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5.23.2006

Lima beans, long overdue

I know, I know. I keep you waiting for a whole week, and then I arrive with nothing to show for myself but a bowl of lima beans and a mouthful of garlic breath. As my mother would say, “Hmph! She’s got a lot of nerve.” Well, yeah, I guess I do.


But if it makes you feel any better about our relationship, dear reader, know that I had planned to bring you cupcakes instead—and awfully good ones, at that. I was aiming to recreate in cake form the chocolate malted milkshakes of my childhood, the kind that I slurped through pink-and-white striped straws at Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Stores throughout the state of Oklahoma. Sadly, though, the cupcakes and I had a run-in when they decided to turn into something with the texture of a kitchen sponge, and when they tasted more like a cheap, too-sweet, boxed cake than a chewable incarnation of my beloved chocolate malt. It was a hard weekend, to say the least, and in the end, the best part was finding, in a fit of desperation, a package of baby lima beans in the back of the freezer.

Now, I know that the words “lima beans” are not, for most people, synonymous with “delicious.” A lima bean is nobody’s chocolate malt. But I have long loved its mild, green flavor and its soft, starchy creaminess, and I should have written about this dish a long time ago.


I stumbled upon this recipe almost three years ago now, in an old issue of Gourmet. It quickly became a standby, calling, as it does, for only a few basic ingredients: a pack of baby limas, a glug of olive oil, a handful of parsley, and an unflinching dose of garlic, plus a little water and salt to hold it all together. I could eat these lima beans like candy, by the handful. I go after them first with my fork, and then I follow with hunks of coarse, crusty bread to sop up the sweet, oil-dotted broth. It may be a modest dish in appearance and name, but under a sheen of grassy olive oil and a pungent cloud of garlic, these lima beans taste better, I think, than most cupcakes. Or mediocre chocolate malt ones, at least.



Greek-Style Lima Beans
Adapted from Gourmet, November 2003

Although this recipe was originally published in early months of winter, it tastes like spring to me. Conveniently, it is also a perfect receptacle for the Italian parsley left over from a batch of poached halibut. You could also try this method with fava beans rather than limas, I’ll bet, if you’re feeling especially bold and brazen. Whatever you do, be sure to serve this with plenty of good, crusty bread: you won’t want to lose a drop of the broth.

1 (10 oz.) package frozen baby lima beans
1 cup water
2 Tbs good-quality olive oil, plus more for serving, if you like
2 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 Tbs minced garlic
½ tsp salt

In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the lima beans, water, olive oil, parsley, garlic, and salt. Place the pan over medium heat, and cook, covered but stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowl, and serve, drizzled with more olive oil, if you like.

Yield: About 4 side servings

45 Comments:

Blogger KarenK said...

Mmm, that sounds so good (and looks so good), my mouth is watering. I have a garbanzo bean recipe that is similar - with the addition of finely sliced red onion rings and a squeeze of lemon juice, the only things that would make your lima beans even better, in my opinion. Mmmm.... adding frozen lima beans to my shopping list... thank you.

7:12 PM, May 23, 2006  
Anonymous Nicolette said...

mmm, looks heavenly! I love limas!

7:50 PM, May 23, 2006  
Anonymous Leah said...

Oh Molly! ANTM, lima beans, halibut... seriously, are you my long lost identical cousin or something? If you lived near us (Nicolette and me, that is), we'd surely have the best adventures. I mean, three lovely ladies who all love lima beans? It doesn't get any better!

PS - I finally set up my blog on my own url; I wasn't using blogger, and now I have a new home, one I plan on actually using!

10:27 PM, May 23, 2006  
Anonymous Cenk said...

Hey Molly,
The beans look perfect. Just a recommendation for any kind of beans cooked Mediterrenean style (with olive oil).. try adding a small amount of sugar (1/2 teaspoon); it will enhance the flavor dramatically..
Best
Cenk

2:02 AM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger Lisa said...

I mourn the loss of the malted chocolate experience. And patiently, I will wait...

6:05 AM, May 24, 2006  
Anonymous Tanna said...

Seems like there are a number of lima bean lovers out there. I'm sure right with you.
Halibut sounds good. How about a poached egg right in the middle of some of those lovelies. A little lemon zest. Oh, my who needs cupcakes.
Thanks

7:06 AM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger wheresmymind said...

Well..that's about as "Churched Up" as ya can make a lima bean look ;)

7:32 AM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger Natalie said...

I used to feed my lima beans to my dog when I was a kid. These look much better, but I still want a cupcake. =)

7:38 AM, May 24, 2006  
Anonymous Luisa said...

This made me laugh out loud - because this is now the third Gourmet recipe you've written about that I actually have clipped (and considering that most of the things I have flapping about my recipe binders are newspaper recipes and only a handful of magazine cut-outs - this is a lot indeed). I think we are tastebud soulmates, my dear.

