Really! Enough just can’t be said about butterbeans. Whether green or speckled, a summer garden just wouldn’t be the same without them. Butterbeans served with fried corn, sliced tomatoes, cornbread and maybe a piece of barbecued chicken or pork tenderloin, is just heaven on a plate.
But now, don’t be fooled by one of my favorite home style menus because I have seen butterbeans on some of the best menus around, from a fine dining restaurant on Harbour Island, Bahamas to an upscale restaurant in Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia just to name a couple. On most of the menus the butterbeans are served with fish. That just goes to show you how versatile the taste of butterbeans can be. It’s a vegetable that can go with anything.
Whether you have the earthly dark speckled butterbeans or the small green butterbeans, enjoy them because it seems that they are becoming rare these day. If you happen not to grow them, but find them at a local farmers market, be prepared to pay a premium price. And they are worth every penny or I should say dollar. If you’re a new gardener and you have not tried butterbeans, then I hope you will because butterbeans have a wonderful texture on the outside with a creamy interior. Delicious!
I tried something new recently instead of just my plain old butterbeans which are good too, but this time I added some diced carrots and finely chopped onion to cook with my fresh butterbeans. The butterbeans had another level of flavor other than my old standby of bacon or ham, water and butterbeans. I’ve added the recipe below. Hope you enjoy them. In case you have leftovers, there are some other ideas added too.
2 or 3 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cups green butterbeans
1 small thyme sprig
Water to cover*
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the bacon pieces and olive oil into a saucepan large enough to hold the butterbeans and water. Add the carrot and onion and sauté until tender. Add the butterbeans and thyme, and then add enough water to cover, about an inch above the butterbeans. Bring the water to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook the butterbeans until slightly tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and then finish cooking until done. Remove the thyme sprig before serving.
* Check often to make sure that water has not evaporated and add more if needed to keep the butterbeans from being dry. Check for seasoning.
Butterbean Salad- My dad always liked his butterbeans with a little mayonnaise on them. So, I started making a salad of butterbeans. All I do is drain the cooked butterbeans, add the following items to taste: finely chopped celery, onion, green pepper, halved grape tomatoes, basil or dill, salt, pepper and mayonnaise, and occasionally a little sour cream.
Butterbean serving ideas-
Butterbean and tomato salad- Slice the top from a large tomato. Hollow out the inside. Save the meat of the tomato minus the seeds. Salt the inside of the tomato, turn upside down to drain, but salt the tomato again before using. Make a butterbean salad with dill and instead of using the grape tomatoes from the salad recipe above, use the meat of the hollowed out tomato that you saved. The juice from the tomato will blend with the mayo to make a nice dressing. One serving.
Butterbean Hummus-use your favorite hummus recipe and substitute butterbeans for the garbanzo beans.
Butterbeans, lemon and dill- Sauté cooked drained butterbeans in a small amount of butter or olive oil. Add a little squeeze of lemon and a little zest to taste. Add fresh chopped dill to taste. Serve.
Butterbeans and garlic butter- In a sauté pan melt butter and add finely chopped garlic in whatever amount of garlic and butter you like, adjusted to the amount of butterbeans you add. Cook garlic until tender. Add cooked butterbeans with a little of the liquid the beans were cooked in. Heat through, serve.
Butterbeans and Okra- Add fresh okra pods to butterbeans about 10 minutes before the butterbeans are done. Make sure to keep covered.
By Stacey Hirvela, Spring Meadow Nursery
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners/ColorChoice Shrubs
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