lima bean purée

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,



roasted winter veggie bowl

I cannot get enough of beets this winter. . . true story! I thought I didn’t like beets, silly me. I have seen them at potluck style meals straight from the can and they just never struck my fancy. Did I try them?  Probably not. But look, it is not the canned beets I am craving these days, but those lovely roots in the produce aisle, all golden or deep red. Did you know that they roast up into a delicious sweet treat that is only improved upon with an orange marinade? I am not kidding and unless you have already tried freshly roasted beets and know they really aren’t your thing, you ought to head to the grocery store at your earliest convenience and pick up a pound of smallish beets in any colors you find. They are ridiculously simple to prepare; preheat your oven to 400 F, trim all but one inch of the stem (if yours comes with the greens keep them, they can be sauteed in olive oil along with a bit of minced garlic, salt, and pepper to taste) and scrub well. Cut a piece of tinfoil large enough to contain your beets, if you have both gold and red beets separate the colors onto two separate sheets of tinfoil or you will end up with only red beets at the end of cooking, place beets on the foil, add a couple of unpeeled garlic cloves and wrap securely. Place foil packets in the oven and let them roast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, a kitchen knife should slide right through the skin of the beet. Remove the foil packets from the oven and let the beets cool. When beets are a temperature that you can easily handle, peel the skins off and slice thinly or cut into chunks or wedges.

We like these so much that we start sneaking bites right here; but, they only improve with the dressing.

5-10 cloves roasted garlic (the ones you roasted with your beets)
1/4 c. olive oil
2 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. fresh orange juice
1 Tbl. minced onion
salt and pepper to taste

Squeeze the garlic out of its peel and mash it with a fork. Whisk in the remaining ingredients. Put your beets in a container or two (one for each color) and pour the dressing over the beets. Let sit for about 15 minutes at room temperature before serving.*

To turn this into a one bowl meal I reserve part of the marinade and stir it into freshly cooked rice while it is still warm. To assemble the bowl: dish up the rice and top with roasted broccoli (a la SK), a generous helping of beets, the sauteed beet greens (if you had them or substitute arugula, kale, or spinach), and some goat cheese sprinkled on top.

*These can be refrigerated and served cold too if you like, they also keep well for a couple of days so I keep them to add to salads or grain and veggie bowls.

Love from CO,