8:19 AM, May 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's as if we are competing with Brandon for your time :( We luuuuuurve Brandon, but we want more Orangette!!!

9:04 AM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger Dawna said...

Molly, the way you describe your luscious vegetable dishes, surely if you decide to have children they will be completely unable to resist any manner of green or bean!

I've been swooning over fat white beans braised in garlicky duck fat, lately, so we're on a similar page (although I'm still in wintery-mode, yet)!

9:47 AM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger amylou said...

Molly, I am immediately sending this to my mom. I grew up hearing her say time and again that lima beans were "like dessert." I never bought it back then but maybe it's time to reconsider, seeing as two of my favorite ladies are in agreement.

And seeing as my grocery store's produce sucks lemons, I'm always game for a recipe that utilizes frozen veggies.

11:18 AM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger margrocks said...

you like lima beans! all along i thought i was the only weirdo who grew up finishing everyone else's servings in grade school. can't wait to try the recipe with the bag of frozen edamame in my freezer.

11:56 AM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger Dianka said...

I love Lima Beans too, great recipe! Sorry about the muffins =)

12:01 PM, May 24, 2006  
Anonymous Ivonne said...

Molly,

The lima beans are delicious and I love the recipe ... but I'm still wanting those cupcakes!

12:26 PM, May 24, 2006  
Anonymous Sparklein said...

Molly-at my house we love a similar lima bean dish...your recipe + a nice dose of good balsamic vinegar and fresh ground pepper...we eat them with pita...there is also a place in town that does a marvelous lima bean hummus!!!

1:21 PM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger s'kat said...

You know, Molly, I really just don't care for lima beans. Then again, I found myself saying the same exact thing about brussels sprouts a few short months ago, and guess what's sitting in my 'fridge this very moment? :)

Sigh... if DucCat ever gets wind of the person putting all these crazy vegetables in our diet... well, that will have to be our own little secret, then.

3:02 PM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger Suzanne said...

I've got some fresh favas I'll try cooked this way, maybe with a little apple mint from the garden...Lovely.

4:40 PM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger kickpleat said...

when i was a kid i loved lima beans (i know, weird!), but i haven't had them as an adult. i think now is the time to bring back the lima love. thank you.

6:14 PM, May 24, 2006  
Anonymous J. Bo said...

I was feeling pretty low yesterday, so I hauled my sorry carcass out to Chino's farm stand and bought WAY too many strawberries (about a dozen of which I snarfed on the way home, grit and all, I just DIDN'T CARE) and a little basket of the teensiest brussels sprouts I've ever seen outside of a doll house. I sliced these in half, steamed them slightly, then quickly sauteed them with olive oil and garlic.

I ate the whole batch straight from the pan, standing in the kitchen.

The moral to my story is the same as to yours: As comforting and healing as chocolate undeniably is, sometimes a perfectly cooked green veg accomplishes the same result.

P.S. But you WILL let us know when the Orangette Labs (tm) pefect those chocolate-malt cupcakes, won't you?

6:43 PM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger lobstersquad said...

Are lima beans anything at all like broad beans? I don´t know them, and I´m curious, but we have no beans of that name in Spain

1:15 AM, May 25, 2006  
Anonymous Dave said...

Hey Molly,
I'm psyched you can use frozen Limas for this. Frozen veggies are actually pretty good these days. I'm afraid we use them more often than we should.

I can't believe I want them now and it's only 8 am.

5:04 AM, May 25, 2006  
Blogger Pille said...

Sounds good to me, and looks very light and delicious as well. I would have to think of another name though when serving this to Estonians (we don't have these beans back home, and 'lima' wouldn't go down very well, meaning 'slime' basically;)

5:49 AM, May 25, 2006  
Blogger Jess said...

I have always loved lima beans. I even liked them pulled out of the freezer, microwaved, and slathered with margarine when I was little. Thank god I've graduated to butter. :)

6:05 PM, May 25, 2006  
Blogger Trish said...

I've become so excited about real lima beans lately. It's a radically different experience from the frozen, cardboard nuggets I was occasionally forced to eat as a child. These look excellent, and I have no shame with garlic breath.

6:46 PM, May 25, 2006  
Blogger Dee said...

Hi Molly, you can also try the same recipe for lentils (though Im not sure if there are actually frozen lentils). I always try cooking it with a bit of tomato sauce, but I think this recipe will work out fine. I drizzle as well with olive oil and eat with french bread.

1:35 AM, May 26, 2006  
Anonymous kudzuqnxymh said...

I loooove limas, from the little bitty Southern butterbeans (about the size of a pinkie fingernail) to those great big yellow dried ones.... My friend's mother got her to eat them by grating fresh carrots into the pot just before serving them up, a nice touch....Besides being an ingredient in succotash, they're also cooked in Brunswick stew, a spicy thick gumbo-like dish made with pork (or chicken or rabbit or squirrel -- whatever one has). ...Thanks for giving these beans some well-deserved recognition!

