March 08, 2011

Dinner Guests | Warm lima bean salad

I appreciate the challenge people face when they invite a vegan to dinner, and they're not used to cooking without animal products, so I don't flinch (much) when faced with the culinary challenges posed by my guests. Recently, I welcomed a guest who eats no onions, no legumes, no no spices, and very few vegetables. I love her so I did my best to accommodate, while still providing food choices the other spice-loving, vegetable devouring guests would enjoy.

The guest of honor requested pasta, so I made a warm pasta dish using quinoa pasta. The dish contained halved grape tomatoes, zucchini spears, sliced mushrooms, kalamata olives, garlic, fresh basil, Italian parsley, toasted walnuts, olive oil, and a touch of coarse sea salt. The veggies were lightly cooked and large enough to be easily picked out if necessary. I had also planned to include browned tofu in a small dice, but completely forgot about it. Along with a big green salad brought by one of the other guests, she had a complete meal that she could eat.

We also had a platter of roasted vegetables with carrots, sweet potatoes, eggplant, turnip, celariac and brussels sprouts — something for everyone — and a warm lima bean salad. I recently read that lima beans are good for your bones, so I disregarded the fact that I've never been fond of limas, and used them in a dish. Now I think that lima beans taste good!

I made the pasta and lima beans the way I often do, by first thinking about how I wanted the final dish to taste, then deciding what ingredients were needed to get the taste I was after. Then I wrote down a list of ingredients so I wouldn't forget them. I did manage to forget the tofu for the pasta, but usually this cooking plan works well for me — except when I want to reproduce a recipe. I have a pretty good idea what was in the lima beans so a recipe of sorts for that dish will appear below.

For dessert we had another golden cake, since I'm still experimenting with pan sizes and frosting ingredients. I used an 8x3-inch straight-sided pan, and it was about 1-inch too high. Now I think an 8x2-inch would be perfect and I'm kind of worried I'm going to own every pan size available before I'm done! Is there a cure for cake pan addiction?

The cake decorations were modest, as usual, but look how pretty the cake looks. At least I think it looks pretty. I used two sweet potatoes in the chocolate-sweet potato frosting — didn't measure but I estimate about 1-1/2 cups of mashed potato. I think I'm addicted to this frosting, originated by the recipe-creator extraordinaire, Ricki Heller. Thank you, Ricki!!! (The next time I make this cake I'm going to add orange zest to the batter.)

Warm lima bean salad (no added oil)
serves 10-12 as a side dish, with leftovers
The amounts in this recipe are flexible and open to interpretation.
  • 1-1/2 cups dried baby lima beans, soaked overnight, drained, rinsed and cooked with fresh water, then drained (or 2 to 3 16-ounce cans cooked lima beans, rinsed and drained)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons stone ground prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoons grated palm sugar (or 2 tablespoons dark evaporated cane juice)
  • 2 large carrots, small dice (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, (about two teaspoons)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts in water, drained, rinsed if desired, quartered
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 cups thinly sliced green onions
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, or to taste
  1. Cook the lima beans in your preferred way. You can simmer them in a large, covered pot until they are tender, or cook them in a pressure cooker. The pot will take about two hours, and the pressure cooker will take five to seven minutes. You could also buy them already cooked, in a can. (two to three cans) If you cook the beans, save the cooking liquid to use as soup stock.
  2. Make the dressing by mixing together the lemon juice, mustard and sugar.
  3. In a large skillet or wok, steam the garlic, carrots, corn, peas and artichokes in about 1/4 cup of water until the carrots are bright orange and a little tender, and the frozen veggies are cooked, about three to five minutes. Add more water if needed but aim to have all the water evaporate.
  4. Add the drained beans and cumin. Cook until beans are warm.
  5. Turn off the heat and mix in the onions, parsley, and dressing.
  6. Add the salt, to taste.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. If your cake is too high, just reserve a little of the mix and make yourself a few little cupcakes... you know, just so that you can check it tastes ok, for everyone else... ;) hehe

  2. What a fabulous dinner, sounds like everyone's tastes were met. The roasted veggie plate and the lima bean salad are especially captivating!

