Christmas Lima Bean Salad
Nutty and beautiful Christmas Lima Beans, dressed with jalapenos, capers, and mint, make a beautiful and delicious salad that pairs well with seafood of all kinds. The amount of jalapeño in the dressing, and whether you include jalapeño seeds (which add heat), depends on how spicy you like your food. I last made this with 2 jalapeños, including seeds, and it was pleasantly spicy. My husband would’ve preferred it with 3 whole jalapeños. If you don’t like spicy food, remove seeds before adding jalapeños. Keep in mind that jalapeños aren’t uniformly hot. If your jalapeños are too mild, add a little sambal oelek or crushed red pepper flakes to make dressing spicier. I prefer the taste of capers preserved in salt to those preserved in brine (although either works here); I usually rinse and soak salted capers to remove excess salt. However, for this dressing, I used capers salt and all, and didn’t separately salt the dressing.
1 cup dried Christmas lima beans (6 ounces dried or 2 1/2 cups cooked)
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
5 bay leaves
2-3 red or green jalapeño peppers
4 tsp. capers, preferably salted
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt (omit if using unrinsed salted capers)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup chiffonade-cut fresh mint
Cook Beans: Place beans in large pot, cover them with 2 quarts of water mixed with 2 Tbsp. salt, and let soak overnight. The next day, drain and rinse beans. Return them to pot; add bay leaves and enough water to cover beans by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, cover, turn down heat to low, and simmer beans for 60-90 minutes, just until flesh is tender (be careful not to cook beans until they’re mushy). Drain beans, reserving bean cooking water (see Note below).
Make Dressing: While beans are cooking, purée jalapeños, capers, garlic, and red wine vinegar in blender. Add oil to other ingredients slowly, while blender is running. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Make Salad: Mix cooked beans with dressing, red onions, and fresh mint. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note on Bean Cooking Water: If I’m not using it right away, I freeze bags of bean cooking water and use instead of stock in soup and stew recipes. Cooking water from Christmas lima beans tastes particularly good, and is definitely worth saving.