Monday, January 18, 2010

Lima beans with Garlic

At work this afternoon, I started pondering what I wanted to prepare for dinner. In the fridge, I knew I had some leftover squash and shredded broccoli stalks, along with marinara sauce, so I decided to do vegetable pasta. So the veggies were sauteed up in a skillet, whole wheat pasta was cooked separately, the two were mixed and covered in marinara. But I knew I wanted something higher protein to go with my carbohydrates. Leftover cooked lima beans would do the trick, and I had that bulb of garlic from yesterday's expedition to the market, so I thought to roast the garlic in the oven and mash that all in with the lima beans, in the manner of garlic mashed potatoes.

However, when I did get home, I suddenly didn't feel like getting my hands all covered with sticky after squeezing all the cloves of roasted garlic out of their jackets. What to do, what to do.... I decided instead to make a bit of "browned" butter and garlic. (I put that in quotation marks because I didn't truly brown the butter, but one could.) A grind of sea salt, and a shake of oregano later, and I had produced serious rainy-day comfort food. Mental recipe success! The initial flavor of the beans is followed by the mellow golden tones of garlic and butter. I imagine that this recipe would work with any light-colored, well-cooked bean, like navy or great northern.

1/2 cup cooked lima beans has 105 calories, 6 g protein, 20 g carbs, 5 g fiber, less than 1 gram fat, and respectable amounts of iron, potassium, and magnesium.

To cook lima beans (and, in general, any sort of bean) from dried, soak the beans in plenty of water for 8 hours or overnight. Drain the soaking water, and add fresh water to cover beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 2-3 hours or until tender. Lima beans have a seed coat that may detach during soaking or cooking. This is entirely edible, but may be removed and discarded for aesthetic reasons, if you so choose. Yes, cooking dried beans requires prep time, but once cooked, you can refrigerate and freeze the beans for later use.

To make four 1/2-cup servings, melt two tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Add 4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped. (You can add more or less garlic according to your taste. It is cooked, so the flavor is not too strong.) Let cook gently until the garlic just begins to brown. Add two cups of cooked lima beans, and mix well, mashing with a spoon. Throw in some dried or fresh oregano and salt to taste. Once heated through, serve it forth.

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