Lima Beans with Spinach, Feta, and Za’atar

Oh my goodness, this is so delicious, and I kind of can’t believe I haven’t made it several times already (my only holdback: I am out of lima beans!) It is also from Yotam Ottolenghi‘s amazing book Plenty. This book is so drool-worthy: I want to make very single recipe in it, and that is kind of a rarity! I adapted his recipe to fit what I had on hand or could easily obtain, and I learned that this is a recipe that can withstand lots and lots of tweaking. I love to find a good template for experimentation!

While each and every ingredient really shines, the centerpiece is za’atar. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix, containing dried thyme leaves, sesame seeds, salt, and sumac. The vibrant red sumac gives it a lovely kick. I had never heard of za’atar until recently, when my parents bought Eric a collection of exciting spices from Penzeys, and now both Eric and I, as well as my parents, put it on everything! Penzeys is full of treasures, and you can get za’atar, among other fun things, from them here.

Another lovely little kick comes from fresh chilis and green onions. The ones above came from our little kitchen garden.

The recipe itself couldn’t be much more simple; you just saute the ingredients one by one, and inhale the deliciousness until it’s ready. The other recipes in the book are so much more complicated that I kind of kept pinching myself and checking to see if I was missing something while I was cooking it! The happy verdict is that this is a very easy weeknight dinner recipe.

Eric really likes the faces I make when I bite into something delicious (apparently my eyes go all wide, and a huge grin takes over my face), and I definitely remember producing such an expression when I tasted this! (As a side note, one of Eric’s colleagues gave us this Cuisinart saute pan for our wedding, and I *love* it! Well, we both love it, actually! :))

We ate this dinner out on our balcony in the cool evening air, and I wondered why I hadn’t given lima beans a fair shot before. I guess I associated them too much with flavorless frozen vegetable mixes, but oh my goodness, they are so much better than that when done properly! As one of my dear comrades recently discovered herself about the humble lima bean, there are many rewards to overcoming culinary bias!

Lima Beans with Spinach, Feta, and Zatar
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi‘s Plenty

1 lb dried lima beans (If you are using canned, I would say maybe 3 cans)
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 green onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 fresh red or green chili peppers, thinly sliced
5 c spinach, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
5 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled
2 tsp za’atar
Handful of chopped fresh herbs (I used dill and parsley)

– Cook the lima beans in a pressure cooker for 20-25 minutes in plenty of water and with a dash of olive oil. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, soak the lima beans overnight in twice their volume of water and then cook over medium heat (a gentle boil) for 30 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally, and adding more water if needed).
– Drain the beans and heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the beans until heated through.
– Add the green onions, garlic, chili peppers, and saute for about a minute. Add the spinach about 1-2 c at a time, and saute until it is cooked through.
– Remove the skillet from the heat and season the beans with salt if needed. Drizzle the lemon juice on top, then scatter with Feta, za’atar and the fresh herbs. Mix well, serve, and enjoy!

 

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