As spring hits the Union Square Greenmarket, all eyes are on the (scant) newly green offerings, but once the broccoli rabe and lettuce are long gone (“Gotta get here early or we sell out this time of year,” says JoAnn Banks of Lani’s Farm Stall with a shrug), there are still plenty of reliable treats to be had. One of these: dried black soybeans.
“They get harvested in the fall, and once they’re dry, they last for a long time, though we sell them pretty quickly,” says Banks, offering me a taste.
“Not a lot of people know this, but you actually pick them once they’re mostly dry, on the vine. Then you put them in crates and let them dry some more, then they’re ready to go.”
The beans in my tasting cup are black, yet, somehow, they taste like something green. They’re vibrant and fresh, not at all mealy.
“They don’t need too much cooking for a dried bean,” nods Banks. “It makes them easier to have about the place. We soak them for an hour, then simmer them for half an hour, picking out the skins and scooping off any foam. That’s it.”
Once cooked, season the beans well, and toss in a little olive oil to keep them moist. Cover and keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Toss them in a little salt and lemon for a simple side, add a handful to a chili or vegetable stew, or mash with roasted garlic, olive oil, and lemon into a dip.