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Jul 7, 2009 03:24 AM

planning a menu to celebrate lima beans


I've managed to buy a hard-to-find local variety of lima bean (also known as butter beans), called the hereboontjie. It's a broad, flat, dried white bean, and it's particularly creamy and thin-skinned. At the request of a friend, I want to plan a themed menu celebrating this bean. It's winter here in South Africa at the moment, so a simple, seasonal menu which uses it in different ways i what I'm after. This a casual meal, not a dinner party.

Here's what I'm thinking so far:

roast garlic and bean dip, baked with breadcrumbs, served with toasted pita wedges and maybe some baby veg for dipping

Hereboontjie and waterblommetjie soup (waterblommetjies are an indigenous marsh flower available at the moment, used in soups and stews) - this would be brothy, with bean pot liquor as the base, rather than a puree soup

main course (?) with sousboontjies (traditional side dish, cooked beans in a light sweet-sour sauce, served at room temperature)

dessert (?)

Not sure if I could incorporate the beans in another way into the main course, or if that would even be desirable (bean overload? less is more?). And I'm not sure what to do as the main course. I thought a baked fish dish, with a creamy mashed potato crust, but since sousboontjies are used to cut rich dishes, perhaps a roast pork belly or something like braised lamb shanks would be more appropriate?

Dessert's still undecided. Apple and prune clafoutis with greek yoghurt? Ice cream and chocolate sauce? Creme caramel? Prob should be something light...

All suggestions welcomed!

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  1. hi gooseberry, what about a cassoulet-type dish with the dried butterbeans instead of the cannellini, and made with charcuterie, like smoked sausages. buttered cabbage with a little juniper berry would be good as a side.

    (but open the windows wide into the winter night, as this menu will tend to cause a little "wind"iness. ;-)).

    if you want a main without beans, i think the lamb shanks would be superb!

    i prepare dried limas with a smoked ham bone, along with some small-diced carrot, onion, celery, garlic, thyme..... it can be loose like a soup, or thicker, like a stew. being an american southerner, i serve this homey dish with buttered cornbread.

    what's a marshflower like?

    dessert, i agree, should be lighter. maybe a simple apple tart. i like the clafoutis idea, but the tart feels lighter....

    come summer, gooseberry, try these ideas: (good ideas on the thread...).

    3 Replies
    1. re: alkapal

      Hi Alkapal. I was thinking of how best to describe a waterblommetjie, and then remembered I had a blog posting on them... back when I used to blog. Am I the only one with an embarrasingly abandoned blog?
      They're really pretty. Taste a bit like green beans...

      1. re: Gooseberry

        neat! so it's a flower bud that is the base of this pretty soup of yours?

        1. re: alkapal

          yup. Don't know why we don't eat more edible flowers. As you say, it's pretty cool.

    2. for a butter beans here i do fish laid on a suuccatash of butterbeans....beautiful

      4 Replies
      1. re: LaLa

        MMM... That is what I was thinking!

        I would take Alkapal's idea of cornbread and attach it to your bean and flower soup. Maybe sneak in a bit of pork cracklings or bacon into the bread.

        You could do a nice rustic tart for dessert. I like simple fruit and honey or sugar topped with nibs of butter all wrapped lazily in a sturdy cream cheese or a dough with a bit of cornmeal in it. Just roll out the dough on a piece of parchment and flunk it on a sheet pan. Dump ingredients on top and then pull the sides of the dough up and around it leaving a mediumish hole in the center. Bake. Eat.


        1. re: Sal Vanilla

          I know exactly what type of tart (crostata?) you mean. I did a quince version a month ago - very yummy.

          Bacon in cornbread... sounds good.

        2. re: LaLa

          Succotash was my first thought as well !

          1. re: tommyskitchen

            but corn for succotash isn't in season for gooseberry (winter, there)....and these are dried butterbeans -- not fresh.

        3. My mother ( a German who emigrated to New York) always made a dried lima/butter bean soup with a lamb shank, onion, celery, and carrot. I once asked the derivation, since it didn't seem German. She worked in a beauty shop and said that many years earlier, when she'd been sick, a customer brought her this soup. She ate it, liked it, and felt better. (I recalled this decades later when Garrison Keillor told a story about being new to NYC, and ill, when a neighbor who didn't know him but realized he had flu, brought him chicken soup with remarkable recuperative powers. When later he asked for the recipe, she said, "Oh, you can't make it - someone has to make it FOR you"). My mom did not know the ethnic origin of the soup, and I have no idea how close her interpretation was to the original. My take on it is to sear the shank first, then deglaze the pot by stirring the chopped onion into the fond before adding garlic, water, celery, and unsoaked dry limas. If you don't do the browning, the color of the soup will be an unappealingly muddy brown. If it seems too light, add a little Gravy Master/Kitchen Bouquet. Simmer until the meat is nearly falling off the bone before adding the chopped carrots and cooking until they are tender. Some of the beans split, so they thicken the soup as it cools. Remove meat from bone, tear into pieces and return to the soup. It's better the next day. The gelatin in the shank, combined with the creamy beans, makes for a great mouth-feel.

          1. Goose ... long time. Be sure to make some butter bean falafel - just like you make chickpea/garbanzo falafel.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              hey Sam. butterbean falafel is an intriguing idea (I rarely make chickpea variety, doing green pea, carrot and last night, beetroot versions instead). But a butterbean is much softer when cooked than a chickpea. What sort of texture will it have?

              1. re: Gooseberry

                You have to cook the beans until just soft enough, mash or process, and add dried bread crumbs and egg to bind - plus whatever else you want. They'll thicken up nicely if you make relatively thin, small round patties.