August 29, 2011

Fresh Lima Beans

Lima beans are not sexy.  No one gets excited about lima beans, right?  What child – or adult for that matter – doesn’t feel a little put-off by the thought of a can of lima beans? 
But have you ever had fresh lima beans?  Like right-off-the-farm fresh?  If you had, you might just think lima beans were pretty fantastic. 

I’d been wanting to try them fresh since I came across them at the market last summer.  I was determined not to miss them this time, so I snagged the first pint I saw. 

Here are a couple of simple, quick, healthy recipes that exemplify the philosophy that food doesn’t have to be complicated to be amazing. A few fresh, quality ingredients and a few minutes in the kitchen are all you need.  This small batch lasted the two of us through 2 ½ meals, but it can also be doubled or tripled for a larger group.  You can jump to the recipes by clicking the links below.

Cooking Fresh Lima Beans
Rustic Lima Beans with Sausage and Bread
Lima Beans and Pasta

Note: Raw lima beans must be cooked before they are eaten.

Cooking Fresh Lima Beans

Yield about 2 ½ cups.

10 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh lima beans (or more)
2 cups of water (per 10 ounces of beans)
¼ teaspoon salt (per 10 ounces of beans)

Rinse beans.  Combine beans and water in a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-high and continue boiling for 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse beans.

Add salt and ½ cup water and boil an additional 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow beans to cool in water (which allows them to absorb the salt).

rustic lima beans with sausage and bread

Rustic Lima Beans with Sausage and Bread

The white wine adds a nice brightness and elevates to another level this otherwise very basic dish.

Serves 2 as a main course.

1 ½ cups cooked lima beans
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, chopped
2 teaspoons butter
4 ounces fresh sausage (I used North Mountain Pasture’s Lincolnshire sausage, seasoned with sage, mace, and ginger. Yum.)
½ cup dry white wine
1 clove garlic, cut in half

8 slices baguette or other rustic bread
extra virgin olive oil, for brushing

Rub bread slices with one half of garlic clove and brush lightly with extra virgin olive oil.  Arrange (oiled side up) on broiler-safe baking dish and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.

Add sausage and cook, stirring and breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until very little pink remains.  Add butter, beans, ½ clove garlic and white wine.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until wine is cooked off.

Meanwhile, turn broiler on high and toast bread until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. (Watch the bread closely, as it can go from “almost there” to burnt in no time.)

Serve beans and sausage warm alongside toasted bread.

Lima Beans and Pasta
Lima Beans and Pasta

I particularly love this dish because it’s like a non-soup version of  pasta e fagioli, evoking similar flavors and nostalgia.

Serves 3.

1 cup cooked lima beans
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ medium yellow onion
1 ounce bacon, chopped fine
6 ounces fresh tagliatelle or dried fettuccine
½ cup passata (strained tomatoes)*
1 ounce parmesan, freshly grated

Fill a medium saucepan about ¾ full of water and set to boil.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add bacon and cook until onions are translucent (about 8 minutes). 

Stir in passata and season with pepper.  If your tomato puree did not already have salt added, season with salt to taste.

When water is boiling, cook pasta a minute or two short of al dente.  Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid and drain pasta.  Add pasta and cooking liquid to bean/sauce mixture and cook down for 1-2 minutes.  (The starches in the pasta water and the cooking help the sauce stick to the pasta. 

Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan.

*Passata (or strained tomatoes) is a staple in Italian kitchens.  It’s made from raw tomatoes “passed” through a sieve (hence its name) and packaged without any additives.  Strained tomatoes are becoming more and more common in American grocery stores.  Boinaturae and Pomi are both great brands.  You can also make your own from fresh tomatoes!  If you can’t get strained tomatoes, substitute tomato puree or plain tomato sauce. 



Caroline France said...

Do you remember that book that I bought at a book fair in 2nd grade about the girl who kept turning into different shapes and colors, and at the end you find out it's because she didn't eat lima beans, even though she really liked them, because no one else ate them?

Elizabeth said...

Oh, yeah! That's so funny. I never would have remembered it though, if you hadn't mentioned it. Good book. :) I bet she liked them because her family cooked fresh lima beans.

Click here for Glendale Moving Companies said...

This looks so delicious. My best friend in high school was Italian and her mom always made this. I would come over and her mom would always say "maybe Mar is hungry"! That photo you took makes me hungry!

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