Christmas beans, known in Italy as Pope’s beans, are an heirloom lima bean. They are beautiful raw and when cooked retain some of their interesting swirled color. This very simple recipe highlights their natural nutty flavor and creamy texture with an added fresh crunch of pomegranate seeds. Don't shy away from trying the recipe because of long cooking and resting times; these are unsupervised soaking and simmering of the beans.
yield: 4 servings | prep time: 20 minutes | cooking time: 1 hour | resting time: 6 hours
- 1 cup Christmas beans
- 4 cups water
- ½ white onion, chopped
- 10 black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons flavorful olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fig balsamic vinegar (or plain balsamic)
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- Romaine lettuce leaves
- Rinse the beans well. Place them in a bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside to soak for 8-12 hours.
- Drain the beans and place them in a 3-quart saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat slight then skim and discard the foam that rises to the top. Once no more foam surfaces, add the onion, peppercorns and bay leaf. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until just tender. If the water drops below the surface of the beans, add a bit more as they cook so they don't burn. Add the salt during the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. This way the beans will absorb the salty flavor, but the skins will not toughen.
- Drain the cooked beans. Immediately stir in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add the pomegranate seeds and toss gently so as not to break the beans. Set aside for about 5 minutes for the flavors to marry. Adjust the seasonings adding more salt if needed.
- Place a cleaned leaf of romaine lettuce on individual serving dishes and top with warm beans. Serve immediately.