September 22nd, 2010

Dragon’s Lingerie


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.


1 lb. Dragon’s Lingerie Snap Beans
1 pint Assorted Cherry Tomatoes
1 small head Garlic, slivered
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
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.



Posted in Pastas, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables

20 Responses to “Dragon’s Lingerie”
  1. Tracy Says:

    I wonder where their speckles go.

  2. FOODESSA Says:

    Nancy…with a title like that…I could only run over to check out what you were up too. LOL.
    Well, once again, you not only fooled me…you educated me on beans no less.
    I guess we would all be fooled by the cover of this bean ;o)
    Your pasta dish looks very appetizing and I’d like to wish you buon appetito ;o)

    Ciao for now,

  3. Michele Napoli Says:

    A perfect dish for the first day of fall. It’s always fun to play with colorful as well as flavorful ingredients. This dish is a keeper.

  4. Barbara Says:

    That name is a delight, isn’t it? I wish it could retain its color in the salad, don’t you? I love the colors and flavors. Perhaps you could use a few on top as garnish?

  5., Teresa Blackburn Says:

    I simply adore the name Dragon’s Lingerie…Oh what wonderful names come from such simple origins! I think beans are much underrated in our cuisine and find there should be more tributes to them such as yours.

  6. nancy Says:

    Yum! What a great end-of-summer combination. And such a fun name, too. I’ve never tried this bean variety before and it sounds delicious.

  7. mangocheeks Says:

    What a name and what beautiful tantalizing and inviting colours.

    Thank you so much for paying a visit to my blog via Kath. I was really humbled. You have now introduced me to your blog, which I shall now frequent…

  8. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    I’m always so sad when veggies lose their color like that, but these still look nice. I love the name of your recipe.

  9. Fluffy Says:

    Dragon’s Lingerie: Hmmmmm, that name is fraught with interesting possibilities.
    But, for dining–it looks great, hearty, and I like garlicky a lot!

  10. heather Says:

    Yes, a soup! Lovely idea, thank you Nancy.

  11. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Tracy—it’s a great mystery to me!

    Claudia–yes, this title did generate some quirky spam, like for
    cross dressing!

    Barbara, Denise–It disappoints me a little, too, that those colors
    have to vanish in cooking. thank goodness the
    flavor is there.

  12. Cristie Says:

    The beans, the beans! They are so beautiful and I haven’t ever seen them. I’m going to be on the hunt now. I love the treatment you’ve given them. I also have to be looking for the Garofalo brand of whole wheat pasta. Enjoy the beautiful falls days ahead :)

  13. Faith Says:

    What a beautiful bean! I love their name too…they are new to me and I’m definitely going to look for them at the market!

  14. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    I too love the mottled streaks on this bean, and what a fun name – dragon’s lingerie!! These beans are such a tease at the farmer’s market. I buy this exciting exterior for their fun appearance, and always lament when the magical pattern faces away in cooking. But I always buy them again anyway, simply because these beans taste so sweet and good.

  15. Tammy Says:

    I feel embarrassed about the fact that I have shelled them!

  16. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Tammy-you shouldn’t! They are known as shelling beans,too. Some like to harvest them after the pods age and toughen, strictly for the nice beans that they can dry for later use. When I bought mine, I had to make sure the pods were young-tender enough.

  17. Katie@Cozydelicious Says:

    Those beans look awesome! I don’t think I have ever heard of them – I think I’d have remembered that name! I’ll have to see if I can find any – or maybe search out some seeds for my garden next year.

  18. Jenny Says:

    Hi Nance,

    I’ve been off the grid for a while, wow, what I’ve
    been missing! What a wonderful summer bounty!
    I particularly like the birthday waffles from last post-
    Happy Birthday Madeline!

  19. Tom Baker Says:

    Hi Nancy, I’m a first time visitor to your blog. I came here from you Apples and Honey comment on the Cozy, Delicious site. This recipe looks like a bowl full of summer time.

    I would like to try it sometime. I wonder if Whole Foods would have these beans. I’d like to try your recipe because I love garlic and my wife does too. She’s a huge Emeril fan and he got her into the garlic spirit. I bet that would be good with a sprinkling of diced red onion on top. Take care.

  20. rachel Says:

    That is maybe the best name for a bean or indeed a vegetable I have ever heard – Dragon’s Lingerie- fantastic. This recipe sounds great and very much my/our kind of food, I am wondering (in the absence of Dragon’s Lingerie) if it will work with the long, flat Roman beans. I am so glad you found Garofalo and yes you are right it such such a good bite, Vincenzo always says it is robust in the pan and has good clinging ability. Beautifully written as always. Nice to be back.

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