These giant white beans (a.k.a. Lima beans or butter beans) make the easiest, healthy salad! Drizzle with some Mediterranean dressing and you have the perfect lunch.
The idea for this healthy giant white bean salad came to me when I was making Gigandes plaki, a common traditional Greek recipe with beans in a rich tomato sauce that gets baked in the oven for extra flavor. Before I put the boiled beans in the oven, I tasted one to check if they needed some extra salt and even plain, it was so delicious that I knew I had to make a bean salad recipe that would highlight the great flavor of these legumes. If I’m not mistaken, these beans are also called lima beans or butter beans but they should not be confused with fava or broad beans which is another kind of legumes.
How to prepare giant/ butter beans
The tradition calls for dried giant white beans. These dried beans should be soaked in salted water for at least 12 hours, though 24-48 hours will give you even better results. Soaking them in salted water actually helps them cook faster. If it’s summer and your kitchen is warm, you should soak the beans stored inside the fridge. After soaking them, you’ll simmer them gently in a pot filled with soft water until tender. And remember not to add any salt. Adding salt to any legume while boiling them will cause them to harden and become tough. If the water in your area is hard, use bottled water.
If you want to use canned beans, then all you have to do is rinse them and combine them with the rest of the salad ingredients (however, I find the dried ones tastier).
Butter beans, Lima beans, and Fava beans
I’m sure that this bean salad recipe will work with any kind of beans. However, Gigandes beans really shine here. I still am a bit unsure about how the rest of the world calls them. As I said, in Greece they’re called Gigandes which means giants. After an internet search, I’ve come to the conclussion that the same beans are known as Lima beans in some parts of the world and butter beans in other parts.
You should not mistake them with broad beans or fava beans which have a slightly different shape, they’re green when fresh and beige/brown when dried. If you happen to have some fresh fave beans you can also use them in this salad instead of lima beans, but I urge you to first try them in this fresh fava bean salad because they pair amazingly well with black olives.
- Use freshly dried lima beans. Beans over a year old may be less tender.
- soak the beans in salted water
- simmer in soft water without adding any salt
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- 1 pound (450-500 grams) dried Giant white beans/lima beans
- 1 large bunch parsley chopped
- 2-3 green onions (shallots) chopped
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half (or 2 large tomatoes, chopped)
- 1/2 cup sliced and pitted olives
- 2 tablespoons capers optional
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- the juice from half a lemon or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- a pinch of salt
- 1-2 tablespoons dijon mustard optional
Soak the beans: soak the beans in a large bowl filled with water and one tablespoon salt. The water should be at least twice the height of the beans. You should soak them for 24-48 hours (or at least overnight, in case you forget!)
Boil the beans: Rinse them well, transfer them in a pot and fill with water (if the water from your tap is hard, use bottled water). Don't add any salt. Open the heat and simmer gently for 45-60 minutes or until tender. You may have to skim some foam at the beginning with a spoon. When the beans are ready, take them off the heat and fill the pot with tap water. Drain, and refill the pot with water (this will prevent the skins from peeling off).
Make the salad: transfer the Giant white beans to a large serving bowl and mix them gently with the rest of the ingredients.
Make the dressing: transfer everything into a jar and shake well to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad. Alternatively, you can just add the dressing ingredients to the salad and mix gently to combine. Eat!
- if you don’t have shallots you can use chives or 1 red onion, chopped
- this recipe makes about 6 servings as a side and 4-5 servings as lunch
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