I hated lima beans as a kid. They would come out of my grandparents’ garden in buckets and the difficult task of shelling them was a shared responsibility. However, given the skewed memories of children (and knowing what I now know about how much mothers get done), I probably had to shell about four of them before I decided it was the most impossible thing ever and I needed to go play. Something tells me that my grandmother, my aunts, and my mom probably did a few more than I.
But I think I hated the lima bean eating even more than the shelling. This is meant to be of no disrespect to the hands that cooked them, but HOLY SHIT, did you have to cook them so long? I’m sure that some people like their lima beans really cooked, but I could never get over the mushy, paste-like texture.
When I started to get involved in our CSA and local farmer’s markets, I decided to give lima beans another try. I guess the nostalgia of my childhood got the best of me and I was pretty sure there was a reason the adults loved them so much. And low and behold, I realized that I do indeed love lima beans. And my kids do too. But we tend to season them heavily and err on the side of about five minutes of cooking — unless we have a lot of art projects to do.
Lima Beans with Garlic, Lemon Zest, and Herbs
4 cups of lima beans, shelled
1/2 red onion, chopped (can use shallots also)
2 T butter
1-2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Zest of two lemons, finely chopped
1 T lemon juice
Salt and Pepper
1. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a saute pan, and cook red onion until very soft and slightly caramelized. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to the boil and cook lima beans for 4-5 minutes until just tender. (Larger beans will obviously take longer than smaller ones.) Drain the beans and immediately plunge into an ice bath or rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Put beans out on paper towels and dry off a bit.
3. Reheat red onion over medium high heat and add the additional tablespoon of butter. Add beans and cook 1-3 minutes, just until hot. Remove pan from heat.
4. Stir in chopped garlic, lemon zest, mint and chives (several tablespoons of each), 1 T lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.