Please don't ask me to tell you the name of my favorite bean. It changes daily! I love all the heirlooms we grow for different reasons.
But if I were to be sent to a desert island, these are the five varieties I couldn't do without, even though I'd probably have a different list tomorrow.
(Please Note: We will ship the following beans. This may vary from the photo above.)
SANTA MARIA PINQUITO:A very small, chili-type bean that is loaded with California history. Most of us thought the Santa Maria "Pinks" were brought in with the migrant citrus workers of the 1950s (who also introduced us to the tri-tip) but now there's some thought that it was a crop during the Mission era. Whatever its origins, it's delicious and meaty and the perfect match for any barbecue, chili or even salad.
MIDNIGHT BLACK: Midnight is a true black turtle bean with a rich, traditional black bean flavor and texture, unlike our Black Valentine, which is a wonderful black bean, but it's more in the kidney bean family.Use in any recipe calling for black or turtle beans or just enjoy on their own. These are incredibly fresh so little, if any, soaking is required.
CHRISTMAS LIMA: A true lima bean, originally from Peru (hence Lima), this gorgeous bean has all the "meat" of limas but with a chestnut flavor. They're big and bold and can stand up to a chile sauce or curry or simply be enjoyed with a drizzle of olive oil and a few grates of dry goat cheese. One of my most successful inventions was cooked Christmas Limas in a gorgonzola sauce. I still swoon a little when I think about this dish!
CLASSIC CRANBERRY: Cranberry beans only look like cranberries. And even then, I don't quite see it. Originally from South America, these beans have been bred around the world and have become Madeira, Borlotti, Tounges of Fire, Wren's Egg and many more. This is the classic from Colombia and are perfect for any recipe calling for a "cranberry" bean.
YELLOW EYE: Unlike Navy beans, which have a slightly gummy, babyfood texture, Yellow Eyes are dense, creamy and delicious. Great Northerns can be plain boring. Replace Navys or Great Northerns with Yellow Eyes and your dish becomes a feast.
You can have them on their own or use them with a smoked ham hock. I don't think there's a better bean for Senate Navy Bean Soup. Also excellent for a simple vegetarian soups.