CANNELLINI BUSH BEAN (Phaseolus vulgaris), is a beloved European bean traditionally used in minestrone and salads or to make a fabulous white bean sauce favored in many French dishes. This is the true Cannellini, not the same as the large white kidney bean often referred to as cannellini. The Cannellini is so popular in Tuscany, Italy that folks there are called "mangiafagiole" or "bean eaters." I have distinct and warm memories of being put to work during summer visits shelling these beans for my Italian Grandma, which she used in canning a family favorite - antipasto. Cannellini have a smooth texture and nutty flavor. The small white beans come wrapped in long, straight, fleshy medium green pods that turn pale yellow as they mature. Sow when soil warms. Use as fresh shelling bean when young or dry for later use. Great for second sowing mid-summer, so get plenty! Bush habit 65-75 days. 50 seeds.
HEALTH BENEFIT: Aside from the fiber and vitamin content that all beans offer, Cannellini (and other white beans) the highest content (107 mg/100g) of a compound called Phosphatidylserine, which boosts cognitive function and memory. Athletes use to ramp up their performance as well. Many commercial source of phosphatidylserine come from bovine brains, not considered a safe source anymore. High in fiber, beans of any kind should be a daily part of your diet as they are colon protectors and help to reduce LDL cholesterol. Packed with nutrients, beans are rich in folates, Vitamins B and A, and minerals such as iron, copper, manganese, calcium, and magnesium. Be sure to add some type of bean to your diet every day for optimum health!
TRIPLE THREAT CHOCOLATE COOKIES: Yes, this recipe uses cannellini, so it is waaaay healthier that its title implies. Adapted from Chef Rocco de Spirito:
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup white cannellini beans, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp light agave syrup
3 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups stevia baking blend
1/4 cup dark chocolate-covered cacao nibs
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
>Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.
>In the bowl of a food processor, combine vanilla, cocoa, cannellini beans, and the agave syrup, and blend the mixture until smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl halfway through blending.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip attachment, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually beat in the artificial sweetner. >Continue to beat the whites until they are creamy and nearly stiff. Add 1/3 of the egg-white mixture to the cocoa bean mixture in the food processor. Blend to combine, for about 30 seconds. In 2 batches, fold the lightened cocoa mixture into the egg whites until they are almost fully combined. Add cacao nibs to the batter. Fold batter until cacao nibs are evenly dispersed and cocoa mixture is completely incorporated.
>Drop mounded spoonfuls of batter onto the prepared sheets. Spread batter out to form cookies about 2½ inches in diameter. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the cookies.
>Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans one turn halfway through baking. Using a metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.
1.4 g fat
2 g protein
9 g carbohydrates
0 mg cholesterol
2 g fiber
32 mg sodium
ZUPPA DI FAGIOLI RECIPE: A fairly standard Italian soup recipe, open to revision and culinary artistry from your own garden! Make in abundance and freeze so you can enjoy its fulfilling warmth all winter while you pour over the new garden catalogues! SOAK OVERNIGHT: 1/2 C Cannellini Beans and 1/2 C True Red Cranberry Beans, rinse. Begin your soup in a stockpot by gently SAUTEEING your seasonings in good olive oil: chopped onion, leek, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary, thyme, parsley. When the onion is translucent. ADD vegetable broth (there are now very good low sodium broths in the supermarket and peeled/de-seeded chopped tomatoes (awesome if you can use white tomatoes) using all juices. Let it just come to a simmer and then add your rinsed beans. SLOWLY SIMMER UNCOVERED until beans are soft. PROCESS IN BLENDER about 1/3 of the soup and return the mix to the pot. ADD chopped kale (I like to use the "baby kale" thinnings of my fall starts for this soup) basil, salt & freshly ground pepper to taste and when the soup is "right" serve garnished with grated cheese (any good Italian cheese, depending on your taste) and serve with croutons or crusty bread. Buono appetito!
GROWING TIP: All beans and peas are legumes and benefit from "inoculating" with rhizobecteria. These bacteria do the work of taking gaseous nitrogen from the air and "fixing" or concentrating it in pink root nodules which then slough off, adding nitrogen to the soil in a form other plants can take up as a nutrient. Inoculating your beans and peas will increase germination, and the health of your plants, helping them growing large roots and thus healthier plants. Growing pole beans with corn provides an extra shot of nitrogen to the corn, a wonderful natural symbiotic relationship that the Native Americans understood very well. You will see a big difference in overall results. Healthy legumes should also be turned under the soil when production ends as they are excellent green manure for your next crops.