Things are … busy? overwhelming? exhausting? Yes. Mid-semester is best served with a Boulevardier.
I was in denial through a warm and humid September and early October. As I waited in vain for my beloved crisp days and the crunch of leaves under my feet, all I can think about are soups and stews and slow braises. My sourdough starter has been in regular rotation, and I’ve been trying to perfect my microlevain to get me through my chilly kitchen this winter.
But hark! Last weekend it finally began to feel like fall—I celebrated my birthday with a blustery day perfect for curling up with books, cats, and tea, and this week we had our first frost! And what better way to celebrate than with creamy, tender legumes and a poached egg?
Lima beans are one of those foods that I just can’t comprehend anyone hating. There are lots of things I like where I get it. I only came around on broccoli in the last year or so. Goat cheese is nothing if not intense. For the first seven or eight years that I ate beets I thought they tasted like dirt, but I soldiered on and came around on them. But lima beans! They’re so simple! They’re creamy and starchy and to my mind entirely unobjectionable. But then again, if I think they’re an odd thing to hate, I have to admit that they’re an odd thing to love, and I adore them.
Growing up, my mom always cooked baby lima beans simply: simmered until practically falling apart, with just a sprinkling of salt and maybe a bit of butter. While I still make them this way quite often, I love to cook them a little bit less—so that they are totally soft but still hold their shape—and amp things up with a generous amount of cream. These are a great base for a good crispy-seared piece of white fish, like halibut, but my favorite way to eat them is topped with a poached egg. Served with some crusty bread, it makes a perfect lunch, light dinner, or even breakfast.
Creamy Lima Beans
Adapted from an Orangette recipe. Because of the simplicity of this recipe, it is worth it to get the best cream you can find.
1 pound frozen baby lima beans (about 3 cups; one standard bag)
1 cup water
¾ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional to taste
freshly ground black pepper
3–4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon butter
2–4 poached eggs (optional)
Dump the frozen beans and the water into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, adjust heat to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 15–20 minutes. Gently drain any remaining water and return to the pot with the cream, salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the fresh time. Cook over low heat, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes longer, until slightly thickened—don’t let it come to a boil. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve hot, topped with a poached egg and with lots of crusty bread for sopping up the broth.
Serves 3–4 (as a meal) or 4–6 (as a side)