Butter Beans with Butter, Mint, and Lime


By Matt Lee and Ted Lee
From The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen

Along with muscadine grapes, butter beans are among the farmer’s market treasures of late summer in Charleston—reason to wake up with gusto to another day of stultifying heat and oxford-soaking humidity. We do all kinds of things with butter beans: we make a hummus-like spread for the cocktail hour, we simmer them with seasoning meats of all sorts, and we compose marinated salads aplenty. But this may be our most simple treatment yet, and one of the most satisfying.

Butter beans come in many varieties, and at stands like Joseph Fields Farm at the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Marion Square, shelled beans are kept in large tailgating coolers. Some beans are green with purple speckles, some are reddish brown, a few are ivory colored, and there’s a shade of green besides. For this simple side dish, we like to use the small green ones (though you may use frozen baby lima beans if butter beans aren’t in season).

Kosher salt
6 cups fresh shelled butter beans or frozen baby lima beans
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Juice of 2 large limes
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon grated lime zest, for garnish

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil over high heat. Add the butter beans and cook until tender, 9 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the beans. Drain in a colander, and shake the colander several times to shed as much water from the beans as possible.

2. Put the butter in a large serving bowl, and pour the warm butter beans on top. Toss the beans with the butter until all the butter is melted. Add the lime juice and toss again to distribute. Fold in the mint, season with salt and black pepper, and scatter lime zest over the top. Serve immediately.

Serves 8.