Make it Naked

Large Lima Beans in Tomato Sauce

I read somewhere that you have to taste something seven times before you can truly decide if you like it or not. I’m not sure if this is true or why seven is the magic number, but I do believe food deserves more than one taste before you completely write it off never to be tried again. Jon, on the other hand, disagrees. If you don’t like it after the first bite, why would you eat it six more times? He’s always so logical.

This small difference of opinion is an on going “debate” in our house.

Just try it.

I already did. I don’t like it.

But you should taste it again.

Why, I don’t like it?

No, don’t smell it. Taste it.

I already did. I don’t like it.

When I make something I want everyone to think it’s the best thing they have ever tasted. I want to see dance moves and hear shouting. I want uncontrollable “mmmm”s blurted out before they’re even done chewing. It’s ok, lie to me – tell me it’s better than your mother’s.

I realize how ridiculous this is, but I still wish it were true. That’s part of the reason I enjoy cooking so much. I love to see the happiness my food brings to those eating it. But I’ve learned that not everyone has the same tastes I do. Particularly Jon. There are  so many foods that I love and he does not like at all. I know, I still married him. But I haven’t lost hope. My logic is if I keep making dishes with ingredients he dislikes, he’ll come around to them, you know, like after the seventh try.

So in my latest attempt, I made this dish which includes beans, olives and parsley – all things on his “dislike” list. I’m so clever – combine three ingredients he doesn’t eat to make one dish he’ll love. Makes perfect sense. Or not. He won’t even try it.

I’m not sure what I was thinking assuming he’d at least take one bite, never mind seven. Maybe I was thinking these beans are so amazing how could anyone dislike them? Firm, yet amazingly creamy and comforting in their tomato base. Maybe I was thinking olives and dill are my new favorite combination and when mixed into these wonderful beans create something that no taste bud could ever reject. Something worth dancing and shouting about.

I’m actually not upset that he won’t try this. Not at all. Because I know if he’d try it, he just might like it. And if he liked it, that means I’d have to share.

Large Lima Beans in Tomato Sauce (recipe adapted from Whole Foods salad bar) makes about 10 heaping 1/2 cup servings


16oz large lima beans
1 shallot, diced
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
28oz can crushed tomatoes (save the can to add water for thinning the sauce)
Crushed red pepper to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
5-7oz of pitted kalamata olives, chopped
Fresh dill, chopped (at least 1/4 cup or more to taste)
Fresh parsley, chopped (a few tablespoons or more to taste)


  1. Soak the beans overnight or according to package directions.
  2. In a dutch oven (or large pan) heat the shallot in the oil until tender. Add the soaked beans and stir to coat.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes. Fill the emptied can with water and add to the pan. Stir. The mixture will be soupy. Add crushed red pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for about 30 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. The sauce should start to thicken.
  4. Add the olives and most of the dill, setting aside a little to add right before serving. Stir. Let the beans simmer and sauce thicken for about another hour on med-low heat. You may need to add more water as the sauce thickens depending on your desired consistency and tenderness of the beans.
  5. When the beans reach desired tenderness, remove from heat. Stir in the rest of the dill and the parsley. Serve.


  1. Large lima beans are not the same as the green lima beans you grew in the first grade. Totally different. You should find large limas with the dried beans at your local grocer. If you can’t find them, I think most dried white beans would work.
  2. I keep a jar of tomato paste on hand in case I add too much water and the beans are done before the sauce thickens. I didn’t have to use it this time.
  3. Note that the beans soak over night and then take about 1.5 hours to cook. Although very simple, this recipe does require some planning ahead.
  4. This freezes very well. I made the entire pound of beans, saved some for lunches and dinner and froze the rest in small containers for an easy re-heatable meal or side.
  5. I enjoy this warm, but it is served slightly chilled on the Whole Foods salad bar and is still delightful.

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Posted on February 26, 2011

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