ASHEVILLE, NC – Beans are a big deal around these parts. In fact, its thought that more heirloom beans (traditional cultivars like greasy beans) originated in WNC than anywhere else in the country. Today, more than a dozen varieties are grown here. To honor the history and current harvest, they get the star treatment on restaurant menus throughout July in Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Get Local campaign.
Enjoy local green beans alongside kidneys and limas in a classic three bean salad at downtown Asheville’s Early Girl Eatery. Because local beans are so fresh, owners John and Julie Stehling also like to go simple in preparation: sautéing them with garlic as a special seasonal side.
At West End Bakery in West Asheville, they’ll highlight local green beans in almost everything thanks to a steady supply grown especially for them at the Pisgah View Community Peace Garden. Dishes will feature Fortex beans, a favorite stringless variety. “We’ll do a sesame green bean and quinoa salad, and soups will be things like summer vegetable with yellow squash, zucchini, tomato, and green beans,” co-owner Cathy Cleary promises. When it comes to sandwiches, she says to expect items like a grilled goat cheese with dilly beans (pickled green beans) and tomato.
If you want to enjoy local beans at home this month, be sure to shop your neighborhood tailgate market. Many varieties can be found, including the Royal Burgundy bean. Often called a magic bean by children, the Royal Burgundy changes colors from a deep purple to green when cooked.
For a complete list of participating restaurants, visit the Get Local page of asapconnections.org. There, you’ll also find the 2011 calendar of featured foods and a Get Local school calendar; this month, cafeteria menus feature local berries. Browse the nearly 400 farms and businesses offering local beans this season in ASAP’s Local Food Guide online at buyappalachian.org.