Do people still eat butter beans? Other people I mean because I still eat them! I’m not sure my children would even know what they are, even the foodie boy! I remember eating them at home, served in a white sauce, sometimes an onion sauce, I remember them at school and i think I may have been one of the few that ate them… great big, pale, beige, floury, sweet beans – they do have an annoying loose skin which put my friends off when we were sitting at the l long tables for school lunch. I buy tins of them now (yes, I know it’s cheaper to buy them uncooked, soak and cook them, but I always cook too many and then forget toe at them…)
The BBC food website tells me they are ‘ large, creamy-coloured beans that have a soft, floury texture when cooked…’ it goes on to say that they make ‘… a great vegetarian pâté and work well in mixed bean salads, or rich, wintry stews… mashed, or blitzed in soups and more ‘ and are ‘… a useful source of potassium...’
Their botanical name is phaseolus lunatus, and as well as being called butter beans they are also known as lima beans, sieva beans and Madagascar beans and originated in South America. They have lots of vitamins and minerals, as well as the potassium mentioned by the BBC – B1, B6, B9 and smaller amounts of E, K, B2, B3 and iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc… so they are jolly good for you! I’ve also just found out that butter beans and sweet corn make up the strange-sounding dish, succotash… the name might be weird, I guess I’m thinking of ‘sufferin succotash‘ but the recipes I’ve just looked up sound delicious!
So why don’t people like them as much as other beans, haricot, cannellini, kidney beans? Texture maybe? Pale colour? Don’t know what to do with them? One of my favourite ways to eat them is to make them into a dip – they become very creamy and quite sweet; I blend a can of drained and rinsed beans with tahini, olive oil, a little sweet chilli sauce and I put a little more salt with them than I would usually, and quite a bit of lemon juice. I guess I could use my madani to make a rougher version!