The large, flat, kidney-shaped legume known as Lima beans is one of the principal ingredients in that Native American culinary classic, succotash. The other is corn. Succotash was also a popular dish during the Great Depression, and it is still revered (and served) at Thanksgiving Dinner by many New England families.
Lima beans are also referred to as butter beans and are native to the Andes, near present day Peru. These beans were first cultivated some 4,000 years ago, but didn’t become widespread until the days of the Spanish Viceroyalties of Latin America. The Viceroyalty of Peru began exporting these beans to the rest of the Americas and onto Europe. And on the boxes of beans were stamped the place of origin: Lima – Peru. You now know how these legumes got their name.
Many have an aversion to Butter beans. I admit I was one of them. But with the right recipes these beans can be quite tasty. Peeling the Butter beans is the fist answer. Many who have a distaste for lima beans are actually turned off by the outer skin of the seed. But peeling the beans yields a very different experience. However, peeling Lima beans can certainly be a dull task that exacerbates any ill attitude toward this legume. But if you treat peeling lima beans as a sort of zen meditation, you will be rewarded with beans of a buttery texture and sublime flavor. If you still find you are not a fan of Lima beans, even after peeling them, then try cooking them a bit longer. When Lima beans are overcooked, they get mushy, not unlike a potato. Indeed, they even take on a potato-like flavor.
Lima Bean Mash adapted from 365 Whole Foods
3 cups dried Butter (Lima) beans
4 strips bacon
1 small red onion, 1/2 finely chopped and the other 1/2 coarsely sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Meyer lemon, zested
2 tablespoon Avocado oil
1 tablespoon white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
- Wash beans thoroughly.
- Fill a large dutch oven with about 6 cups of water, along with the cleaned beans.
- Add 1/2 coarsely sliced onion, the olive oil, and liberal amounts of salt.
- Bring water to a boil, then simmer the beans tender (about 45 minutes).
- Let water cool completely.
- The beans should have swelled to about twice their size. The skins should now be quite tender. Simply grab each bean between your thumb and index finger and pinch lightly at one end. The skin should break open and the bean seed should slide out easily, leaving behind a translucent, balloon-like skin. Once all the beans are peeled, set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat.
- Fry the bacon to crisp.
- Remove bacon from pan and place on paper towels to drain.
- Crumble or tear bacon into bite sized pieces.
- Add 1/2 finely chopped red onion to hot skillet, and sauté in the residual bacon fat.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and now add the fried bacon and the skinned beans, and tossing until you reach desired mashed consistency.
- Spoon beans mash onto plates, and sprinkle with Gremolata (lemon zest, garlic, and parsley).
- Top with smoked paprika, black pepper, and additional salt (if needed) and serve.