Beautiful and Delicious Christmas Lima Beans

Christmas Lima Beans

Christmas lima beans, with speckled, swirled coats of maroon and cream, are one of the world’s most beautiful dried beans. When properly cooked, their texture is firm and their taste nutty.

Christmas limas are a perfect foil for strong, spicy flavors and are robust enough to serve on their own as a salad, spread, side dish, or main course. They go particularly well with wild mushrooms, bitter greens, and strong-flavored fish like salmon or mackerel.

The Ark of Taste is a list of endangered food plants and animals that the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity seeks to protect and defend. Christmas limas (Phaseolus lunatus), also known as chestnut limas, are now on the Ark of Taste list for the United States.

According to the Ark of Taste website, “gastronomic accounts date the Christmas Lima Bean to the 1840s when it was especially popular in the southwestern region of the US. … It is used in both its mature green state as a shelled Lima for eating fresh, freezing or canning as well as used dried, and cooked into stews and casseroles. The Christmas Lima is very successful in the high desert environments of the southwest. They are hardy, heat tolerant and very productive—a bean known for its yield and versatility.”

A couple days ago, I found myself with time to kill at Natural Pantry, an Anchorage store that started as a health food/vitamin store. Over the years, without my noticing it, Natural Pantry has added an extensive line of gourmet and specialty food products. Each aisle brought new surprises. I left with two full bags of hard-to-find-in-Anchorage ingredients, including a package of Christmas Lima Beans.

One final, but important, note: Dried Christmas lima beans are delicious. Other than genes, they have nothing in common with the nasty green frozen limas I remember from childhood.

Be sure to check out the recipes mentioned in this post:


10 Responses to Beautiful and Delicious Christmas Lima Beans

  1. I’ve never seen beans like that Laurie. I really have to take a closer look in some specialty stores to see what other types they carry.
    Your dish looks and sounds delicious! Kai xronia polla gia shmera!

  2. The bean salad looks so good! I just ordered some beans from Rancho Gordo and can’t wait until they get here!

  3. Mediterranean kiwi says:

    i love the look of those christmas lima beans, and what a delightful name.
    i also remember eating nasty green lima beans in new zealand, which put me off their name slightly
    in crete, neither of these types of beans are available despite the great love we have for beans of all types – i wonder how willing people would be to try new beans on the market if they became available…

  4. Bellini Valli says:

    I guess my beans are pretty boring when I usually only have cannelini, chickpea and kidney beans as staples. Diversify!!!!

  5. I have just blogged up a Black-Eyed Pea Salad recipe which I’ll send you as an email for MLLA. Looking forward to your intriguingly formatted roundup!

  6. Great picture. I want to try Pan fried salman. What is curly endive?

  7. MMMMM….what a beautiful combination of food!
    I love it all but espescially the lovely bean salad

  8. Susitna Cafe' says:

    Hello my Alaskan friend, I made the Christmas Lima Bean Salad–delish! Didn't have jalapenos on hand, so I substituted homegrown El Jefe peppers in moderation (they're very hot). BTW, I'm a food and travel blogger originally from Anchorage and live in Houston, TX for now. Still spend alot of time in Alaska since our family is there. Stop by and visit us at The Susitna Cafe' when you have a chance. I've placed a link to your blog on my web page so we can visit you often. Cheers!

  9. Glad you liked it, Ms. Susitna! As for your blog, love it!

  10. Whole Foods has Christmas Beans in their bulk bin section this time of year. I was able to buy a small quantity the first time I tried them. Then I went back and bought a lot more 🙂

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