Velvety Buttery Butter Bean
The Lima bean, Phaseolus lunatus, is commonly known as the lima bean or butter bean. These beans have a buttery, sweet, starchy taste and a smooth texture. The term butter bean is widely used for a large, flat and white variety of lima bean (P. lunatus var. macrocarpus).
Lima beans, named after its place of origin, Lima, Peru, are native to South America and are popular in Andean foods. They’re also used widely in regional southern U.S. cuisine. In the southern United States the Sieva type are traditionally called butter beans, also otherwise known as the Dixie or Henderson type. In that area, lima beans and butter beans are seen as two distinct types of beans. In the United Kingdom, “butter beans” refers to either dried beans, which can be purchased to re-hydrate or the canned variety, which is ready to use. These distinctions do not change the scientific terminology, and the two common terms used for the lima bean are often interchangeable regardless of regional or culinary preferences.
In culinary use, lima beans and butter beans are distinctly different, the former being small and green, the latter large and yellow. In areas where both are considered to be lima beans, the green variety may be labeled as “baby” limas.
Lima beans and butter beans add a protein-packing punch to soups, stews and even summer salads. Although slightly bland in taste, there is nothing unremarkable about the beans’ linguistic impact. Plump and creamy when fully cooked, they do in fact have a butter-like texture that is most appealing.
Recipe – Butter Bean Mashed Potatoes
4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into equal size chunks
2 15-ounce cans, drained, or cook from scratch – Butter Beans
½-1 cup vegetable broth
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup unsweetened plant milk
salt, to taste
Place potatoes in a pot; cover with water; add a little salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low; boil uncovered for 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork. Saute onions and garlic in a little water or oil until golden. In a small pan, heat butter beans through (an important step). Drain potatoes and return to pot. Add hot butter beans to potatoes. Add vegetable broth, onion and garlic, and mash with a potato masher. Add unsweetened plant milk; continue mashing until smooth. Season with salt. Serve with your favorite gravy.