    Your cake is lovely too! I love the ribbing along the sides and top: very elegant. And orange zest sounds like a wonderful addition.

    Cake pan addiction you say? Oh that's a slippery slope. :D

  3. The cake is so pretty again.

    I haven't given lima beans a try since childhood but your dish looks like a reason to give them a second chance.

  4. Megan,
    I wish the cake were too high. :D It was the pan that was too high — no cupcakes for me.

    I didn't think I liked lima beans but I'm so glad I decided to give them a try — they're good!

    I saw a cake with ribbing at PCC and figured it was something even I could do. It does add a touch of elegance to a plain design.

    How many cake pans do you have? :D

    Thank you. I don't have the cake skills that you have, but I keep trying.

  5. Andrea, nice job being kind to everyone's preferences. We recently had a dinner party for a diabetic, and I automatically assumed all vegetables would be fine but didn't even think that sweet potato would cause a problem. Maybe the "sweet" in the name should have tipped me off, duh!
    I love the idea of a roasted veggie plate! Mellow crudites! The cake looks beautiful too.
    I recently got into lima beans when my sister made them for Christmas with this recipe:
    It was delicious!

  6. Hey, perfect timing - we just bough some lima beans! Thanks!

  7. I agree, tht pasta would be appealing to anyone, dietary restrictions or not. So wait, does that mean that I can come over to your place for dinner now, because you'd accommodate me?? ;)

    And I thnk your cake is beautiful--I love how the coconut looks like little snowflakes between the chocolate disks!

  8. The pasta salad looks delicious! Sometimes I forget to include things I meant to throw in too. But I'm sure the pasta was fine without the tofu. And the cake looks beautiful, simple is nice. It makes it look elegant. :-)

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  10. Foodfeud,
    Special diet can be tricky — I asked about all the ingredients I planned to use but I probably got something wrong that I don't even know about. You had lots of options at your dinner so there was probably enough for everyone to choose from. Thanks for the lima bean recipe — I'll definitely check it out now that I like limas.

    I'll be looking for a post on your blog with more recipes for lima beans.

    You're kidding. Of course I'd accommodate you — and I know just where to go to find recipes. :D I can accommodate any dietary challenges, though I admit that some are more challenging than others. Yours is relatively easy. (Relatively ...)

    Chow vegan,
    You're right that the pasta was fine without the tofu, and I didn't even remember it until the next day when I opened the refrigerator and saw it — still in its tub, uncooked. But, still...

    Thank you for saying that simple cakes are nice, because my cakes will probably always be simple. I am getting an urge to try piping the frosting onto the cake — probably too lazy, though, to actually do it.

  11. What fabulous eats you had! I think your cake turned out so pretty. I love lima beans, so I will have to try this recipe! Every thing you made looks delicious!

  12. Lol, not too many. :)

  13. Michelle,
    Thank you. It's possible vegans and vegetarians appreciate my cooking more than omnivores, but I try to please all ... :)

    Why don't I believe you?

  14. Wow, Andrea, that IS a challenge! It looks like you did a great job, though.

    That lima bean salad sounds (and looks) delicious! I love limas and artichoke hearts and can't wait to try it :-)


  15. Courtney,
    Thanks! It can be fun to cook using restricted ingredients — makes you really think about what you're doing. In this case the biggest complication was making the meal vegan, and still having it be good, since I couldn't use my favorite veggies.

  16. Just wanted to say hello! I just stumbled across your blog and am so glad I did! Cant wait to try out some of your yummy looking recipes!

  17. Thank you so much for reading my blog and leaving such a nice comment. I hope you find a recipe you like.

  18. Oh, I love a culinary challenge too! I think it has something to do with appreciating the challenge I make for people, so I always want to be as accomodating as possible. The only lima beans I ever ate growing up were canned, and I HATED them fiercely! Yeech. I never even knew dried beans existed until I met my husband, G. He grew up on dried beans. I hesitantly tried dried lima beans, and I couldn't believe they were the same bean! I love the dried version, and how fun to find out they are good for my bones, too. As for your cake pan obsession, I offer you no hope - I have so many baking pans, they fall out of my cupboard when I go a-searching for the perfect one.

