Most kids are picky eaters. I was no exception. I remember hating whole wheat bread, with the oats on the crust. I’d tell my mom I refused to eat the “eggshell bread”. My mom was pretty stern in the kitchen, and always made me finish eating my food, anyways.
While I may have my own food quirks, I think most kids would agree that certain foods are no fun. Lima beans, anyone? Brussels sprouts, perhaps?
Lima beans were definitely not something I liked as a kid, either. I would try to pick them out of the mixed frozen vegetables. To no avail. My mom was watching. I remember them being small, flat green beans with a firm texture. Yellow wax beans were more up my alley back then.
So when I saw Ricki smitten with fennel after her Hated Vegetable Challenge, I figured I would open my bean repertoire and try out lima beans again. As an adult (am I really an adult now? well at least my palate is!).
My source for dried beans is Bestwin, where I can find the standard fare of chickpeas (split, desi, black, etc), black beans, and assorted lentils (red and brown but not French du Puy or black beluga). They have black eyed peas, pinto beans, and, to my delight, lima beans as well.
I picked out a Moroccan lima bean tagine from Tagine by Ghillie Basan. It was not like anything I had encountered while in Morocco, as I skipped the Northern Mediterranean coast with its Spanish flare, filled with roasted cherry tomatoes, black olives, ginger, thyme, coriander and saffron; and a bit of zip from chili flakes. An exotic savoury blend wherein the flavours worked really well together. And the lima beans, well, they were phenomenal. They expanded to be these silky, creamy smooth pillows if ever beans could do that.
But wait! These are not the lima beans I remember from my childhood!
Reverse, reverse…. what did I buy at Bestwin?
Lima beans… butter beans… habas grande.
These must be giant lima beans! Further research tells me that lima beans (Phaseolus limensis) and butter beans (Phaseolus lunatus) are different, yet similar since they are related. The lima bean tends to be larger, though. And those small green ones I remember? They are more akin to baby/green lima beans.
Either way, this was a great experiment with lima beans. I have found a new beany friend.
Moroccan Tagine of Lima Beans, Cherry Tomatoes and Black Olives
1 cup dried lima beans, soaked overnight in plenty of water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, halved lengthwise, cut in half crosswise, and sliced with the grain
1/4 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely shredded or chopped
a pinch of saffron threads
1 pint cherry tomatoes (about 16-20 tomatoes if you’re counting!)
1 tsp agave nectar (or sugar)
2 tsp dried thyme
2-3 tbsp black olives, pitted (I used Nicoise)
freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon (1-2 tbsp)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1. Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Put them in a deep saucepan with plenty of water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 1 hour, or until the beans are tender but not mushy. Drain and refresh them under cold running water.
2. Heat the olive oil in a tagine or heavy-based casserole dish. Stir in the onions and chili flakes and saute for 3 minutes. Add in garlic and saute until the onions begin to soften. Add the coriander seeds, ginger and saffron. Cover and cook gently for 4-5 minutes. Toss in the tomatoes with the agave nectar and thyme, cover with the lid again and cook until the skin on the tomatoes begins to crinkle (5-10 minutes).
3. Toss in the beans and olives, pour over the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with the lid and cook gently for about 5 minutes, until the beans and olives are heated through.
4. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve with couscous or chunks of crusty bread and a dollop of thick, creamy yogurt, if liked.