Friday, March 11, 2011

Butter Bean Bildungsroman

Spring's here!
Slimy limas, wilted mint
Food blog posts on certain vegetables, like lima beans or kale, tend to follow a certain dramatic structure: First, the tragic childhood encounter with an over-boiled sprout or bean. Next, the adolescent estrangement and emotional repression. Then, the fraught adult re-encounter and re-emergence as a passionate veggie evangelist. It's the blogger bildungsroman. (Heck yeah I'm dropping four-syllable German lit theory terms. Bakhtin is my homeboy.)

I didn't plan to foresake that rich literary tradition when I chose to tackle lima beans on DCN. But alas, I set the beans to simmer on my stove and then promptly forgot about them. Two hours later I had committed the cardinal sin of cooking: Thou Shalt Not Overboil Ingredients People Already Hate. Instead of tender butter beans (the much more appealing Southern name for those little legumes), I had a mostly mushy mess on my hands.

Overboiled beans: not pretty
When confronted with a mistake, what do you do? Destroy the evidence. I sauteed the disintegrating beans in olive oil and garlic and shredded them in the blender with Greek yogurt, a handful of frozen peas for color, and some mint that was past its prime. This instant hummus replacement makes a lovely dish for spring entertaining, and is a great consolation when it turns out that your "coming of age" story leads to an Enron-style ending.

Minted Butter Bean Hummus 
Adapted from Grouprecipes
3 cups cooked lima beans
2 - 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice (or to taste)
2 tbs frozen peas, defrosted
1 bunch mint, chopped
2 to 3 Tbs Greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

  • Heat olive oil in a pan over medium. Add sliced garlic and stir until fragrant and a little soft, about 1 minute
  • Stir in lima beans and cook for about five minutes until tender
  • In a food processor or blender, puree the lima beans, oil and garlic from the pan, mint, peas, and yogurt. Add lemon juice and more yogurt or olive oil to taste. Season with salt and pepper. 
Notes for the Naked:
  • This is one of those "to taste" recipes. I adjusted the yogurt, oil, and seasonings a lot. Feel free to do the same, and even add a little water if it's too thick but you don't want more oil or yogurty-tartness.
  • I use a stick blender for all my pureeing needs--they're cheap and really handy for soups, smoothies, sauces, and the occasional lima bean mishap.
  • The peas are just here for color--you don't want their flavor to overwhelm that of the other ingredients.

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