9:06 AM, May 26, 2006  
Blogger Carol said...

hi molly! i love your posts about the standby dishes, like the chickpea salad, which we eat nearly every week at chez arrow. so, are you going to give the cupcakes another go?

1:40 PM, May 26, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

KarenK, you're welcome! And thank you for that garbanzo bean idea. It sounds wonderful!

Nicolette, you have excellent taste, my friend, but I knew that already. P.S. These beans are quite similar in color to those lovely socks you sent me! Too funny.

Leah, if I lived nearby, oh MY. We'd have to warn the grocery store to stock up on extra limas. Oh, and I love the name of your new site, by the way.

Cenk, I would have never thought to add a bit of sugar to this sort of recipe! What an intriguing idea - and a good excuse to go buy another box of lima beans.

Lisa, I don't plan to keep you waiting long. Stage Two of the Chocolate Malt Cupcake Caper will begin tonight! Keep your fingers crossed, please.

Tanna, you're speaking my language! A poached egg and a bit of lemon zest would send this stuff straight to the heavens. I feel swoony just thinking about it...

Wheresmymind, I love that you wrote "churched up." Brilliant.

Natalie, how about both? In the usual algebra of the family dinner table, a few bites of lima beans earn you a few bites of cupcake...

Luisa, our tastebuds must indeed have been destined for friendship. I'm not the least bit surprised, ma cherie!

Now, now, Anonymous, don't be so quick to blame Brandon! He is - as you might expect, given the story of our meeting - a very vocal and demonstrative supporter of this blog: in fact, he provides a lot of the food (and stories) that I write about here! My inability to post more frequently these days is no one's fault but my own. Between my day job, a couple of other writing jobs and projects, and my pesky habits of bathing and sleeping, I'm doing my best to keep Orangette nourished and well fed.

Dawna, I hope you're right - please, please, please, let me have children who will eat vegetables! Oh, pleeeeeease.

Amy, I knew that I sensed something especially good in your mom, even in our very brief meeting: her love of lima beans! I hope they win you over too, my dear.

Margrocks, I would have never thought of edamame! Do tell: how is it?

Aww, thank you, Dianka. I'm hoping that where the cupcakes are concerned, the second time's a charm.

Ivonne, your request has been registered! Stay tuned...

Sparklein, I'll bet that Brandon would love your version - he's a fiend for all things involving good balsamic vinegar. Yum.

S'kat, yes, it'll be our secret! Shhhhhh. I'm more than happy to be your "crazy vegetable" pusher.

Suzanne, that sounds wonderful. I've never heard of apple mint, and I love the thought...

Kickpleat, amen to that. Bring back the lima love! Good taste, my dear northerly neighbor.

J. Bo, I love the thought of you eating those Brussels sprouts right out of the pan. Sometimes those are the best of meals, huh? Chocolate or greens, it doesn't matter: it's how you feel when you're eating it, I think.

Good question, lobstersquad, and a tricky one too. I think of broad beans as being the same thing as fava beans - is that what you mean? If so, yes, lima beans are similar, but a little less delicate and a tad more starchy. According to Wikipedia, lima beans originated in South or Central America, whereas fava beans had their start in parts of Africa and Asia. Does that help at all?

Dave, lima beans know no clock. It's useless to fight the hunger, 8 am or no...

Hmmm, Pille, you're right - "slime beans" don't sound so tasty. Hmph. How about something a little more vague, like "Greek-style green beans?" Maybe?

Jess, I could go for a bowl of lima beans with butter right this minute...

Trish, here's to many more occasions for garlic breath!

Good thinking, Dee. I love lentils. Might you post the recipe on your blog anytime soon? Please?

Absolutely, kudzuqnxymh - it's my pleasure. And for the record, that Brunswick stew sounds delicious.

Carol, the answer is an empathic "yes!" Of course! Where the flavor combination of chocolate and malt is concerned, no obstacles can stop me.

4:19 PM, May 26, 2006  
Anonymous leah said...

So last night, I get the following text message from Nicolette:

"OH THE BEANS! please kill me, they are so good!"

Tonight I sent the following text message:

"OH MY GOD I am so full but I can't stop."

followed by...

"Heaven"

I think that sums it up. Well, ok, I should also confess that apparently "4 side servings" can also mean "1.5 main servings if you mostly ignore the fish you poached a la Orangette and clutch a piece of baguette in your left fist like it is the Holy Grail, to be dipped in the broth of the gods." Or something.

In order to continue the lima love, I'm making succotash soon, and when I do I'll write about it chez moi. Meanwhile, onward with more Molly goodness on Memorial Day weekend (chocolate cookies tomorrow)! Thanks for all your fabulous ideas, lady.

