Key Ingredient

A Better Butter Bean

By: The Local Palate

Why we’re up for a new take on butter beans

Fresh butter beans are high on my list of favorite vegetable standouts. They are so irresistible that we’re willing to stain and scuff up the sides of our thumbs to liberate a mess from their pods, even though we can usually find baggies of shelled butter beans at local farmers markets and produce stands. I love the meaty speckled varieties that look like polished creek pebbles glinting in the summer sun. I’m smitten by the jade green ones no larger than a dime or, as some would say, “about the size of a squirrel’s ear.”

Whether speckled or green, butter beans are members of the lima bean family. Gosh, I really hate to hear that. The memories of ruinously cooked lima beans dissuade some people from trying butter beans at all, guilt by grim association. Perhaps Southern gardeners started using the term “butter beans” to give their beloved legumes a fresh start under an assumed name. It’s more likely that these fresh beans earned the name by being so dainty and tender that they practically melt like butter in our mouths.

There are other beans around the world and perhaps in our pantries that are also identified as butter beans, namely those ginormous white dried beans, which have their own appeal, but they are by no means what Southerners are talking about when we laud these fresh beans. We know our good thing when we see it, summer after summer. We strategically eat all we can while they’re in season and stock the freezer with enough to tide us over the rest of the year.

Many of us were raised on this key ingredient prepared only the traditional way, seasoned with pork and cooked until creamy, and they are delicious. But these beans are willing and able to be spruced up and lightened in recipes that provide fresh inspiration for enjoying them, if not giving them a go for the first time.

Must-Try Recipes With Butter Beans

Butterbean Rice Pilaf

Butter Bean and Rice Pilaf with Dill and Feta

Creamed butter bean

Simple and Sublime Creamed Butter Beans

Succotash chow chow

Succotash Chow Chow

Butterbean Spread with Mint Basil & Lime

Butter Bean Dip with Mint, Basil, and Lime

Butter bean tomato salad

Butter Bean and Tiny Tomato Salad with Honey-Lemon Citronette and Bacon Gremolata

Key Ingredient

Key Ingredient: Green Chickpeas

Martha Wilcox brings recognition to the Middle Eastern delicacy of seasoned green chickpeas at Indianola restaurant in Houston.

Key Ingredient

Key Ingredient: No Small Peanuts

Tyler Brown enhances the flavor and texture of famous blister-fried peanuts by Hubs Peanuts, created by Dot Hubbard, celebrating 70 years.

Key Ingredient

Key Ingredient: Preserved Lemons

Chelsea Hott of Alma Bea in West Virginia elevates apple compote with the bright and complex flavors of preserved lemons.

trending content

More From Key Ingredient

Leave a Reply

Be the first to comment.