Fresh Baby Limas Cooked Two Ways

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Sitting in front of the menu not in the mood for a pear endive salad, passing over pumpkin gnocchi appetizer to make room for my main course pasta dish, but, still wanting some kind of starter, I do what I’ve learned to do at one of my favorite restaurants…..ask the waiter.

And there it was, peas and fresh fava beans in olive oil with a touch of feta,something I may have passed over, had I not asked. . And, he was right. Two shades of the most natural bright green colors sitting in the most aromatic lemony lemon olive oil, with so much lemon, I nearly puckered, with just the right amount of feta to add a little creamy saltiness.

I don’t know how many people would get excited over peas and lima beans, but the simplicity of this dish striking just the right flavors did what great food does… created a food memory. It’s been nearly 8 months since that salad, but when my mother dropped off a bag of FRESH lima beans, I knew right away where they were headed. And, if the food angels weren’t storming my kitchen already, I had fresh spring peas to greet them.

Baby lima beans are also known as butter beans, because they are a light, smooth textured, and yes, buttery. There is some confusion here, because I call them fava beans and the produce stand insists they are called “lima beans.”

After rinsing off and boiling in a pot for about 10-15 minutes, I stood there, thinking “some of you are going to get the royal treatment of olive oil, herbs and lemon, and some of you are going savory with bacon and onions and the beautiful yellow squash gathered at the Franklin Farmer’s Market.

When making the salad, I made a decision to slip each bean out of that outer shell of skin so they would be smooth and bright. Once I got the hang of it, I could move pretty quickly, but it would have been a daunting task (and unnecessary) to do this with all the beans.

You can see the differences in the two bean but how did they compare in taste? I had a hard time deciding which bean dish to eat, so I had to have both at the same time. Each dish satisfies a different craving. The next day there was a little bit of savory beans with bacon left over and they tasted even better. And, just as the lima and pea salad, the savory dish is now a food memory and I’m already craving it again.

Fresh baby limas (or fava beans), fresh spring olive oil, lemon zest, feta, mint make a perfect spring salad

Recipe: Fresh Lima Bean and Spring Peas Salad

1 1/5 cups cooked baby lima,with outer skin removed after cooking (can substitute with frozen)
1 1/5 cups cooked fresh spring peas (can use frozen)
Juice and zest of one lemon,
1/4 cup crumbled authentic greek feta
extra virgin olive oil
4-6 leaves mint, finely chopped (or basil)
sea salt
cracked pepper

You can adjust the ratio of lima beans to peas as you like. Toss beans/peas with olive oil.
Squeeze lemon, toss.
Season with salt and pepper
Garnish with crumbled feta, mint

Serve at room temperature.

Recipe: Fresh Limas, Yellow Squash Stir Fry

2 cups cooked fresh baby limas (or frozen) (I didn’t remove skins for this, but you can)
5 pieces bacon, cut into 1” thin strips, using 1 slice for the water to boil beans in
2 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced
2 yellow squash, sliced
1 large onion, diced
extra virgin olive oil
pinch or two, crushed chile pepper
sea salt, black pepper

boil slice of bacon cut into small pieces in water until fat is rendered
add lima beans, cook until tender
drain limas. remove bacon
saute remaining bacon and when nearly cooked, add onion and saute until soft
add garlic slices, saute until just done, not browned
add squash, saute until soft
add lima beans and stir fry until slightly browned
add chile pepper

You can eat this immediately, but it gains flavor allowing to come to room temperature and reheating right before serving. The next day’s reheat was even better.

Do not eat lima beans raw, as they contain cyanogens, from which the poison cyanide is made. The U.S. and many other countries restrict growing limas to those with low levels. Rinse well and cook before eating.

Post Dates: I’ve gone back to the market to ask about these beans. I think they are fava beans, and the market says they are lima beans. I’m still not sure if folks use them interchangeably.
I am determined to find out more about these beans and will be making them again real soon before the season is over (which is soon).

This is a side dish, but can become a main course if you add in pasta or rice.


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