Cold curried lima beans

It’s been a while since I posted more than the occasional piece on food; the last flurry was a series on dips, spreads, and dipspreads. Today’s dish — an old favorite of my household in Columbus OH — is too thick and chunky to be used as any of these, but it’s great as a salad or side dish, and, thanks to the curry in it, has the virtue of being palatable to many people who are otherwise unfond of lima beans.

The directions below are a very lightly edited version of a recipe posted in the Usenet newsgroup soc.motss back in 1995.

Ingredients:

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen baby green lima beans, cooked until tender in a ­little water with a tablespoon butter added
Crisp greens to line salad bowl, preferably curly endive or romaine [I don’t always bother with this]
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup ground Parmesan or Romano cheese, or a combination
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped parsley [I prefer flat parsley, and more than this], stems and all
3 or 4 green onions, tops and all, chopped
1 tablespoon [I prefer a good bit more] fresh basil, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
Juice of 2 limes [a bit more is better, I think] (use lemons only if you have to)
Salt to taste [I find that most Parmesan/Romano cheese is salty enough to make added salt unnecessary]

Instructions:

Put crushed garlic, curry powder, black pepper, cayenne, and olive oil in blender [or food processor]. Add cheese and cream and blend on low [or process briefly]. Add parsley, basil, and green onions and blend at high speed to liquefy [or just process for a while]. Add lime juice and briefly blend everything together. Taste and add juice of another lime if needed and salt if needed.

Drain the cooked limas and while they are still hot, pour the dressing over them. Stir together and chill. Stir again before serving. Line salad bowl with greens and pour the cold curried lima beans over them.
Serves 6 to 8.

Variations [from 1993]

There are three ingredients that could be varied: the spicing, the legumes, and the creamy substance. No, four, since I’ve already allowed for a certain latitude in the choice of grated cheese.

Different curry powders give a wide variety of results, from the most delicate and subtle to the fieriest, and with many different overtones and undertones: earthy, cinnamony, sweet, and so on.

I’ve never tried it with anything except limas, but I’d be willing to bet on chick peas. Favas might work too. [Warning: some folks of Mediterranean extraction suffer from favism, a life-threatening sensitivity to fava beans. My man Jacques’s mother – from southern France – was quite sick one summer in the early 1990s, apparently from breathing fava pollen while she was working in the garden.] Lentils are an intriguing possibility (I’m very fond of lentils).

Sour cream is a possible substitute for the [heavy sweet] cream, but it makes a seriously sour dish (unless you cut down on the lime juice).

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