Posted by: A Part of the Solution | October 25, 2010

Killer Lima Beans

Lots of people think they don’t like lima beans, and–in a sense–they’re right. They don’t like the bland, mushy, floury vegetable which shows up in mixed packages of frozen veggies. They don’t like the overcooked, over-salted canned lima beans. They don’t like flavorless, texture-negative lima beans. I can respect that.

Happily, there are lima beans nearly anyone can love. We grew some this year. To be specific, we put in over one hundred seeds–in two sixty-foot rows–and they grew. Then the drought hit. We’ve harvested lima beans twice this season. The first time, we brought about five pounds in from the field. This is the shelled equivalent of nearly two whole pounds. Not that many, when they’re still fresh. The second time (this week in fact), we harvested about fifteen pounds of lima beans. They’ll shell right down to not-very-many. This is too bad.

I’d wanted to send them out to our CSA members, but there really aren’t enough to do more than add a handful per membership to the ol’ soup pot. So I think I’ll be keeping them here and doing what I can with them.

The trick with lima beans is to treat them as though they were more expensive, rare and precious than we’re used to thinking of them as being. Once one begins to cosset and tend them as they cook, they become magically delicious. Really they do. And the following recipe is proof. I served it this weekend, with roasted chicken and sautéed carrots for lunch.

Our volunteer force sat down with quiet trepidation when I put lunch on the table. They’d helped shell the beans and knew they were coming. While nobody likes to say they ‘don’t like’ this or that, none of them was fond of lima beans. Until they tried this dish, and then they all had seconds.

Killer Lima Beans

2 TBSP drippings or unrefined peanut oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 large cherry bomb pepper, veined, seeded and chopped (or 1 habanero, or 2 red jalapeños)

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 cup vermouth (or red wine, or white wine, or even 2 TBSP red wine vinegar)

4 TBSP good quality tomato paste (I got mine from Anna Saint John, who works the farmers market in Kensington–she got the Gilberti paste tomatoes with which she made it from me)

1 1/4 lbs of shelled fresh lima beans (frozen would be OK, canned would not)

2 cups (or so) of veg stock or chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a heavy bottomed 2 1/2 – 3 quart pan with the oil over moderate flame. Add the onions and let them become translucent. Add the chopped pepper and the cumin and let these cook for a couple of minutes. Add the vermouth (or what have you). Let it bubble down to nearly nothing. Add the tomato paste and let it cook until loose, and a darker more fragrant product than you added. Add the beans and stir them around as they become hot. Now add enough stock to give the beans something to simmer in, probably 1 1/2 cups. Cover the pot, reduce the heat and let it cook for an hour. Check it occasionally, and add more stock if it looks too dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Yum!



  1. I’m used to serving food which causes trepidation before tasting and raves after.

  2. “texture-negative lima beans”

    Love it!!

    (Well, the phrase, not the described beans)

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