Baked Lima Beans and a Commute

This recipe is the result of a convergence of two obsessions: Rancho Gordo beans and Tessa Kiros, the lovely and talented writer and cookbook author. She’s of Finnish and Greek-Cypriot heritage and has wandered the world, detailing her experiences and memories through food. Recently, my dad gave me Falling Cloudberries for my birthday and I’ve been slowly leafing through it each night, wishing it’d never end. The photos are just dreamy, and the recipes are both evidence of Tessa’s heritage (classic finnish meatballs with lingonberry jam, stroganoff, and moussaka) and a postcard from her travels (spinach and truffle pies, champagne risotto, and lemon vanilla jam). It’s one of those books where it’s truly hard to decide how and where to begin. Lucky for me, the decision just showed up on my desk with a bag of colorful Christmas lima beans.

After moving to the city, I’ve started filling in at the restaurant where I used to work before teaching. I work in the catering office and get to talk to people about food all day. It rocks. The ironic thing: it’s in Marin–where I was living until just a few weeks ago. So I’m spending a little more time in my car than I’d like to, but I’m breaking out the travel mugs and relishing the excuse to listen to more NPR (did anyone hear that replay of Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me! with Neko Case yesterday? Love her). In addition to serving amazing food, the restaurant sells interesting olive oils, salts, sauces and chutneys–and Rancho Gordo beans!

If you’re not familiar with Rancho Gordo, they’re out of Napa and many farmers markets around here sell their heirloom beans, dried corn, and ancient grains. These guys are a variation on the traditional lima, but obviously bigger. They still have the “meat” of the lima, but with a subtle chestnut flavor. With a little bag in tow, I set off to explore the first of Tessa’s recipes: a substantial and satisfying vegetarian side dish that will absolutely become a stand-by in my very slowly growing repertoire. I did adapt the recipe just a bit, using panko crumbs instead of normal bread crumbs to add a bit more texture and crispness to the top, and played with the proportions of garlic and tomato. I like them saucy. I think you will, too.

 

Baked Lima Beans with Onions, Tomatoes, and Parsley

Baked Lima Beans with Onions, Tomatoes, and Parsley

  • Yield: 5-6 as a side dish
  • Prep time: 5 mins
  • Cook time: 1 hr 55 mins
  • Total time: 2 hrs

Please note, not included in the cooking times below, is the fact that you must soak the beans overnight, so do plan accordingly.

Slightly adapted from: Falling Cloudberries

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups dried lima beans, soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small red onion
1 celery stalk with leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (or 3/4 pound ripe, peeled, and chopped fresh tomatoes)
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. panko bread crumbs

Instructions

Drain the beans, put them in a saucepan with the bay leaf, cover generously with cold water, and bring to a boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the top, decrease the heat slightly, and cook for about 30 minutes or until they’re very tender. Add salt towards the end of cooking time.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Drain the beans, reserving about 3/4 cup of the cooking water, and put them in a large baking pan.

Heat about 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Gently saute the onions until they’re lightly golden and softened, stirring so that they don’t stick. Remove from the heat and fold in the celery, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, and remaining olive oil. Season with pepper and a little salt. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved bean water into the beans, and mix through well. Save the rest of the bean water in case the beans start drying out as they cook (otherwise, you’ll just throw it out). Cover the pot l and bake for about 45 minutes, them remove the lid, stir beans, adding a little extra water if they seem to be drying out. Sprinkle with panko bread crumbs and return to the oven, uncovered, for another 30 minutes.

The beans should be tender and still with a little sauce. Serve warm, with an extra drizzling of olive oil and some crusty bread.

Comments

  1. Lisa

    Wish i brought some Rancho Gordo to Cleveland! I love interesting beans and plan to eat more this year. I always loved the giant cannelini beans that I found at the stall that always had artichokes in the back at the Saturday farmer's market!

  2. megang

    Hi Lisa! Well lucky for you, I have your new address, so never know what'll show up on your snowy stoop. Safe travels!! Thinking of you guys.

  3. Britt

    Yum! I am all about beans lately, but I've yet to try my hand at limas. These look great, though! And you just can't go wrong with Rancho Gordo. ;)

  4. Bria

    Bless you for posting a link to Rancho Gordo - I keep seeing their beans in people's photographs and meaning to order some. My first memory of lima beans was not pleasant, and it's high time I realigned it. I think I was 4, and it was my first sleepover at someone else's house. My friend's mom explained that their family ate two dinners - one before dad got home, and one after. We sat down to first dinner...and it was a bowl of lima bean soup. I can vividly remember thinking "lady, who serves lima beans to 4-year-olds?!"

    Of course, now I think they look fantastic and can't wait to order some!

    1. megang

      Ha, Ha--that's hilarious, Bria. Wow, I bet that killed sleepovers for you for awhile, huh?!Yes, lima beans definitely get a bad rap. But these are really nice...kind of grown-up lima beans.

  5. Manggy

    Rancho Gordo beans are excellent - the owner's passion comes through in the product. Hm, lots of bean recipes on the blogs today (is spring in the air?). I love it when it's light and herby like this!

  6. Kelsey/TheNaptimeChef

    So fun! Did you know I am starting a "cooking with tessa" series next week? I know her a bit and her editor too, if you ever want to "cook-a-long" with me let me know. Next week I'm starting with a recipe from Apples for Jam. I probably leaf through that, Falling Cloudberries and Twelve at least once a week these days. :)

    1. megang

      You know Kelsey, I saw that over on your site and LOVE the idea. What fun! I'm going to be travelling to Boston so I won't have a lot of cooking down-time otherwise, I'd jump on board for a "cook-a-long." Hope you're not too, too snowed in!

  7. Maria@TheGourmetChallenge

    This recipe looks so good. I'm going on a bit of a health kick at the moment and this recipe looks both tasty and healthy. I especially love the color that the beans give to the dish...with all those lovely swirls on the beans!

  8. Bo

    This looks really delicious! Beans are always a favorite of mine. I have some french emergo beans that would be great in your recipe.

  9. Rosa

    What a wonderful dish! Tasty and so comforting!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  10. my spatula

    who knew lima beans could look so lovely? i need to revisit them. immediately.

  11. sk

    I just came across your blog and I love it! I have been marking down many recipes to try soon. And I was so happy to see THIS recipe, because I have made it before-- with those same beans! I am in FL but I love Rancho Gordo and look forward to placing orders with them. AND I love Tessa Kiros. This recipe is such a good one, and those giant christmas limas are so tender and meaty!

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