These gorgeous beans are a specialty of Eli and Amanda at Chispas Farms in Albuquerque. They are a snap bean, with a crisp, juicy texture like green beans. In fact, you’ll often see green, yellow or purple snap beans at the markets in summer. Some are wide and flat like these, others are extremely long and thin. No matter what the size or color, be sure to choose firm beans with a smooth, taut skin. If the skin is leathery or the pods are bulging around the seeds, the beans were picked too late and they will be tough.
For any type of snap beans, to obtain the best texture, you should boil them in a big pot of water for 3-5 minutes. They will turn bright green, and the pot may not even quite return to a boil before they are done. If you steam them they get a bit rubbery, and if you saute them they don’t cook fast enough. Drain them in a colander and spray them down with cold water to stop the cooking so they retain their crisp texture.
Here is my favorite recipe for snap beans, adapted from Mollie Katzen’s recent cookbook, The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without. It’s great served hot, or as a cold salad. Chispas farms also specializes in rare and heirloom garlic, so if you see them at the market, ask them about the varieties they have now – they all have different flavors, and the selection changes every week.