It was the humble lima bean that cemented my love of legumes. Other beans all have their place in my cooking arsenal, but lima beans, with their creamy and comforting texture, are my absolute favourite.
When I discovered that they also go by the names Butter Beans and Gigante, a plethora of recipes became available to me! This one is my favourite. Enjoy as a hearty breakfast with a slice of buttery toast, a relaxed and cosy supper, or as a side dish for a bigger feast.
250g dried lima/ butter beans
100ml olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 x 400g tinned tomatoes OR 800g ripe tomatoes,roughly chopped
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
½ tsp lemon myrtle (optional)
Handful flat-leaf parsley or oregano, finely chopped
100g feta or goats cheese (optional)
The night before, pop your lima beans in a large cooking pot. Cover with cold tap water - the beans absorb a lot, so really fill that pot to the brim! Cover and leave overnight. 8-12 hours is ideal soaking time.
The next day, drain the water and replace with fresh tap water then set it on the stove. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to get a nice gentle simmer for 20-30 mins. They should be almost soft, ¾ cooked. Drain, but keep a cup of the cooking liquid.
Heat the oil in a large flameproof lidded casserole pot, and cook the onions, carrots and celery on low-medium heat until tender and the onions are soft and transparent, but not browned. Stir in the remaining ingredients - garlic, tomatoes, lemon, paprika, oregano, sugar, vegetable stock, lemon myrtle (if using) Add in half of the chopped herbs and feta (if using).
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan. Cook over a gentle heat for a further 5 mins, then pour over the reserved bean cooking liquid. Cover the dish and bake in the oven for 30-40 mins. Check occasionally that the beans are not drying out – add a little more water if needed.
Remove the lid and bake for 5 mins more.
Stir through the reserved chopped herbs, season to taste, then crumble over the remaining feta, along with a generous glug of olive oil just before serving.
Can be made 2 days ahead and reheated. It also freezes well for up to 6 months.