10:16 PM, May 27, 2006  
Blogger bcinfrance said...

Bravo for making me want to cook and eat lima beans! I could also leave out the garlic and eat them with maple syrup for a true nostalgia moment (my mom would serve them like that...)

11:03 AM, May 28, 2006  
Blogger Miz Hatbox said...

Best. Lima beans. Ever. Even my husband said they were good.
And they're even good for lunch the next day, cold.

11:38 PM, May 28, 2006  
Blogger Dee said...

Hi Molly, the lentils recipe is posted in my blog, do check it out. My blog is fairly new, as you'll soon notice. I hope you get to tryb it someday and give me your feedback..

12:20 AM, May 29, 2006  
Anonymous Robert Nanders said...

Oh my, I wish you hadn't posted that. You had to do that, make me go craving something I can't find! Naughty! But thanks for the food porn, at least I can eat with my eyes! Spring here hasn't been much, and fresh veggies are still a bit off...

9:29 PM, May 30, 2006  
Blogger Kaya said...

The limas sound fabulous! I'm finally over my distaste of limas after overdosing on them as a teen with a family garden the size of Montana. I'll try the recipe. And Braum's rocks! I lived in OKC for a while and delightfully overindulged on shakes and scoops on more than one occasion.

10:29 AM, May 31, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Leah, you and Nicolette and your text messages and Holy Grails are too funny. Thank you!

bcinfrance, what's this about lima beans with maple syrup? I love lima beans, but I'm not sure how to feel about that! How is it?

Miz Hatbox, I'm so glad that you - and your husband - approve. Three cheers for lima beans and their leftovers!

Dee, your lentils - with, mmm, Spanish sausage - sound delicious. Many thanks for posting the recipe.

Robert Nanders, I'm so sorry to be a tease! But maybe you can find limas after all - have you tried the frozen section?

Kaya, I'm so jealous of you, what with that enormous family garden - even if it did lead you to overdose on limas! I hope this recipe will usher in a new era for you and the lowly bean. And as for Braum's, I know what you mean. Many shakes, many scoops...

3:59 PM, June 01, 2006  
Blogger Emmet said...

Damn.

The person I was supposed to marry cooked lima beans like that. Before that, I didn't really consider them edible. Just reading that, I can taste them, and all the other little pots of vegetables he would keep going on the stove.

Thank you.

8:02 AM, June 02, 2006  
Blogger Tea said...

Wow, I didn't know it was possible to make lima beans look so sexy! You've given the underrated lima a new life, Molly.

7:59 PM, June 05, 2006  
Blogger Marc said...

I love lima beans--I just wished they loved me. For some reason, they cause migraines in some people, and I think I may be one of them (I get them from cheese, ice cream, chocolate, coffee, and I believe, lima beans).

But they are so good that sometimes I need to take the chance and try them out. Thanks for the recipe! Maybe when I know I'm not doing anything for the next couple of days, I'll try it. ;-b

-MH

Boston's Hidden Restaurants

8:40 AM, June 19, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Emmet, you're most welcome. I hope that's a happy memory.

Tea, sometimes I think I should just come right out and dedicate Orangette to underdog vegetables! I seem to keep writing about them...

Marc, I am so sorry to hear of your migraines! No cheese, chocolate, or lima beans? I wonder what the common thread might be. How interesting - and, I imagine, frustrating. Harumph!

9:48 PM, June 20, 2006  
Anonymous Margie said...

I fortunately stumbled upon your site after looking for dutch baby pancakes on google.

I am not a fan of lima beans, but I just moved back to my childhood home of Oklahoma City. I will gladly lift a large chocolate malt from Braum's in your honor. Shall I also add a cherry limeade from Sonic?

9:54 PM, June 28, 2006  
Blogger Molly said...

Oh, Margie, yes! A large chocolate malt with extra malt, please, and a Sonic limeade, easy on the sugar. Oh man. I don't miss those hot Oklahoma summers, but I do miss the Oklahoma summer treats...

11:46 AM, June 29, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We love this recipe. First time we tried it we used fava beans, and in place of the parsley we used cilantro (I almost always try to follow a recipe perfectly the first time, but it seemed a shame not to use all the cilantro in the garden). YUM! I will be using this recipe every Spring from now on (with fava beans and cilantro, we love them so). Thank you!!

3:27 PM, April 12, 2008  
Anonymous Stephanie R. said...

dear orangette, i love that when i needed an amazing recipe for lima beans, i knew you could help me out. cheers!

11:29 AM, March 30, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know I am late to the party on this post, but it got me thinking...there are some things you should never apologize for, and I personally feel garlic breath is one of those things. This is why it is important to fall in love with someone who loves garlic as much as you.

10:26 AM, June 29, 2011  

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