The Much Maligned Lima Bean and Ham Pasta.

by Sarah on April 29, 2011

Lima Beans.  Are you one of those people who screech “EEEWWWWWW” and run from the kitchen?  Did you have a bad lima bean experience in the school cafeteria?  Sometimes I feel like I am the only person on the planet (well, besides my kids) that enjoys a lima bean.  Lima beans, butter beans, Madagascar beans, sugar beans.  Whatever you want to call ‘em, I will eat ‘em.

Limas are so good for you!  Why wouldn’t you like them?  They are chock full of dietary fiber, are a non-fat source of high-quality protein, and are loaded with a myriad of vitamins and minerals.

The problem is, unlike their celebrity cousins the fava beans, limas get no respect.   They’re not on any fancy menus, but they may be on the elementary school tray menu, where they likely get thrown in the trash.  With a little love, those limas can be every bit as good as their more famous relatives.   In fact, I’d like to grow them just to have some fun with them fresh out of the garden.

I was craving lima beans for some reason recently.  So I bought a bag of the frozen ones.  The problem is that my spouse hates and despises these poor harmless beans.  So I waited.  And waited.  Finally, he was out with the guys and I had my chance.  Lima bean dinner!

I decided to braise them in a little cream with some butter, shallot and pepper, to get them tender and a little sweet.  Then I tossed in some leftover bits of ham.  I decided to toss it with some pasta at the last minute just so there would be something more for the childrens.

Boiled some pasta on the side and tossed it in the pan with the cream and beans and let it all come together.  Seasoned with salt, pepper and some Parmesan cheese and that was it.  It really was good.

So give the lima bean a little respect.  And give them a try, even if you think you don’t like them.   Maybe you just had a lima bean that was treated badly.  Give it a little love (and cream) and you might just change your mind.

Lima Beans Braised in Cream, with Ham over Pasta


  • 1 1-lb bag lima beans
  • 1 small carton heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 lb pasta (I used baby farfalle)
  • salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese


  • Boil pasta according to package directions until al dente.
  • In a saute pan, melt the butter and saute the shallots until softened but not browned. Add the lima beans and stir. Add the cream and cook over low heat until the limas are tender and sweet, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the ham, salt and pepper.
  • Toss in the cooked pasta and stir, over medium-low heat for another 5 minutes or so. Add Parmesan.

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