Sunday, January 28, 2007

Heirloom Limas -- not your mama's lima beans

I love my mother. She is a sweet, little southern woman that hates to cook. She also doesn't particularly care about eating. I think if given the option, she would take a pill to get all of her nourishment and forego eating altogether. Well, it should be pretty clear by now that I (and my father, and D and M) are *live to eat* folks and not vice versa.

However, my mother does cook a few things well. Fried okra is one. Turnip greens is another. Also, grits and salmon patties. Lima beans, not so much. In my house, growing up, my mother would usually serve warmed green limas, straight from either the freezer or a can. The only saving grace for these beans were that they were always served with applesauce. I can see you grimacing from here. Don't knock it until you've tried it. Something about the warm, nutty limas with the cold, sweet applesauce is amazingly tasty. If she was making white limas, she would soak them and boil them with ham stock until they were mush. These beans were saved only by the savory little bites of ham that you could fish out of the white paste.

Oddly enough, I still liked limas after all of this. I was, and am, a strange child.

I haven't made lima beans myself since I moved out of my parents house and went college. I like them, and I'll eat them if someone puts them on my plate, but it has never occurred to me to make them myself.

Until I found this bag of Christmas Limas.

Back around the holidays, I was at my local Farmer's Market to hunt and gather ingredients for festive meals. In the midst of a pile of cauliflower and brussels sprouts, I spotted a bag of beautiful, dried, white and maroon striped lima beans. They were unlike any lima bean I had ever seen -- the lady at the stall explained to me that they were an heirloom variety known for being particularly meaty and nutty. Sold.

The bag has been rattling around my cabinet since then, waiting for me to experiment. I followed the little recipe in the bag (with a few adjustments) and fell in love. These limas are not your (or my) mama's lima beans.

Christmas Lima Bean Salad -- serves 10 small bowls


-- 1.5 lbs dried Christmas Limas, soaked over night in a full pot of water, drained, then cooked for 1.5 hours in a gallon of water, then drained again, and spread out on the counter to cool.
--1/2 very thinly sliced red onion
--10 leaves of fresh basil, chiffonaded
--3 tablespoons of your best olive oil
--2 tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar (Trader Joes has a delicious and cheap bottle)
--salt and pepper to taste (at least teaspoon of each)


1) Stir everything together, let rest a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Eat cold or room temperature.


This is a delicious, protein filled, vegan-friendly, lunch dish. I also discovered that it is great warmed up a little with a side of polenta.

Though the beans start out cream and maroon striped, they end up light blush and maroon striped. They are beautiful either way and will convert any lima hater you know. M despises all lima beans, but loved this salad. They don't even really taste like lima beans -- they taste meaty, sweet, nutty and rich. I picked up another bag today -- a new recipe is sure to follow soon...

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