With the exception of Brussels sprouts, I cannot think of a more maligned vegetable than lima beans. Children the world over have scrunched up their noses at the sight of this pale legume sitting in a pile on their plates. As a wee one, I always had to be contrary. So, of course, lima beans were the only bean or legume I would readily eat. I preferred them plain or slathered in butter.
As I grew up, I stopped remembering that I liked lima beans. I just didn’t ever think to buy them when I was out grocery shopping. And, it’s not like you see them on the menu of many restaurants. (Think about it. When was the last time you ever thought… I wish I could get a side of lima beans. That would really top off this dish nicely.)
After we named our dog Lima Bean, they just became a joke vegetable. I’m serious. My dog’s name is really Lima Bean. She’s 65 pounds of border collie and terrier fun. If you ever think that life is dragging you down, I recommend naming your pet after a foodstuff. Running down an alley while wearing slippers and jammie pants calling, “Stop, Lima Bean! Stop!” after your dog has managed her great escape out the back gate, has got to make anyone feel a bit silly. Just ask Paul. I think he’s had to do it twice now.
So, leaving dog names aside, lima beans can really be a great side dish (especially in the winter when there’s not much going on in the fresh fruits and veggies category). They just need a bit of dressing up. This recipe comes from The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Vegetarian Cooking by Linda Fraser.
Lima Beans in Chili Sauce
- 1 lb lima or fava beans, thawed if frozen
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 12 oz tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (I’ll admit it, I used a can of tomatoes for simplicity)
- 1 or 2 drained canned jalapeño chiles, seeded and chopped (and here, I used one fresh jalapeño but I roasted it first, then seeded and chopped it)
- Chopped cilantro, to garnish
Cook the beans in a saucepan of boiling water for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Drain and keep hot, to one side, in the covered saucepan. (I used frozen lima beans for this recipe. I thought, 15-20 minutes of cooking after they’ve been thawed is going to result in some mushy, mushy beans. Instead, I thawed the beans and then added the thawed beans to the sauce at the end to heat them up. Not only did this allow for the beans to be a bit firmer, but they absorbed a bit more of the sauce flavor.)
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is soft but not brown. Add the tomatoes and cook until the mixture thickens.
Add the jalapeño and cook for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt. (Because I used canned tomatoes, I didn’t really add salt.)
Pour the mixture over the reserved beans and check that they are hot. If not, return everything to the frying pan and cook over low heat for just long enough to heat through. Place in a warmed serving dish, garnish with cilantro, and serve. (So, as I mentioned before, I just threw the thawed beans in here and simmered for a about 5 minutes.)
Despite my lack of garnishing with cilantro, these turned out pretty well. Not overly spicy, but with just enough kick to give the blandish lima beans some flavor. As my sister said when she ate our leftovers, “I liked them and I’m not the hugest fan of lima beans.” They also got a yummy vote from Mr. Moo. But, that kid will eat anything.