black (cocoa) beans.
If you can locate a market or a friend with a garden who’s willing to share, stock up, and get cooking! Fresh shelling beans are quick and easy to prepare and provide deep flavor and a creamy texture.
I am often asked how to cook fresh shelling beans in an Instant Pot or other pressure cookers. In general, treat fresh shelling beans like you would rehydrated (dry) beans, yet cook them for a shorter time and with less liquid. They can be steamed, fried, sautéed, and made into soups. In a pressure cooker, you should expect your beans to cook quickly. Most recipes call for less than 5 minutes at pressure, often with a quick release to prevent the beans from turning into a pile of mush.
Fresh Shelling beans can be prepared in a variety of ways, and the result is often delicious. A pressure cooker speeds up the process and provides consistent results. Another bonus to using fresh shelling beans is eliminating the need to soak the beans overnight.
As we move into late summer and early fall, fresh shelling beans should be making their appearance in farmer’s markets and maybe even at your local grocer. They require little preparation and make a delicious addition to simple salads and can serve as a meat substitute in pasta dishes. Today, I’m excited to share with you my recipe for Fresh Shelling Beans with Summer Vegetables from my book Vegan Under Pressure.
Fresh Shelling Beans with Summer Vegetables
This dish screams summer or early fall, which is when fresh shelling beans are in season. Use any variety you can get your hands on. Locally, we get black-eyed peas, Marrowfat, borlotti, and a few others. Here I combine them with tomatillos, tomatoes, and corn, but fresh beans pair well with most other late-summer vegetables. I like to add toasted cumin for the best flavor, although you could use Italian seasonings and add fresh basil or Italian parsley.
The amount of cooking liquid to use here varies. This is because some beans are drier than others. If they are extremely fresh, the beans will need less liquid, so you might find the amount stated to be a little more than you need. Also, different varieties of beans might require slightly different cooking times, generally between 2 and 5 minutes at pressure. Start with 2 minutes and see how well they are cooked. Since so little liquid is used, feel free to do a natural release as the pressure ought to drop quickly. If the pressure is not down in 5 minutes, do a quick release.
2 minutes high pressure; natural release or quick release after 5 minutes
½ cup diced onion
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup diced bell pepper, any color
2 to 3 teaspoons minced hot chile, such as jalapeño or serrano, optional
2 to 3 teaspoons ground toasted cumin
1½ to 2 cups shelled beans (1 to 2 pounds unshelled)
½ to ¾ cup vegetable stock
¼ cup diced tomatillo
½ cup diced tomato
½ cup fresh corn, optional
Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or cilantro, for garnish
- Heat a stovetop pressure cooker over medium heat or set an electric cooker to sauté. Add the onion and dry sauté for
2 minutes. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and chile pepper if using; cook for 1 minute longer.
- Add the cumin, beans, and stock. Lock on the lid. Bring to high pressure; cook for 2 minutes. Let the pressure come down
naturally. Carefully remove the lid, tilting it away from you.
- Taste, and if the beans are not tender yet, bring back to high pressure and cook for 1 to 3 minutes, depending upon how firm
the beans are. Carefully remove the lid.
- Stir in the tomatillo, tomato, and corn, if using. Simmer for 2 to 4 minutes on sauté (or replace the lid and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes), until the tomato starts to break down. Remove the lid carefully. Serve garnished with chopped fresh herbs.
Reprinted with permission from Vegan Under Pressure, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, Jill Nussinow, MS, RDN