It was a cloudy day when I stopped by my friend Shalini ‘s place for lunch on her birthday back in late April. I was so happy to have somewhere to go on this cold and dreary rainy day because honestly otherwise I would have been at home binge watching some TV show. This way I got out of the house and spent a lovely afternoon with my dear friend Shalini over a healthy and delicious lunch at her place.
I made a mango salad and took it with me, while Shalini made zucchini soup and butter bean salad. This salad was hearty, filling and delicious. I asked Shalini for the recipe so I could make it again at home and she shared it with me.
Here are some interesting facts about butter beans. When I went looking for canned butter beans in the grocery store to make this salad, I had a hard time finding them. I actually called Shalini from the store to ask her if there was another name for these beans. She said she only knew them as butter beans. After really looking hard for it, I finally found butter beans in the top corner shelf of the canned goods isle, and they happend to be a product of Italy. I was curious, why were they a product of Italy? Is there another source for these beans?
This is what I found out, butter beans are the same thing as lima beans. When fresh green lima beans mature and dried they become a pale beige in color. At this point they are called butter beans because of their starchy yet buttery texture, because these lima beans are beige or white when mature and dried, and because the beans are large and yellow in the can.
According to horticulturists lima beans were originally cultivated in the mountainous regions of South America, while butter beans come from the warmer climate region of Mexico. The web site Wisegeek explains that lima beans and butter beans are genetically similar and both have the same scientific name of Phaseolus lunatus. So really lima beans and butter beans are one and the same.
In the southern United States butter beans are the dried lima beans. And in the UK, butter beans are only known as butter beans whether the lima beans are fresh or dried. That explains why Shalini only knew lima beans as butter beans, because she is from England 🙂
Lima beans or butter beans are full of fiber, low on the glycemic index, and are overall very healthy for you. They are high in protein, fat-free, lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, and provide slow burning energy. They also contain Vitamin B6, Thiamine, Pantothenic Acid, Niacin, and minerals.
I made this butter bean salad at home for a lunch I hosted with my Dad and friends Devi, Del, and Rose. The salad turned out great. Here is Shalini’s recipe for Butter Bean Salad.
Shalini’s Butter Bean Salad:
- 2 cans butter beans drained and rinsed
- 1 box cherry tomatoes
- 4-6 sprigs of fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 tsp dry or fresh oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp mustard
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Cut cherry tomatoes into halves and place in salad bowl. You can also add chopped zucchini, red onions or bell peppers.
- Add the rinsed butter beans.
- Add finely chopped mint leaves.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp oregano, thyme and any herbs of your choice and mix.
- Make the dressing: In a small bowl mix 1 tsp yellow mustard, juice of 1 lemon, and 4 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust for salt. I found my dressing to be a little sour so I added 1 tsp honey to offset the sourness.
- Add dressing to salad and toss.
- This salad tastes best when you let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to marinate before serving.