Saturday, July 21, 2012

Packed with Nutrients and Flavor

It’s summer time and Three Bean Salad figures prominently on our table.  But, the Bobbie Sue Three Bean Salad would be unrecognizable to most Americans.  Why?  Well, to be blunt, commercial or restaurant Three Bean Salad has earned a distinguished place on my Scary Food List.  Usually made with canned legumes, soggy over-cooked or canned green and yellow beans, these salads are made with enough sugar to stop a tank.  The ingredients label for commercial three bean salad contains a long list of unpronounceable ingredients, which means in addition to qualifying for a high ranking on my Scary Food List, they meet my criteria for processed food.  Bobbie Sue’s Three Bean Salad uses red kidney beans, lima beans, green peas, and absolutely no sugar.  And, it is packed with nutrients and flavor.

Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are a wonder food.  Having been cultivated in Peru for over 7,000 years, lima beans are among of the earliest cultivated crops of the indigenous people’s of the Americas.  They have a deliciously subtle flavor and a rich buttery texture, hence the name they are known by in the American South—butter beans. High in many important trace minerals, they are also high in cholesterol scrubbing fiber.  The high fiber content makes lima beans an excellent choice for diabetics as it helps prevent spiking in post-meal blood sugar levels.  For vegetarians and vegans-- when lima beans and rice are combined a complete protein is formed. 

Regrettably, the growing season in Northern Vermont is not lima bean friendly.  We are able to grow kidney beans and green peas, which is why they are both featured in this recipe.  Enjoy!

Notes for this recipe: Although the texture and flavor will suffer, canned (rinsed and drained) dark red kidney beans can be substituted for dried. Cilantro can be substituted for dill.  Yellow onion can be substituted for red, and finely diced celery can be added in addition to the celery seed.  Please do not substitute yellow mustard for Dijon.  This dish tastes best when made a day ahead.  

 Bobbie Sue’s Three Bean Salad

1 lb. dried kidney beans
3 c. peas (fresh or frozen)
1 lb. lima beans (fresh or frozen)
Kosher salt
3 cloves garlic peeled & minced
1/3 c. finely chopped dill
¼ c. finely chopped red onion
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. canola oil
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. celery seed
Sea Salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Prepare kidney beans as directed in my previous post Preparing Legumes.  Alternately, you can cover the beans with cold water and soak them over night, and then follow the directions for Preparing Legumes.  Soaking reduces cooking time.  When the kidney beans are cooked, pour into a colander and rinse immediately with cold water.  Allow them to drain well.

While the kidney beans are cooking, select a large pan, fill with water, and bring to a boil. While you wait for the water to boil, place a large colander in the sink, and have a heat-proof bowl and skimmer next to the stove.   Add 1 Tbsp. Kosher salt to the water, when it boils again, add the peas and cook to just tender.  Use the skimmer to remove the peas from the water to the heat-proof bowl.  Transfer the peas to the colander in the sink and spray immediately with cold water, and allow to drain.  When well drained tip them into the bowl with the peas.  Add the kidney beans and set aside.

Return the pan of water to a boil and add the lima beans.  While the lima beans are cooking, tip the peas into a bowl.  Return the colander to the sink. When the lima beans are cooked to just tender, pour them into the colander and rinse immediately with cold water.  Allow to drain. When well drained tip them into the bowl with the peas.  Add the kidney beans and set aside.


In a small bowl place the minced garlic, chopped dill and onion.  Add the red wine vinegar, oil, mustard, and celery seed.  Mix to combine.  Pour over beans, and fold in with a rubber spatula until beans are well coated.  Scrape into an airtight storage container and refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  Allow the dish to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.

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