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Salad of Big Beans, Preserved Lemon, and Red Onion

Salad of Big Beans, Preserved Lemon, and Red Onion

Renée Robinson

Great Heirloom Beans Carry This to the Next Level

Those who’ve been following along with my cooking adventures are aware of my fondness for Rancho Gordo’s dried beans. This variety is one of my favorites. And I love the name – Christmas Lima Beans. They don’t taste like any lima bean I’ve ever had. They’re huge and creamy and almost smokey in flavor. 

Here’s how I cook my beans. I soak them in 8 cups of water and 2 tablespoons kosher salt overnight. Salt brining beans was an eye opener for me when I first encountered the technique several years ago. The beans end up being seasoned all the way through and they cook more evenly. My beans are creamier since I’ve been soaking them in salted water. I’ve gotta mention how I always get such a kick seeing how the beans appearance changes after they’re cooked. It always seems like magic to me. Yeah, folks, it’s the little things. 

Soaking Beans

In the morning I drain them, put them in a pot with 12 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt. I bring them to a hard boil and depending on the size of the bean, I boil them from 5 to 15 minutes. With beans as large as these I boiled them for a full 15 minutes. At that point I put a lid on the pot and cookthem in a 300 degrees oven until they were done. If the beans are small I start checking them for doneness in a half hour. In this case, it took one hour and 20 minutes for them to be fully cooked. I took them out of the oven and let them sit covered until they’d cooled to room temperature.

In the meantime, I whisked together some olive oil, minced preserved lemon peel, a little sherry vinegar, hot pepper flakes, black pepper and black garlic salt. You don’t need to use the black garlic salt, but it adds a nice touch if you happen to have some on hand.

If you’ve never used preserved lemons, I highly recommend buying a jar or making them yourself. A jar lasts a very long time and the peel’s salty briny flavor adds a punch of flavor to many recipes. I always keep them on hand.  

Right before serving, I tossed a couple cups of drained beans with sliced up red onion, chopped flat leaf parsley, and spooned on the dressing. I saved the rest of the beans for another meal later in the week. Most bean salads use white beans or some variation, but I’m nuts about using these big meaty beans in this kind of salad. And plenty of olive oil never hurts anything. 

Salad of Big Beans, Preserved Lemon, and Red Onion

Recipe by Renée Robinson



Christmas Lima Beans and Preserved Lemons Make for a Great Salad

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  • 1 pound Rancho Gordo Christmas lima beans, or any other dried large bean (2 cups cooked beans for this salad and the rest for another meal)

  • Morton kosher salt

  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 whole preserved lemon, rinsed, pulp discarded, and rind minced

  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

  • 1/4 teaspoon black garlic sea salt

  • 1 handful chopped flat leaf parsley


  • Rinse and pick over the dried beans, being sure no foreign debris is present. Add to a large pot or Dutch oven, add 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Stir to dissolve. Put on the lid and let soak overnight. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In the morning, drain the beans, put back into the rinsed pot, add 12 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a hard boil for 15 minutes. Put the lid on the pot, place in the oven and let cook until tender, checking after an hour. Mine took 1 hour and 20 minutes to fully cook. Remove from oven, keeping the lid on, and let cool to room temperature.
  • Whisk together the olive oil, preserved lemon, vinegar, pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt. Taste for seasoning.
  • Spoon the drained beans and sliced red onion onto a serving platter or bowl. Spoon over the dressing. Scatter the parsley on top and don't be afraid to drizzle on extra olive oil if you feel the urge. Enjoy!

2 Responses

  1. This recipe is absolutely delicious! I was searching for a recipe for Christmas lima beans and found several, but this one really caught my attention. I’ve made it twice in the past three days, that’s how good it is. Thank you very much for putting this recipe out there; it’s a keeper for sure!

    1. Thank you so much, Nancy, and you are so very welcome! I just got a new order from Rancho Gordo and I’m gearing up for some new bean recipes. Christmas Limas are one of my favorites. I just got 2 new bags. Lol! I hope you have a Happy Holiday and thanks so much for commenting.

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