Post by

The Lowly Lima Part One: Artichoke Fennel and Lima Bean Stew

This recipe makes us love the lima bean, the humble bean that many people are not even sure they actually like. Fresh bulb fennel is combined with canned or frozen artichokes, lemon juice and lima beans.  Don’t like fennel?  Try this and you may change your mind as the vegetable combination mellows the anise flavor and creates a fresh taste.

artichokefennel-stew-ingredientsWith its lemony sauce and less common blend of vegetables, this stew is delicious and hits the spot for flavor, with the fennel melting into a creamy, satisfying accompaniment to some crusty bread. Enjoy alone or with a salad or other side dish and a tasty beverage . It’s also great for parties since it’s easy to prepare large delicious batches. This is a variation of a Greek dish so many thanks and apologies if we’ve converted it to our own.

We use dried baby organic limas but larger beans are fine too.  As with most dried beans, the limas should be soaked overnight (the procrastinators can also do a Quick Soak – see note) then cooked until firm.  We use the pressure cooker (either stove-top or electric like the Instant Pot) to get the right stage without too much fuss. These baby limas took 10 minutes at full pressure, quick release.  If you don’t have a pressure cooker or want a faster option, you can always use canned or frozen limas. Fresh lima beans are a real treat and sometimes available in farmer’s markets but you’re unlikely to see them in any supermarket.


For the Stew:

5-6 Tablespoons Lemon Juice (about 3 lemons)

2 1/2 Cups Water

6-8 Artichoke Hearts (about one can but frozen is fine too)

3 Tablespoons Olive or other oil (Peanut, etc.)

1 Large Onion, finely chopped

3-4 Cloves Garlic, crushed

3-4 Cups cooked Lima Beans (can use frozen, canned or  fresh if you find them)

1 Small Fennel bulb – chopped (a few leaves are nice too)

2-3 Bay leaves

Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Sauce:

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Flour

2-3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice (one large lemon)

1 Cup Bean cooking liquid or water

Salt and Pepper to taste

NOTE: Quick Soak means you cover the washed dried beans with 2-3 inches of water and bring to a boil Turn off heat and soak one hour covered.

artichoke-fennel-stew-pot-close-upHOW TO MAKE IT:

Step One: Submerge artichokes in lemon juice and water. This prevents discoloration and adds flavor.

Step Two: In a large pot that can hold the finished stew, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft but not too browned.

Step Three: Add the lima beans and some liquid to the pot and cook for another few minutes together to blend flavors.

Step Four: Drain the artichokes, and add to the pot along with the fennel, bay leaves, salt, and pepper, and enough water (or lima bean cooking liquid) to barely cover the beans.

artichoke-fennel-stew-close-upStep Five: Bring mixture to a simmer, cover and gently cook for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the flavors start to blend together. Drain and reserve any remaining cooking liquid.

Step Six: In another small saucepan, heat the oil, add the flour with a whisk to make a thick paste. Allow it to change to a golden brown color.

Step Seven: Whisk the lemon juice and then the 1 cup water or lima cooking liquid into the saucepan.  Cook over a gentle heat until sauce has thickened with no lumps and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. The sauce can either be poured on top to serve or mixed into the stew.  Garnish with some chopped fennel leaves.

Humble beans make happy meals. Enjoy with good company.