A coworker originally from New York inquired about making Southern-style lima beans by themselves, and also in favorite combinations with other vegetables or meat.

To clarify, she is talking about the green shell beans known in the South as butterbeans and as “sivvy” beans to many Lowcountry natives.

There are few dishes more delicious than fresh butterbeans over rice. Simple, satisfying, and can be seasoned to taste with hot sauce, as I like to do. Good with or without meat.

If one does add meat, it’s a way to economize, because you don’t need a lot of it, just enough to add taste and provide for a few bites per person.

Butterbeans, however, do have a great affinity for ham and bacon, and so we’ll start a basic preparation:

‘Straight From the Garden’ Butterbeans

Makes 4 servings


2 cups water

1 (6-inch) ham hock

3 cups fresh butter or lima beans

1/4 teaspoon black pepper


In a large saucepan, combine the water and ham hock. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes. Add the beans and pepper. Return to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer 45 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Serve warm.

Adapted from “The Complete Southern Cookbook” by Tammy Algood (Running Press, 2010)

Sylvia Strickland of Goose Creek uses dried beans and explains how:

“I cook this about once a month. When I was growing up in a small town here in S.C., my mom had 11 children to cook for, and lima beans was the staple. (Seven of her own children and four were my cousins that were raised with us.) It took me awhile to get back to eating lima beans because we had them every night for supper with rice.

“I take a half bag of dry lima beans and either a ham bone or ham hock to season them with. I rinse the beans and place them in a bowl of water the night before, making sure they are more than covered with water because they swell up a lot.

“If I am using a ham hock, the next morning I will boil this ham hock for about 30 minutes and then I will put it in the slow cooker with liquid, pour the beans and water that were soaked and add salt to season. Put on low and let them cook all day. Cook a pot of rice and you have a whole meal. My husband loves the large lima beans. I now love these beans again.

“When I cook a ham, I make sure as I am stripping the bone down that I save enough with it to season the lima beans and also black-eye peas.

“Some people I know put a pinch of baking soda in theirs, but I do not. I use a half bag because that is enough for just two people. You can use the whole bag and freeze what you do not eat and heat it up for another meal when you are in the mood for lima beans.”

Here are a few more ideas from various sources:

Summer Succotash

Yield: 6 servings


21/2 cups fresh lima beans

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup thinly sliced onions

2 cups fresh corn, cut from the cob

1 garlic clove, minced

12 ounces ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled


Cook the beans in boiling salted water approximately 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water. After 4 minutes, drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onions. Cook 5 minutes and stir in the lima beans, corn and garlic. Cook 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, basil, thyme, hot sauce and whipping cream. Cook until the mixture is heated through. Season with the salt and pepper. Top with the crumbled bacon and serve.

Adapted from “The Complete Southern Cookbook” by Tammy Algood (Running Press, 2010)

We also heard from Mary Larry of Charleston, a faithful ambassador for the “Popular Greek Recipes.” It’s a homegrown cookbook from the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in downtown Charleston, with numerous printings over the years.

Mary says this recipe from the book is a delightful one. “I like preparing this a day ahead and placing the dish in the refrigerator — the ingredients all blend together. Great for a side dish.”

You’ll note that the recipe title refers to “fava” beans while the ingredients call for large limas; they are different but either one will do.

Artichokes and Fava Beans

Yields 5 serivngs


1/2 cup sliced onions

Chopped fresh dill and parsley

1 teaspoon salt

Pepper to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup water

1 (15-ounce) can large lima beans, drained

1 (14-ounce) can artichokes, drained and quartered

Juice of 1 lemon


Saute onions, dill, parsley, salt and pepper in oil until onions are soft. Add water and bring to a boil. Add beans to onion mixture. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add artichokes and lemon juice. Cook for 5 minutes longer.

Shell Bean, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Smoked Mozzarella Salad

Makes 8 servings

“This is a great make-ahead salad that travels well, so it’s lovely for picnics or brown bag lunches ... Crisp crostini topped with the olive relish known as tapenade make a nice accompaniment.”

Sheri Castle, author of “The New Southern Garden Cookbook” (University of North Carolina Press, 2011)


6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and cut into thin strips

1 fennel bulb, cut into thin strips or paper-thin slices

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons dried oregano

3 cups cooked shell beans, drained

1/2 cup chopped, oil-packed, sundried tomatoes

8 ounces smoked mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 tablespoons capers, drained

Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

4 cups lightly packed baby arugula or spinach

Toasted baguette slices topped with olive tapenade, for serving


Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until softened and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Whisk together the vinegar, garlic, mustard, and oregano and the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil in a large bowl.

Stir in the beans, tomatoes, mozzarella, and capers. Stir in the onion and fennel. Season with salt and pepper.

Just before serving, stir in the arugula. Serve with tapenade crostini on the side.

Make-ahead note: The salad can be made up to 2 days ahead. Do not stir in the fresh greens until just before serving.

Who’s got the recipe?

Maria Link of Ridgeville fondly recalls the “best Greek potatoes” served at the former North Towne restaurant in North Charleston and would love to have the recipe. The potatoes included a touch of tomatoes.

Calling all shrimp cooks: A West Ashley reader is looking for a variety of grilled shrimp dishes.

Reach Features Editor Teresa Taylor at food@postandcourier.com or 937-4886.