Monday, January 26, 2015

Meatless Monday: Italian Lima Beans

If you live along the coast of southern New England, on this Meatless Monday you are most likely planning for the approaching blizzard (or at least thinking about planning). If you still need to run to the supermarket for your storm supplies, why not add a bag of dried beans to the shopping list? By now the bread aisle is probably wiped out, but I bet there are still plenty of beans. 

Beans are a very good source of protein, dietary fiber, and iron. Canned beans are relatively inexpensive canned, but are really cheap if you prepare them yourself. All you need is time for soaking and cooking. Since it looks like most of us won’t be going anywhere tonight or tomorrow, we have plenty of time available. So why not get some started? 

The directions for cooking dried beans can be found on any bag and are pretty much the same, although some beans take longer to cook than others. Here are the instructions from the Bob’s Red Mill Large Limas I recently purchased: Soak beans overnight in a large pot. Drain and rinse beans. Put beans back in pot. Add 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of Large Lima Beans. Liquid should be 1-2” above top of beans. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour.

[Note: Cooked beans freeze well and can be stored in a freezer for 6 months. They make a great addition to soups and salads and can be turned into a quick dip from ingredients you probably have in your pantry. So make lots!]

Once your beans are cooked you can turn them into a hearty, satisfying dish to warm you up when your shoveling is done. Here’s one idea — the Italian Lima Bean dish I cooked and served last week. 

I had cooked a bag of limas, intending to make succotash. But when I searched through my cookbooks for lima bean recipes I got inspired by a simple recipe in James Beard’s American Cookery for lima beans served with tomato sauce and grated cheese.

Lima Beans with Tomato Sauce

  • 3 cups cooked lima beans
  • 1 large can (approximately 28 oz.) crushed tomatoes [I like Muir Glen fire roasted.]
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 finely chopped medium onion
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil or 2 tablespoons fresh
  • 2 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Chopped parsley
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

  • Simmer the tomatoes with the garlic, onion, and basil.
  • Add the butter with the tomato paste.
  • Correct the seasoning.
  • Continue simmering until the sauce becomes thick.
  • Drain the beans and place in a deep platter or serving dish.
  • Spoon the tomato sauce over them and sprinkle lavishly with chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • I mixed the cooked beans with the tomato sauce.
  • I set aside 1 qt. of the beans, let them cool, and froze them w/o cheese or parsley.
  • I wanted to serve my beans hot so I greased a casserole, poured the remaining saucy beans into it, and baked in a 375° oven until they were hot and bubbly. 
  • I topped the beans with the parsley and cheese just before serving.

They were delicious with a green salad and some hot Italian bread.

Happy Meatless Monday. Shovel carefully and, when you are done, watch out for any icy patches!

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

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