Cathys Kitchen Prescription LLC
Peruvian Gigantes Lima Beans
This dish highlights Peruvian flavors in a simple sauté with creamy Peruvian “gigantes” lima beans, roasted cherry tomatoes, fruity aji amarillo (yellow) chilies, and smoky aji panca red chilies. Lima beans are an ancient staple in Peru, cultivated even before corn. The Moche people revered these beans so much, they decorated their pre-Colombian pottery with images of lima beans.
Nutritional powerhouses, lima beans are very high in fiber, excellent sources of iron, protein, calcium, and other minerals, and carry an extremely low carbon footprint.
Serve with a side of roasted ears of corn and a big salad for scrumptious lunch, light supper, or as a side to other Peruvian dishes.
Prep time Overnight soak of lima beans +1 hour to cook the beans and roast tomatoes and aji Amarillo chilies
Cook time 15 minutes
Serves 3 to 5
1 pound Peruvian Gigantes lima beans, soaked overnight
2 bay leaves
3 large cloves garlic
1 to 2 frozen aji Amarillo chilies, defrosted, or to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground aji Panca chili from 1 to 2 whole dried chilies, or to taste
2 pounds cherry tomatoes, mixed colors, sliced in half lengthwise
2 teaspoons dried oregano or thyme leaves
1 red onion, cut in a medium dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground bay leaves from 4 to 5 whole bay leaves
2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin seed
Juice of 1 lime, or more to taste
1 ½ cups no-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Up to 1/3 cup aka (red) miso paste, dissolved in ½ cup warm water, or to taste
Garnish with cilantro leaves cut in a chiffonade (thin ribbons), a sprinkle of aji Panca powder, and a dusting of lime powder or lime zest.
Hint: The aji Amarillo and Panca chilies are moderately hot, each with its own uniquely fruity flavor. If you are not used to much heat in your dishes, start by adding half the suggested amount and taste as you go. You can always add more. They are delightful.
To prepare the lima beans, rinse, place in a pot, cover with water by a few inches, and soak overnight or for about 8 hours. Drain and rinse. Return to the pot, cover with fresh water, add the bay leaves and whole garlic cloves, and bring to a very low simmer. Like many tender white beans, lima beans are delicate and need more steeped than boiled, as anything higher than a gentle simmer can cause the beans to break. The amount of time required to cook them will depend on the age of the beans, but in general, they should simmer very gently for about an hour. They are cooked when their interior is soft, but the bean is still intact.
Drain. Remove any broken beans and reserve for another dish, like a Peruvian puréed bean dip.
While the beans are cooking, roast the tomatoes and chilies. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the whole defrosted aji Amarillo chilies and sliced cherry tomatoes, cut side up, on a large baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle with the dried oregano or thyme and grinds of black pepper. Insert the pan on the middle oven shelf and roast them for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the chilies are golden and the tomatoes have softened and begun to caramelize on their cut edges. The chilies may be ready slightly ahead of the tomatoes. Cut the roasted Amarillo chilies in ½-inch slices, and save any delicious juices from the chilies and tomatoes.
Remove the stems from the aji Panca chiles. Use a pair of scissors or a knife to cut in pieces and grind them in an electric spice or coffee grinder, pulverizing the chilies, seeds and all, into flakes or a finer chili powder, as you like.
Wipe the bowl of the coffee grinder with a dry paper towel and add the bay leaves, tearing them as needed to fit in the grinder. Grind to create bay flakes or powder.
Clean the grinder again and grinder the cumin seeds into a powder.
Heat a very large skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the onions and dry sauté them for a few minutes, until they soften, release their liquid, and begin to darken the pan. Deglaze the pan with a tablespoon or two of the reserved roasted tomato and chili juices or vegetable broth, scraping up the caramelized onion sugars with a wooden spoon. Add the garlic, ground cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of the ground aji Panca chilies, and ground bay leaves.
After a minute, stir in the roasted tomatoes and chilies. Amarillo chilies are fruity and moderately hot. If you are sensitive to heat, add 1 chili now and reserve the second until the beans have been added so you can correct the level of heat to your tastes.
Add 1 cup of the vegetable broth and cook for 5 minutes. Now gently add the cooked Gigantes beans, stirring the sauce over them and taking care not to break them. Season with black pepper to taste and cook for 5 minutes to meld all flavors.
Turn off the heat. Squeeze on the lime juice, sprinkle in some unsalted peanuts, if using, and season with diluted miso to your tastes. Taste to correct all seasonings. Adjust the lime, chilies, cumin, pepper, etc. as you like. Add a little more broth, if the mix seems dry, to sauce the beans adequately.
Serve in warmed bowls. Garnish with slivers of cilantro leaves, lime powder or zest for aroma, and dusting of aji Panca powder for its smokiness and color.
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