True, the holidays are over. Lonely Christmas trees, branch tips tinged with brown lined the sidewalks this week. Gone are the sugar cookies, yule logs, and Christmas carols and in their place are green vegetables, gym memberships, and New Year’s resolutions.
Well, I for one am not quite ready to give up on Christmas just yet. As usually happens during the first week of January, I start humming Christmas songs again and bake one last batch of sugar cookies “for old time’s sake”. Tonight, though, Christmas came in another form – that of Christmas Lima Beans. Christmas Limas, also known as Chestnut Limas, are brightly colored, large, creamy beans with a slightly nutty flavor. We picked up a bag of local-to-where-we-were Christmas Limas* when we were in California in October and we finally cooked them up tonight.
This is a delightfully simple recipe that comes together in about an hour. As we often recommend, meat is the garnish in this dish, rather than the star. You can really use any creamy bean for this recipe. Favas, regular limas, cranberry beans, flageolet beans… the possibilities are endless. Even though I loved the Christmas limas in this recipe, a lighter colored bean would have probably produced a more aesthetically pleasing dish.
Christmas Limas with Bacon and Caramelized Onions inspired by The Kitchn
- 1 pound Christmas limas, soaked for at least 2 hours
- 4 slices bacon, diced
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- Salt to taste
- In a large pot, add the limas and enough water to cover them by at least an inch.
- Set the pot to simmer for approximately one hour, checking the water level and stirring every 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium low heat to render out the fat.
- Once the bacon is crispy, remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
- If you don’t have at least two tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan, add a bit more lard to make 2 Tbsp of melted fat.
- Add the onions and cook on medium, stirring regularly to caramelize.
- When the onions are golden brown, add the bacon back to the pan to reheat.
- Pour any leftover fat over the drained beans and top with the onion/bacon mixture.
- Salt to taste.
Notes: This was a delicious meal. I didn’t miss the meat as a main course at all. The bacon fat added a wonderful saltiness, but the dish did benefit from just a pinch of added salt. The Christmas limas are soft and creamy, and the bacon lends a crunchy texture and just a bit of smoke. This will be a staple for lunches and light dinners throughout the year.
*When I say local-to-where-we-were, I’m referring to our practice of purchasing items that are local to the region we’re visiting while on vacation. We take our cue from Plenty. If you’re in a region that produces something you don’t have locally, and you didn’t travel to that region specifically for one of those items, you’re allowed to buy it there and bring it home with you. So when we visit Mexico on vacation, we always bring home some vanilla extract and a bottle of tequila. When we’re in California, we buy olive oil and visit Rancho Gordo to stock up on some of the wonderful dried bean varieties we don’t have in Washington state. If you’re not as strict with your shopping as we are, you can find Rancho Gordo products at Picnic in Seattle, or just order online. You’ll still be supporting a small business that is doing wonderful things to maintain the popularity and viability of heirloom bean varieties.
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