Lima bean lovers, you’re not alone
Kale this, favas that. Anyone who has access to mass media can follow the rise in popularity of certain vegetables. This is not true for the unfortunates that have fallen from grace.
Lima beans are one of my favorite vegetables.
Every year I try to grow them, mostly unsuccessfully. Little did I know they are one of the most loathed vegetables in the United States.
Thanks, but no thanks: I got my first clue when I served them to a dinner guest. She smiled politely and said she would pass on them. When pressed, she related memories of a mushy lima bean mess forced upon her as a child.
To further lower their status, lima beans are associated with the Great Depression. Loaded with protein and iron, they were a cheap staple that appeared on the table all too frequently.
Lima beans are still available canned or frozen, but fresh limas are hard to find.
Find them fresh: Every summer I make a pilgrimage to the Loganville Barn to satisfy my cravings.
Proprietor Kelly Folkenroth assures me that I am not the only lima bean lover in York County. Loyal customers stop by frequently to check on availability.
Perhaps to make me feel better, she noted that lima beans are not an easy crop to grow.
The dish: One of the best known lima bean recipes is succotash.
The name of the dish comes from Narragansett, a Native American language.
The word might have fallen by the wayside but for Sylvester, the Looney Tunes cat who imprinted it in our lexicon with his famous exclamation “Sufferin’ succotash!”
Succotash is popular throughout the South and Northeast. There are many versions, but keeping true to its Native American origin, I like to incorporate the Three Sisters: squash, beans and corn.
I add a little red bell pepper for color. If you can’t find fresh limas, frozen are fine. Fresh corn, though, is a given.
2 cups lima beans
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small zucchini, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups fresh corn kernels from 4 ears
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup water
A few grindings of black pepper
Place lima beans in a medium saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until beans are just tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
While beans simmer, melt the butter in a large skillet over
medium heat. Add the onion and red bell pepper and cook until the onion is clear, about 8 minutes. Mix in the corn, zucchini, lima beans, salt, pepper, thyme and water. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes.
— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.