Last year we planted Christmas lima beans. They were prolific! Since we couldn’t resist their enthusiasm, pretty flowers and jewel-like output we planted another patch this season. We thought it was time to use the dried ones from last year so we wouldn’t get them mixed up…
But before I get into that, we’ve always been into trying new heirlooms in The Yarden and beans are no exception. The Hutterite soup beans we grew Year One were, as advertised, great for a unique creamy, delicious soup texture. But other than soup or chili, we didn’t have much experience using dried beans and we had a lot to experiment with – five or six new kinds a season. (As my mother might say – too much of a good thing.) We needed some in inspiration – this book has been a great guide ever since. (Leave it to the Italians to know how to cook everything a million different, delicious ways.)
Well, back to the Christmas limas… aside from being beautiful, these limas are incredibly flavorful. Some people say they taste like chestnuts… they definitely have a very rich, multi-dimensional flavor that I’ve never had before.
After soaking them overnight, we cooked them in chicken stock with a head of garlic and some sage. [I’m still confused as to if you should or should not salt beans when they’re cooking – conflicting info out there! – so we stayed away to be safe.]
After they were soft, they cooled and then we mashed them using the Kitchen Aid and the standard paddle attachment. We added salt, fresh pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice and some sage oil we had made…
OK, another digression… sage oil (or any herb oil for that matter) is easy to make and SO GOOD… chop up a big handful of your herb du jour and toss in olive oil, simmer for a few minutes and let it cool. We made about 1/2 cup of lovely green sage oil. Half of it we put in the bean puree… the remainder we used to drizzle on top of the crostini.
Once the puree was ready we put it on grilled crostini that we had rubbed with garlic. We added individual baby greens (the mustard greens were a very nice, spicy combo) as a base for a little color, drizzled with sage oil and topped with a teeny tiny sage leaf garnish.
We weren’t sure what reaction to expect from the dinner guests – it was just mashed beans after all with a fancy garnish – but we were pleasantly surprised how quickly they disappeared. Another fun thing is the slightly purple/brownish tint the puree had from the bean skins… it was unique and pretty.
For the sake of giving credit where it is due, my inspiration for this recipe didn’t come from the book I recommend in this post (but it is a great book anyway!)… It was inspired by this post:
(Thank you for the inspiration, WellFed!)