For the Braised Shelling Beans
1 ½ - 2 lbs shelling beans
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced or small dice
3 cloves garlic, smashed or sliced
Sprigs of fresh herbs (i.e. thyme, rosemary)
3 strips lemon zest
1-2 dried chiles or 1 teaspoon chile flakes (optional)
To prepare the shelling beans, snap the tip and “unzip” the bean by removing the membranous string running along the top of the pod from base to tip. Using your fingernails, gently pull the pods apart at the seam, then use your finger to release the beans.
In a large saucepot over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and a few big pinches of salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until softened and turning translucent. Add the fresh herbs, lemon zest, and chile, and sauté for another minute. Add the beans, and cover them with water by 1”. Bring everything up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover with the lid ajar. Cook for 30-45 minutes (note: cooking time will vary depending on type of beans, so begin checking them around 30 minutes). Beans are done when they are tender and there is no crunch, but still have some firmness to them.
For the Sage Pesto (makes ⅓ cup)
Leaves from 7 sprigs of fresh sage (approx. ¼ cup, packed), very finely minced
1 garlic clove, grated
¼ cup olive oil
Juice from ½ lemon
¼ finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese (optional, but recommended)
1 tablespoon finely chopped toasted walnuts
Freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Alternatively, you can do this in a food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle, just wait to fold in the cheese and nuts by hand at the end. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Toasted or grilled slices of sourdough bread
Thinly sliced shallots
Olive oil, to finish
Drain a portion of the cooked shelling beans from their liquid (save the broth for soups or sauces!). In a small bowl, toss together the arugula, fennel, shallots, a pinch of flaky salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Arrange over the bread slices, spoon some of the beans onto the bed of arugula, and drizzle some of the sage pesto over everything. Drizzle finishing olive oil and garnish with a sprinkle of flaky salt and black pepper. Enjoy immediately!