Christmas dinner is a time for tradition; a time when we often make the foods that our mothers and grandmothers once prepared. Often these dishes bring back warm food memories; other times they bring back less warm memories of foods that might be family traditions, but weren’t personal favorites. Well, I had the latter reaction when I saw a photo and recipe in a hundred-year-old magazine for Lima Beans en Casserole (Baked Lima Beans).
Memories flooded back of this lima bean dish that my mother made every Christmas. I usually managed to avoid eating it during the holiday festivities – but I always had to eat it during the week following Christmas when my mother served the left-overs (and there always seemed to be lots of left-over lima beans).
Each year, I hopefully suggested that maybe we didn’t need to make Baked Lima Beans; and every year, my suggestion would be vetoed by my father (which seemed very strange because he didn’t generally get involved in menu planning). But he always insisted that it wouldn’t be Christmas without lima beans.
When I saw the old recipe for Lima Beans en Casserole (Baked Lima Beans), I just had to give it a try. Was it really the bland tasteless dish of my memories, or was it a food worthy of the Christmas dinner table?
I’m pleased to say that Lima Beans en Casserole tasted like I remember, but in a much better way. Across the years (and as my taste buds have matured), Lima Beans en Casserole have morphed into a tasty comfort food that has the added bonus of being a great source of fiber and protein.
Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
Lima Beans en Casserole (Baked Lima Beans)
2 cups dried lima beans
cold water to cover
hot water to cover
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk (more may be needed)
Rinse the lima beans, put in a bowl and cover with water (water should be about 1-inch about the top of the beans); then cover bowl, and soak overnight. Drain beans, then put in a sauce pan, and cover with hot water. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce to very low heat and cover pan. Gently simmer until the beans are tender and the water absorbed (about 1- 1 1/2 hours).
Preheat oven to 350° F. Remove from heat, and put beans in a large casserole dish (1 1/2 quart). Dot with butter.
In the meantime, put the milk in a bowl, and stir in the salt and pepper. Gently add the milk mixture to partially cover the beans. (Add additional milk if needed). Put in oven and bake until hot and bubbly, and the top is just beginning to brown. Remove from oven and serve.