Butter Beans

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Are You Ready for a “Mess of Butter Beans!”

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 their 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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. 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).
  2. Drain the liquid and stir in the butter. Sprinkle lightly with the pepper before serving.

Serves 8.

 

Baby Bok Choy with Bacon, Onions, and Butter Beans

(Amended from a FoodNetwork.com recipe, it is a yummy one so I wanted to share)

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1 pound baby bok choy (about 4 heads)
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound baby green lima beans, slightly cooked, still semi firm
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Add the bacon to a large skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp, about 6 minutes. While the bacon is cooking, cut the stems from the bok choy into 1-inch pieces and the leafy tops into 3-inch pieces.
  2. Add the sliced onion to the bacon and cook, stirring, until softened slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Toss in the beans and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the vegetables with a slotted spoon to a bowl, leaving the fat in the pan.
  3. Add the bok choy stems to the pan, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the bok choy leaves and cook, stirring until wilted, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Return the onion-bean mixture back to the pan and season with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4.

Summer Succotash

Ingredients

  • 4 cups fresh small okra
  • 3 large fresh tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup baby green lima beans
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

  1. Wash and trim okra, removing stem and ends. Slice the pods into ½ inch rounds. Rinse the lima beans. Peel and core the tomatoes, remove the seeds. Dice the tomatoes.
  2. Combine the tomatoes and sliced okra in a large, non-reactive saucepan, stockpot. Add the sliced okra, salt, and pepper. Add about ½ cup of water to the pot.
  3. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add the lima beans, simmer another 15 minutes.
  4. Add the corn kernels and continue to cook for 20 minutes longer.
  5. Add the butter and stir to blend.

Serves 6.

Freshness In a Bowl, Beans, and Tomatoes with Lemon and Basil

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups cut string beans, about 1 pound
  • 1 ½ cups chopped fresh tomato
  • 1-pound cooked baby lima beans
  • 4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Directions

Whisk together the first 9 ingredients. Steam the string beans, covered, for 8 minutes or until tender. Combine green beans, tomato, and baby lima beans in a large bowl. Pour basil-lemon mixture over bean mixture and toss well. Sprinkle with bacon.

Serves 6.

Butter Bean and Sausage Soup

Ingredients

  • ½ pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed (to cut calories use chicken sausage)
  • ½ pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (to cut calories use chicken sausage)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups of diced fresh tomatoes, or 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, UN-drained
  • 2 cups cooked butter beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups of cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shredded cheese for serving (I like Monterey Jack)

Directions

  1. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat cook the sausage until browned and cooked through, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. While the sausage cooks, in a large stockpot over medium heat add the onion, and sauté until opaque and the edges start to brown; about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant; 30-60 seconds.
  3. Add the chicken stock, diced tomatoes, butter beans, black beans, and carrots. Increase heat to high and bring to a low boil; add the sausage, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with shredded cheese (optional).

Taco Lima Bean Dip

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shelled fresh beans
  • ½ packet dry taco seasoning mix
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 pinch fresh ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the lima beans and return to a boil. Simmer beans for 8-10 minutes, or until desired tenderness.
  2. Drain beans well and let cool for 5 minutes. Add beans to a food processor with 2 tablespoons olive oil and cilantro.
  3. Process beans and cilantro for 30 seconds or so. Add lemon juice, salt, taco seasoning, pepper, cumin, and process until smooth, adding more olive oil if mixture seems too dry. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, lime juice, or pepper to taste.
  4. For best flavor refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving. Serve with chips or veggies for dipping or as a spread.