It’s the new hummus! I have been trying to switch up my regular rotation of chickpeas and black beans. In February, we ate our fair share of lentils and great northerns, and then as I perused the dried beans shelf I spotted lima beans and thought “why not? It turns out Anna Thomas, author of “The New Vegetarian Epicure,” has a spectacularly simple preparation for these gems that left my taste buds oh so happy. When you host your next wine tasting/tea party, or just need a quick spread to keep on hand for your veggie sandwich, or are feeling the need for a little something because dinner at 5 p.m. was too early for bed time at 12 a.m. or actually because this tasty dip/spread is too delicious to pass up, please enjoy some lima bean purée. With a hint of rosemary and the perfect balance of fried and raw garlic to liven the taste buds I don’t think you will miss your prepackaged hummus for a moment. My only addition to Anna’s recipe was to cook my beans with a bay leaf. However, I imagine a whole host of other herbs could be subbed in here and should you have some chopped sun dried tomatoes they wouldn’t be unwelcome.
For 5 cups of spread
1 lb. dry lima beans
1 bay leaf
1/4 c. olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
pinch of red pepper flakes
1-2 Tbl. fresh lemon juice
fresh-ground black pepper to taste
garnishes: additional olive oil, chopped flat-leaf parsley
Soak the lima beans overnight in plenty of water. Drain them, rinse them, and put them in a large pot with water to cover by at least 2 inches and the bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the beans for at least an hour,and perhaps longer (mine took 2 hours), until they are perfectly tender.*
Add more water, if necessary, to keep the beans just covered. Toward the end of the cooking time, add about a teaspoon of salt, or more to taste.
In a small skillet, combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, about a third of the garlic, the chopped rosemary, and the red pepper flakes. Warm the oil and herbs on medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.
Drain the cooked lima beans, reserving the liquid. Combine them in a food processor or blender with 1/2 cup of their cooking liquid and the warm oil with herbs, and purée. Add the remaining minced garlic, the unheated olive oil, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to your taste, and process again until everything is thoroughly blended. Taste, and correct the seasoning with a touch more salt or lemon juice if you like. If the purée seems too thick, add a little more of the cooking liquid. It should be light, but hold a shape.
Allow the purée to cool. spread it in a pretty, shallow bowl, drizzle some fruity olive oil on top, and sprinkle with chopped parsley or a few red pepper flakes. Serve the purée with toasted or grilled bread.
*On cooking dried beans: I cook my beans on the stove top. With a good overnight soak, it usually takes mine about 2 hours. If you have a pressure cooker you could use it here to speed things up a bit, or buy canned beans and perhaps heat them a little extra to make sure they are very tender, or leave the beans in a slow cooker all day. Any way you choose to get 1 lb. of dried beans to a very tender state should be fine.
Love from CO,