It’s Time for a Mess of Butter Beans!

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Everyone is always waiting for the first “mess of butter beans”, if you are from the South, that just means a big pot of the yummy green baby lima beans!!! Often called “butter beans” because of their starchy yet buttery texture, lima beans have a delicate flavor that complements a wide variety of dishes. Fresh lima beans are worth the search in the summer and fall when they are in season. Dried and canned lima beans are available throughout the year.

Lima beans are a delicious and versatile legume that have a number of important health benefits, including its ability to improve digestion, boost heart health, positively impact energy levels, aids circulation, stimulates growth and repair, defend against chronic illness, and protect against diabetes.

Here are some traditional and not so traditional ways to use your fresh butter beans!!

Southern Butter Beans

4 pounds baby lima beans, fresh in the shell

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons salted butter

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper

Optional:  you may add some country ham for seasoning

Shell the beans (if fresh) and wash thoroughly. Put 4 cups water and the salt in a medium saucepan and add the beans. Cook the beans until tender, about 30 minutes (if using frozen, cook about 10 minutes).

Drain the liquid and stir in the butter. Sprinkle lightly with the pepper before serving. Serves 8.


Lima Bean Hummus with Herbs

4 pounds fresh baby lima beans

1 large onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, smashed with side of a large knife

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups water

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Simmer beans, onion, garlic, salt, and water in a 3-quart saucepan, covered, until beans are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in cilantro and parsley and let stand, uncovered, 5 minutes.

Drain bean mixture in a sieve and transfer to a food processor. Add cumin, cayenne, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 tablespoons oil, dill, and mint and purée until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and add lemon juice to taste.

Mound dip in a serving bowl and drizzle with remaining tablespoon oil. Serve with pita wedges or sesame won ton crisps. Yields 2 cups.


Summer Succotash Salad

Kosher salt

2 cups green beans

1 10-ounce package frozen lima beans, thawed

3 cups corn kernels (from about 4 ears)

1 small avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into chunks

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup minced red onion

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

10 basil leaves, thinly sliced

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

Freshly ground pepper

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and lima beans and cook until the green beans are bright green and the lima beans have softened slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water to cool. Cut the green beans into 1-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the green beans, lima beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and basil. In a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, honey, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat. Serves 6.

Creamy Butter Bean and Shrimp Casserole

1 pound peeled and deveined large fresh shrimp

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1/2 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of onion soup

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 cup Sauvignon Blanc

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup diced bell pepper

1/4 cup diced celery

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

2 cups of cooked baby lima beans

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Garnish: chopped fresh thyme

In a large bowl, combine shrimp and Cajun seasoning; gently toss to coat. In a medium bowl, whisk cream cheese until smooth. Add soup, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and wine, stirring until smooth. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Transfer 2 tablespoons melted butter to a small bowl and set aside. To Dutch oven, add bell pepper and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook 1 minute more. Stir in butter beans (baby limas), lemon juice, and salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp and cook until pink and firm, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in cream cheese mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon mixture into prepared pan.

To reserved 2 tablespoons butter, add bread crumbs and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, stirring to combine. Sprinkle over casserole.

Bake until browned and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Garnish with thyme, if desired. Yields 8 servings.

Homemade Butter Bean Burger

Butter Bean Patty

2 cups of cooked butter beans, cooled for at least an hour

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon red pepper powder (use less if you don’t like spicy)

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (juice from 1/2 lemon)

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 egg

1 tablespoon olive oil


4 burger buns

1 tomato, sliced

avocado, mashed

leafy greens

Drain out any excess water from the butter beans.

In a large bowl, mash the lima beans using a potato masher.

Add the quinoa, red pepper powder, paprika and lemon juice. Stir to combine.

Add in the bread crumbs and egg and mix well.

Using your hands, roll the mixture into tight balls and form patties.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Cook each patty for 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned.

Serve the patties on a salad or in a burger.