Dragon’s Lingerie—which could be a provocative line of ladies’ underwear— is the whimsical name of this heirloom snap bean. Long, flat, rumpled like a dragon’s tail, its pale yellow-green pods are curiously streaked and speckled in periwinkle. So, these are not of the fearsome and fiery St. George-slaying sort—more the fanciful stuff of a benevolent fairy tale dragon.
Its nature is ephemeral, making a brief end-of-September garden appearance. Like many beans of special and mottled color, its particular beauty is found in its raw state. Fleeting, that dappled dragon vanishes, goes all plain after a plunge into simmering water.
What retains, though, is as distinctive: meaty pods cradling small beans that pop with sweetness.
I wanted to cook these mythic beans with another end-of-September harvest: Tomatoes. Telltale of the tail of summer! I have but a few Bradleys, small and gnarled, that have ripened, and still-prolific cherry tomatoes–bright reds, sungolds, a couple of blushed peach.
I imagined that the Dragon’s initial frilly look belied its sturdy character.
And, that a quick saute of a lots of garlic and cherry tomatoes–shaken in the skillet to light char—would bring complementary assertive notes to the beans. Simple and rustic seemed to be calling. How about introducing a pasta–and elevate this from a side dish to a meal?
Rachel over at Rachel Eats has often sung the praises of Garofalo pasta that she finds in Rome. Recently I was surprised (and oh-so-pleased!) to come across Garofalo’s whole wheat penne at my neighborhood grocery, and should you find it at your market, by all means, make the buy! The flavor is excellent–hearty, with good “tooth,” an ideal match for our beans.
I’ve kept the recipe very basic. You are welcome to embellish with fresh herbs–thyme or basil are indeed naturals—and a few shreds of pecorino romano could be quite nice, too.
But, I was in a mood…the herbs and the cheese seemed predictable….maybe it was time to Not rely on them…let the veggies speak for themselves…a kind of “let’s see what these dragons lingeries are all about.”
Flavor-wise, they’ve got a lot to offer. I really enjoyed those dragons covered with sauteed garlic and acid-sweet tomatoes. They paired well with the Garofalo penne. I think they’d be grand in a soup.
Too bad those periwinkle streaks and speckles can’t remain.
But, I suspect that makes them rather fun to grow.
GARLICKY DRAGONS LINGERIE SNAP BEANS, TOMATOES, AND WHOLE WHEAT PENNE
1 lb. Dragon’s Lingerie Snap Beans
1 pint Assorted Cherry Tomatoes
1 small head Garlic, slivered
Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 lb. Whole Wheat Penne, such as Garofalo
Clean and snap beans, removing stems. Fill a skillet with water, several slivers of garlic, a little salt and bring to a boil. Plunge in the beans and cook for about 5 minutes. All the purple will disappear before your eyes!
You’ll also hear the pods make a POP sound as they cook.
Remove the beans–they should be tender-crisp.
Cook penne according to package directions, about 10 minutes in lightly salted water. Drain, reserving a little pasta water.
Pour olive oil into gently heated skillet. Increase heat to medium and add tomatoes, garlic, salt, and a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes. Shake the skillet vigorously as the tomatoes char, some releasing their juices. Take care that the garlic does not burn.
Toss the beans, pasta, tomato-garlic saute together, so that the oil and juices coat the beans and pasta well. Taste for salt and heat.