Every September, my local grocery store stocks fresh cranberry beans for about two weeks. This year, I bought a few pounds which I then shelled, blanched and froze. This recipe from Sunday Suppers at Lucques is meant to be made in the summer to take advantage of fresh shell beans, but I froze my beans so that I could enjoy summery recipes even when it's cold outside.
The lamb shanks are marinated in olive oil, lemon zest, rosemary, garlic and thyme overnight. For the braise, the shanks are browned and cooked in a mixture of white wine, chicken stock, fennel, carrot onion and herbs at 325 degrees for about 2 and a half hours. The braising liquid is strained and reduced, and the shanks are toppped with a black olive tapenade. The shanks are served on a shell bean ragout.
For the ragout, I sauteed garlic, onion, shallot and thyme in some olive oil. The cooked beans are tossed in the onion mixture to coat and warm through, then finished with salt, pepper, opal basil and parsley. I used a combination of cooked cranberry beans, lima beans and wax beans. The original recipe called for haricots verts, but I thought the wax beans would make for a more colorful end result.
The final plating is a few scoops of shell bean ragout, topped with a lamb shank and a dollop of tapenade. I loved all the colors and textures of the beans, and the tapenade added a nice saltiness and depth of flavor to the lamb. I'm out of cranberry beans now, so I'll probably have to wait until next year to make this one again. That being said, you could probably get away with frozen lima beans and green beans if you didn't want to wait that long.