Lima Beans. Show Some Respect, Please.

The Lima is a luscious bean. It really is.

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By David Hammond

People seem to hate on Lima beans more than they do any other members of the vegetable kingdom.

If the very mention of Limas inspires upturned noses and outbursts like "Omigod, I hate them," there's usually one understandable reason for such unbridled, passionate aversion: those haters of Limas, as kids, probably had them out of a can, and the trauma of that early, unfortunate culinary experience has forever warped their perceptions of the innocent legume.

There's a lot to like about Limas, and all we are saying is that maybe, just maybe, you should give Limas another chance.

The Lima is a luscious bean, very low in fat though with rich, creamy insides (they're sometimes called "butter beans").  Limas have a slightly tight though tender and almost crunchy outer skin that bursts upon biting to release a lush rush of mild green flavor. People frequently apply butter to all beans, but for Lima beans, added dairy richness seems especially unnecessary. There's no other bean so full of flavor.

Of course, like most of their bean brethren, Limas are high in fiber, which everyone says we all need more of in our diets.

And here's some breaking good news: canned Limas are no longer all that awful. Now, even Del Monte puts out a decent rendition of the bean. The label announces that the beans are non-GMO and seasoned with sea salt, so clearly, they're trying harder to appeal to a more food-conscious demographic, and it shows. Are these canned Limas as good as fresh, frozen or dried? No, but they do seem to be better quality beans and they have not been over-cooked, which used to be a big problem with most canned vegetables.

It's still more desirable to get your beans fresh, frozen or dried, though be forewarned that fresh can be tricky, as Limas tend to go starchy very quickly. Most of the fresh ones we've bought when they appear at the grocery store have tended to be way less sweet than they should be. If you grow them in your backyard, they'll undoubtedly be best, though shucking beans can be time- and labor-intensive.

Or leave it to the professionals. Papaspiro's (728 Lake) serves giant Limas, one of my favorite dishes in all Oak Park. Served in a light tomato sauce, these big boy beans (shipped dry from Greece) are full of flavor, and the texture is just right. Over the years, I've sometimes gone to Papaspiro's and had only those beans for dinner, which could seem a stark repast were it not that the beans are so spectacularly tasty.

So, give Limas another chance having a big bowl of them on (I kid you not: this holiday exists) National Lima Bean Respect Day, April 20th.






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Reader Comments

3 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Brian Slowiak  

Posted: April 20th, 2018 10:35 AM

@ Brad Knaub: Are you going to revisit lima beans or buggers?

David Hammond  

Posted: April 20th, 2018 9:45 AM

Comrade Knaub, the canned ones (though better than in ye old days) remain the least desirable. For all practical purposes, frozen is the way to go.

Brad Knaub  

Posted: April 19th, 2018 12:57 PM

I think I'll have to revisit these little buggers. I've ignored them too long.

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