Back to the basics: beans, corn and wheat

Spring plants and dry beans
Tiger Eye beans at the Mill City Farmers Market. Submitted photo

Juicy tomatoes and ultra-fresh greens typically come to mind when you hear farmers market, but Mill City Farmers Market is getting people to think about a few different crops: beans, corn and wheat.

But don’t confuse Mill City’s farmers with your average cereal crop grower. Vendors are not only vetted for quality, but also for their dedication to the market’s sustainability statement, which among other things prohibits the use of pesticides and GMO seed.

Heirloom beans

Home cooks should be sure to pick up a pound or two of Bean Market’s heirloom beans at the winter market. The farm, owned by Hmong refugees Xai and Tongsee, specializes in growing dozens of varieties of dry beans. Unlike canned beans or stale plastic bags of dry beans in the supermarket, these are full of vibrant flavor when slow cooked like in the accompanying recipe.

Handmade organic tortillas

Sin Fronteras Farm is a new addition to Mill City’s winter market and will only be there through the end of April. Eduardo follows traditional methods he learned from his family to turn organic corn, water and lime into packages of handmade, organic warm tortillas!

Heritage Flour

Sunrise Flour Mill is a small mill in North Branch, specializing in organic grains and heritage wheat. Heritage wheat predates modern, commercial varieties so it is more digestible for most people with gluten sensitivity. In addition to wheat products, Marty and Darrold also sell rye flour, oatmeal, oat flour and heritage pancake mix.

Learn more at millcityfarmersmarket.org.


beans with labels at the bean market

Stewed Heirloom Beans with Rosemary and Squash

Recipe courtesy of the Mill City Farmers Market

This makes a great side dish to go along with roast chicken or braised pork. It can also be turned into a vegan entree with the addition of more roasted vegetables, mushrooms or fresh greens.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (about 21/2 cups) dried beans such as Tiger Eye or Jacob’s Cattle from Bean Market, picked over and rinsed, soaked in water overnight
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, medium dice
  • 1 large onion, medium dice
  • 3 whole cloves garlic
  • 1 pinch chili flakes
  • 1 stem fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups winter squash, medium dice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Method

Soak the beans overnight in a large bowl, in enough water to cover them by 2 inches.

The next day, preheat the oven to 450. Drain the water from the beans. Add the olive oil, carrots and onions to a large Dutch oven and saute over medium-high heat until the vegetables are nicely browned. Add the beans to the pot, along with 3 whole cloves of garlic, chili flakes, rosemary and 1 teaspoon of salt. Pour enough water over the ingredients to cover them by 2 inches. Simmer the beans, adding more water if necessary to keep them covered, for 30 to 50 minutes, or until they are tender.

While the beans are cooking, spray a large sheet tray with cooking spray and add the squash, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat the squash thoroughly. Roast the squash for 15–20 minutes or until softened and nicely browned. Add the squash to the beans and simmer for 3 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

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