Spring Pasta with Foraged Palo Verde Beans

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Did you know that Palo Verde tree is the state tree of Arizona? There are two main species of Palo Verde trees native to the Sonoran Desert: Foothill Palo Verde, Parkinsonia microphylla and Blue Palo Verde, Parkinsonia florida. You’ll see other cultivars in nurseries, like the beautiful Desert Museum Palo Verde, but they all come from these two. Desert Foothill is the one you will see most often growing wild in the region. The pods of this tree are bulbous with this sections between each bean. The Blue Palo Verde pods tend to be flatter and wider. Both are edible. And by edible, I mean delicious, not just able to be consumed without dying, as “edible” forgaed things often are.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

ARIZONA

FORAGING

RECIPE

SELF SUFFICIENCY

Palo Verde Pods have a Short Season

Palo Verde trees bloom sometime between March and May. The entire desert becomes a sea of yellow because of them. Pay attention toward the end of May because when those flowers fall off the seed pods begin to grow. Take note of them in the areas you live and travel through. Each tree in each neighborhood will be ready at slightly different times, and once they are, you have only about a week or so to pick them before the beans become unpalatable to eat fresh. (You can collect them later to use as dried beans.)

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

How to use Palo Verde Beans

The best way to describe Palo Verde beans is to liken them to edamame (fresh soybeans). The outer pod is tough and inedible while the inside bean is bright, sweet and slightly crunchy. You can prepare Palo Verde beans the same way you do edamame by either boiling the entire pod in salted water and then popping the beans out as you go, or by shelling the beans first and using them more like peas. Shelling them is tedious work, but well worth the effort.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

Here is a yummy recipe to inspire you to start using Palo Verde beans. The sweet pop of the beans is such a Spring flavor that goes perfectly with the cream, feta and herbs.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

Full Recipe in Details

This recipe is super simple. The cream sauce is thin, unlike an alfredo. It is meant to be a light and fresh. Use what you have in your kitchen. Replace the cream with sour cream, change out the feta for parmesan or goat cheese. Try different herbs and seasonings. If you have native mint in your garden, add if for a pop of fresh flavor.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 pkg spaghetti
  • 1 cup shelled Palo Verde beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped native mint (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
GUIDE / INSTRUCTIONS
  • 1
    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • 2
    Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook pasta for the al dente texture, according to package instructions.
  • 3
    3-5 minutes before the pasta is fully cooked, add the Palo Verde beans to the pot and cook it with the pasta.
  • 4
    Drain the pasta and Palo Verde beans.
  • 5
    In a large bowl or pan, add the olive oil, cream, basil, mint and parmesan cheese.
  • 6
    Pour the drained pasta and beans into the bowl and gently toss to combine.
  • 7
    Season with salt, pepper and pepper flakes to taste.
  • 8
    Crumble feta on top.
  • 9
    Toss a few mint and basil leaves on top for garnish.
pouring cream onto pasta
NOTES

The palo verde beans take some time to shell, so it’s nice to simply sit down and watch a show while doing it. You can store the beans in the fridge for a few days before using them, so do a few at a time if you need to. They also freeze well in the shell or out.

For more things to forage in Arizona, check out Jim Slattery’s book, Southwest Foraging.

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