  19. You really are a gracious and accommodating hostess, as well as one unfazed by any culinary challenge. Not surprised on either count! :-)

    Your cake looks both pretty AND delicious! (And I don't believe Rose either re: her cake pan inventory. LOL)

    I was never allowed to be a fussy eater as a kid, and that may be why I'm not a fussy eater now - I pretty much love everything vegan. Except for beets (unless they're pickled) and lima beans! I love all other beans, not sure what it always was about lima beans that turned me off - maybe the texture? I should definitely use your recipe as inspiration to try them again, since I've not eaten them as an adult. Tastes change and I think they deserve another chance - it worked for my opinion of Brussels sprouts, after all! :-)

  20. Blessedmama,
    I think dried beans in general taste better than canned, but canned beans are so EASY.

    If there's no hope for my pan addiction, I might as well just go get another one ...

    Beets are not on my fave list, either. Roasted beets are interesting, though. Try that.

    I haven't eaten lima beans in about 20 years, so it was an odd choice to try out on company, but it all worked out, and I really liked them. Lima beans taste GOOD, in spite of what you and I may have believed. :D Beets, though, and things that taste like beets, like beet greens and Swiss chard, are only to be eaten in moderation.

  21. The cake is gorgeous!

    and I think it's wonderful you made such a fabulous meal for your friend! I think with people like us, creating awesome food is so much fun and restrictions can make us even more creative!

  22. What a challenge! The pasta dish looks delicious, you definitely made the most of the challenge!

    Your cake is beautiful! I love the chocolate buttons. Leave it to Ricki to come up with a chocolate/sweet potato frosting! That woman is pure genius! Orange zest sounds like a great addiction... addition! Chocolate and orange are such a good combo.

  23. No artichoke hearts, onions, legumes, and no spices!? I applaud you for coming up with something for them that looks so delicious. It can be so tough cooking for picky eaters! When my future brother-in-law was visiting us not long ago he would only eat Eggo waffles, Frosted Flakes, and pasta with Ragu.

  24. Melody,
    You are one of the most creative cooks I "know," and I can't imagine you having a problem coming up with great food no matter what the restrictions.

    So nice to hear from you again. I worry when favorite bloggers go under cover for long stretches. :D

    I agree with you that Ricki is a genius for coming up with fabulous and healthy treats that taste just like their unhealthy counterparts.

    I never could eat frosted flakes even when I was a child — too sweet. To be fair, my guest is picky because of medical issues. I'm sure she would be a more adventurous eater if she could.

  25. your quinoa pasta dish looks so yummy! i just went gluten-free about two weeks ago, so basically no one wants to even try to cook for me anymore :( i foresee a lot of group meals consisting of raw veggie platter snacks in my future. i've had quinoa pasta before, but just the other day i tried that kind--i think it's the same kind you used here--ancient harvest "garden pagodas." i love that you can actually taste the red bell pepper in them, and the texture is awesome.

  26. I was going to ask if your guest had allergies or was just a fussy eater, but I see you've answered that. Goodness! What a restrictive diet! Well done for managing to cater for her! I'm assuming she eats mostly meat?

    I think lima beans are what we, over here, call 'butter beans'? I adore them! A favourite way for me to eat them is cooked in the pressure cooker and then salted and cider vinegared. With a slice of bread and marg. Mmmm.... I like your salad, too, though and will give it a try.

    Sweet potato frosting? OMG! I MUST try that. Sweet potatoes and I have a very warm relationship!

  27. i love lima beans, but they seem to be one of those often-overlooked ingredients. i don't see a lot of recipes that call for them. maybe because a lot of people don't care for them? your salad sounds awesome -- i'm putting it on my "must make" list!


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