If you visit Park Slope’s Down To Earth Farmers Market on 5th Ave and 4th Street on Sundays, you may recognize William De Filippis and Erica Pratico, the founders of Brooklyn Bean.
The Brooklyn-based duo are always ready to offer up their fresh vegetarian hot soup of the day, often topped other products available at the market, be it, cheese, eggs, or crackers — anything to help support their fellow vendors.
The couple, who are neither vegan nor vegetarian, make most of their purchases at the weekly market, where they are endlessly inspired by asking vendors questions and sharing cooking suggestions. So we asked them to share some of what inspires them and their business, and, of course, a recipe.
PSS: Why beans?
Brooklyn Bean: We were at a turning point with our own diets — trying to incorporate more plant-based, sustainable items. We gravitated towards an ingredient we felt we should be eating more of — and that was affordable, versatile and safe to work with. Also, no one was working exclusively with beans, so we saw an opportunity to capture that market and boost “bean awareness” by showcasing the many varieties and uses. That, mixed with our own entrepreneurial spirit, was the beginning of Brooklyn Bean.
What is a day at the market like?
We are up by 6:30am and at the market by 8am. It takes us about an hour to set up the booth. Will gets the kitchen open by 10am. Most of the day is spent interacting with customers — offering advice on how to cook beans and use our products. Breakdown starts around 3:45pm (later in the summer months).
What gets you out of bed and inspired to sell at the Farmers Market when it’s 20 degrees outside?
Our loyal customers and fellow vendors.
Any exciting plans for your spring and summer Farmers Market menu?
We are going to be open for breakfast! Once the weather warms up we will be selling breakfast burritos with our black bean burgers, farm-fresh eggs, and toppings, all wrapped in a tortilla. We love showcasing other ways to use our burgers. We plan to sell the burritos all day…and we promise to bring back our sliders from time to time. We are also working on our next product — a white bean burger. Stay tuned!
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever seen or experienced in Park Slope?
Most recently — the Old Stone House hawk, who likes to catch and eat his breakfast right behind our booth.
Any interesting Farmers Market stories?
Too many to count! Every weekend is an adventure.
Can you tell me about heirloom beans?
Heirloom beans are just like any other heirloom item — seeds are passed down through generations, yielding a unique crop. They are often interesting colors and shapes, different than most commodity varieties you commonly see. We source our heirlooms regionally — they are all organic, hand-picked, low-yielding varieties. All our beans are sourced close to the harvest, so they are super fresh and cook quickly.
Where do get your beans from?
We source them directly from small farms in the Northeast — Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York.
Your calypso beans are so pretty. Any recipe suggestions for them?
Calypsos are a mild white bean with a potato-like flavor and texture. We love using them in cold, marinated salads, especially with tomatoes, radish, and corn.
Do you have a nice bean dip recipe to share?
With bean cookery it’s not so much about exact recipes, it’s more about mastering procedures and personalizing flavors.
For dips, start with a creamy bean like a Black Turtle, Vermont Cranberry, or Pinto. Soak beans overnight. When ready to cook, drain off soaking water and give beans a rinse. Place in a pot with fresh water; bring to boil. Simmer until done (beans should be soft; add salt in the last 10 minutes of cooking).
Once you have the cooked beans and your mission is to produce a dip you will need three things:
Acid (suggestions: lemon juice, lime juice, vinegars)
Ground spices (suggestions: cumin, smoked paprika, chili powders)
Fat (oil of your choice)
Puree beans in a food processor until smooth. Add in the acid, spices and fat until you reach the desired flavor. Season with salt/pepper.
Work with beans at room temperature. The dip will be much smoother.
For a refined and aerated dip, pass the beans through a sieve.
If you are using olive oil, be sure to stir it in — do not add it while the dip is in the food processor as it could become bitter.
Other ways to flavor dips: Roasted peppers and olives, vegetable purees, or tahini, lemon, and garlic for a play on hummus. Try using roasted garlic instead of raw — it won’t be as overpowering.
Anything else you’d like us to know about Brooklyn Bean?
People often think we are vegan because our products are vegan. We are not. We made the decision to keep our products vegan for many reasons, but mainly so that everyone would be able to enjoy them. They are really just a starting point, a (flavorful) blank canvas, and we encourage all our customers to personalize them at home and be creative. We are so often inspired by what they come up with — crumbling our bean burger over pasta; throwing an egg on top of our Vegetarian Chili; adding some sausage to our Beans & Greens. For us, it’s about responsible eating and taking ownership of what’s on your plate. We just hope that some of what’s on your plate includes beans.
Meet and eat with Brooklyn Bean at the Park Slope Down To Earth Farmers Market, 5th Ave and 4th Street, every Sunday from 10am-4pm. Products are also available for pickup or delivery from Good Eggs.