Lunatus Beans is of Andean and Mesoamerican origen. The Moche Culture (1-800 AD) cultivated all of the lima beans and often depicted them in their art. During the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru, lima beans migration reached into Mexico and what is now the American Southwest, and eastward to Florida and other southern states that also have warm climates. North American tribes adapted lima bean varieties to their growing regions, cultivating small types usually grown today. Migration also occurred to the east into the West Indies, which also have warm climates. The Caribbean branch species contains types that tend to develop poisonous quantities of cyanide under certain conditions, but other branches have not shown this treacherous tendency. There is an almost endless diversity of seed sizes, shapes, and color combinations among the lima beans; although few colored varieties are now grown in the United States.
Lima beans are twining vines or herbaceous bushes, perennial in nature, but usually grown as annuals, even in the tropics. Some of the pole types can climb more than 12 ft (3.7 m) up a trellis or bean teepee. Some of the bush types stay under 2 ft (0.6 m) tall. The leaves have three leaflets, each 2-5 in (5-12.7 cm) long. The flowers are white to yellowish and quite small, usually less than 1 in (2.5 cm) in length. Depending on cultivar, the pods can be 2-6 in (5-15.24 cm) long and an inch or so wide. The lima bean is called “Lai mame” or “Aoi mame” in Japan. It is considered to have been introduced into Japan during the Edo period (16th to 18th century) (Hoshikawa 1981). This legume is not a popular crop. In Japan, dry seeds are cooked as “nimame” (boiled bean sweetened with sugar).
The Lima Beans, sometimes called ‘butter beans’ is rich in fiber and also reduces cholesterol and is very good for diabetic people as it prevents rise in blood sugar levels that rises rapidly after meals. It also provides fat free high quality protein. Peruvians cook them in rich stews with pork, but often take the time to peel each bean to make silky purees and a creamy dessert similar to dulce de leche called manjar blanco de pallar. Baby lima beans are a smaller, thin-skinned, milder flavored variety; they are not the same as the immature large lima beans. Baby lima beans are also less starchy than the larger “Fordhook” or “Butter” variety. Baby limas are slightly over 20% protein and are very nutritious. Fresh lima beans are difficult to find in the United States, but can occasionally be found at farmers markets. Do not eat raw lima beans. They contain a hazardous chemical that dissipates when you cook them. Here is a recipe that’s delicious and yet a healthy choice for everyone. The taste is superb and the feel of consuming a healthy food is wonderful.
4 cups twice peeled fresh fava beans, from about 4 lbs of whole fava pods
2 tbs sunflower oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups diced white onion, about 1 whole onion
2 roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
½ tbs ground cumin
½ tsp ground achiote powder
1 tsp chili powder
3 large gold potatoes, peeled and chopped in medium chunks, about 3cups
6 cups water or broth
½ cup milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups crumbled queso fresco, can substitute with feta cheese, but most supermarkets now have some type of queso fresco available
3 tbs finely chopped cilantro or parsley
Salt to taste
Serve with: hot sauce and avocado
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the chopped onion, cook for about 5 minutes. Add the crushed garlic, cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, cumin, hot pepper powder or chili powder, achiote powder and salt, mix well and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and the water or broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add 2 cups of the twice peeled fava beans, cook until the potatoes are soft, about 25 minutes. Use a potato masher to soften and crumble the potato chunks. Add the remaining 2 cups of fava beans and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk the milk and the eggs together, stir this mixture into the soup. Stir in the crumbled queso fresco. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro or parsley and serve warm with hot sauce and avocado.
2 cups rice
2 cups baby Lima beans
2 cups finely chopped fresh dill or 1 1/2cups dried dill. (I used the combination of 1 1/2cup fresh dill and 1/2 cup dried)
2-3 tablespoons oil
1/3 teaspoon turmeric
Dash of cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons of melted butter for the topping (optional)
In a medium bowl mix dill (fresh or dried), Lima beans, a dash of salt and cinnamon and turmeric. Mix well and set aside.
Wash rice with cool water a few times. Soak in 4 cups of water, add 2-3 tablespoons of salt and set aside for a 1-2 hours.
In a large non-stick pot that has a tight fitting lid, bring 4 cups of water to a rapid boil. Drain rice and pour into boiling water. Bring water to boil for 10 minutes. Test to see if the rice is ready. Rice should be firm in the center and soft on the outside. Drain and rinse with cool water. Wash the pot and return to heat, add a couple of tablespoons of oil. Place a layer of rice into the non-stick pot, place a layer of dill and Lima beans. Then another layer of rice, continue building it into a pyramid shape.
In order to release the steam make 2-3 holes in the rice with the bottom of the spatula. Cover and cook for 10 minutes on medium-high heat until rice is steaming, add a cup of water. Lower heat and steam the rice for another 40-50 minutes. Serve on a platter along with lamb shanks or chicken pieces or just by itself as a vegetarian dish. If you find the rice a bit on the dry side distribute the melted butter on top of the rice.