Good ‘Ol Butterbeans

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Baby lima beans or “butterbeans” named thus as a result of their starchy yet buttery texture, and are known for their delicate flavor that complements a wide variety of dishes.

Lima beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other legumes. In addition to lowering cholesterol, lima beans’ high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as rice, lima beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein.

Butterbeans are harvested while the seed is in the green stage. To prepare, wash, and shell.

To freeze, wash shelled butterbeans and blanch in boiling water to cover for 2 minutes; cool immediately in ice water, and drain well. Package in air-tight containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace, or in zip-top plastic freezer bags, removing as much air as possible.

Basic Butterbeans

2 pounds baby lima beans, fresh in the shell
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

Shell the beans and wash thoroughly. Put 2 cups water and the salt in a medium saucepan and add the beans. Cook the beans until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain the liquid and add the butter. Sprinkle lightly with the black pepper before serving. Serves 3.

Grilled Corn Salad with Lima Beans and Tomatoes, 

And Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce

For the Salad;

3/4 cup (about) olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 large shallot, finely chopped

6 medium ears fresh corn, husked

2 cups fresh or frozen baby lima beans

2 bunches watercress, thick stems trimmed, sprigs torn in half

2 cups halved teardrop tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese or crumbled soft fresh goat cheese

1 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives

For the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce;

1 7- to 8-ounce red bell pepper

2 plum tomatoes

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 garlic clove, peeled

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the Salad; Prepare grill (medium-high heat). Whisk 1/2 cup oil, vinegar, and shallot in small bowl. Set dressing aside. Brush corn with remaining 1/4 cup oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill until tender and beginning to char in spots, turning often, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly. Cut corn from cobs. Transfer to large bowl.

Cook lima beans in boiling salted water until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain. Mix lima beans into corn. Mix watercress and tomatoes into corn mixture. Add dressing and toss to coat. Season salad with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese; garnish with olives. Serve, passing roasted pepper sauce. Serves 8.


For the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce; Char bell pepper and tomatoes directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Transfer tomatoes to plate. Enclose pepper in paper bag 10 minutes. Peel, halve, and seed tomatoes; place in blender. Peel, seed, and chop pepper; add to blender. Add oil, vinegar, garlic, and cayenne; blend until smooth. Season sauce with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.) Yields 1 cup.

Fresh Vegetable Succotash

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

Coarse kosher salt

1 large garlic clove, minced

3 cups chopped red tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)

2 1/4 cups corn kernels cut from 4 ears of corn (preferably 2 ears of white corn and 2 ears of yellow corn)

2 cups fresh lima beans

3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sprinkle with coarse salt. Sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, corn, and lima beans. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until corn and lima beans are tender and tomatoes are soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before continuing. Stir in basil and serve. Serves 6.

Baby Lima Beans with Corn in Chive Cream

4 bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, cut into1/2-inch dice

1 (10-oz) package frozen baby lima beans

1 (10-oz) package frozen corn kernels

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Cook bacon in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, then cook onion and bell pepper in fat in skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add lima beans, corn, water, salt, and pepper, then simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to high and add cream, then boil, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by half, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in herbs and salt to taste. Serve sprinkled with bacon. Serves 6-8.

Fresh Lima Bean Dip

3 cups fresh baby lima beans

3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 garlic clove

Cook beans in boiling water 10 minutes or until very tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Place sesame seeds in a blender; process until finely ground. Add juice and remaining ingredients; process until blended. Add beans and 1/2 cup reserved liquid; process until almost smooth, scraping sides of blender occasionally.

Serves 8, each serving contains; Calories 95, Fat 3.4 g, Protein 4.7 g, Carbohydrate 13 g,

Fiber 3.6 g, Sodium 195 mg.

Mediterranean Lima Beans

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste

2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes

4 cups fresh baby lima beans

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in oregano, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, tomatoes and lima beans. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are fully cooked and the mixture is heated through, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 4, each 1 cup serving contains; Calories 284, Fat 8 g, Fiber 14 g, Carbohydrates 44 g, Protein 12 g.