with legumes are growing in popularity, especially during
the summer months,” Holleman notes.
Black beans are among the other beans Semon has on his
menu. His barbecue sides include a salad of yams, white
corn and black beans.
Among his Painted Plate Catering vegetarian offerings are
lentil loaf and black bean cakes, which he binds with some
egg white and breadcrumbs. Or, he combines the beans with
sauteed poblano peppers and dusts them with breadcrumbs
or cornmeal before pan-frying.
“Vegetarians don’t want your version of eggplant Parmesan.
Beans give their offerings more interest,” Semon says.
Black beans and pinto beans also are popular with his
growing Latino clientele. “They are very interested in the
kind of beans we serve.”
ON THE MENU
David Ross, chef/owner of 50 Local in Kennebunk, Maine, is
a fan of legumes, especially those grown in his home state. He
also uses butterscotch calypso beans, in Maine, generally called
yellow eyes, as well as Jacob’s cattle and soldier beans—long
white beans with reddish-brown “soldier” markings at the eye.
He uses them to make a bean spread with olive oil, lemon juice
and spices that is served to every table with housemade bread.
Ross stews beans with veal stock, mustard, butter, oven-roasted tomatoes, chorizo and Swiss chard. He serves the
beans with seared cod or pork chops. “When I buy a whole
pig, I run a special of pork chops and beans,” he says.
He also puts lentils on the menu, and especially likes belugas,
a small black lentil that glistens when it cooks, making it
look like caviar. He pairs the lentils with fish or lamb dishes,
often seasoning them with Indian spices or pancetta or smoky
sausage. “They are very versatile for vegetarian dishes and
stews and soups. I don’t use as many lentils as I do beans,
though, because they aren’t from Maine,” Ross says.
Peanuts are legumes sometimes found in the kitchen of Lemaire,
the fine dining room in the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond,
Va. “Peanut soup is a Virginia tradition,” says Walter Bundy,
executive chef. He serves it occasionally, and notes that it’s a
regular menu item at TJ’s, another restaurant in the hotel.
GROW YOUR OWN LEGUMES
Legumes are a good addition to
menu planning, and can be fun
in the kitchen garden, as well.
They are easy to grow, but need
space and warmth. For detailed
instructions on how to grow
legumes, go to www.heirloom-organics.com. For heirloom seeds,
To test the process before you
make a commitment to serious
legume growing, do what Anne
Coleman did. An avid gardener,
Coleman trained to be a chef at
Northampton Community College
in Bethlehem, Pa. After working
in various culinary positions, she
“retired” to write about food for
Disney’s Family.com website and
raise her seven children. She
continued to garden.
One day, she decided to try
and grow black beans from the
contents of a soup mix. She stuck
a couple of beans in the ground,
and they grew. She says beans
are easy to grow, but she cautions
others not to be impatient, as
she was. Be sure to let them dry
thoroughly on the plant.
Sea Island red pea bisque is a fairly regular menu item that
Bundy makes from the traditional pea used not only in
Virginia, but in much of Southern cooking. Ruddy and small,
with a rich creaminess, the pea was used in early versions of
hoppin’ John. To make the bisque, Bundy combines the peas
with smoked Surry sausage (made in Virginia), spicy espelette
pepper oil (from French chile peppers) and grilled scallions.
White beans—especially great Northern, lentils and black
beans play a role in Bundy’s menu. He also serves kidney
beans with fresh venison, and notes that “favas and lima
beans are big for us. Legumes help us diversify our menu and
are popular with our customers.”
SUZANNE HALL HAS BEEN WRITING ABOU T CHEFS, RES TAURAN TS, FOOD AND WINE FROM
HER HOME IN SODDY DAIS Y, TENN., FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS.