This recipe for Mashed Lima Bean “Potatoes” smothered in an onion gravy was an accidental discovery that has gone on to largely — and healthily — replace mashed potatoes in our spud-loving home. And as you have guessed by now, there really are no potatoes in this recipe.
I have nothing against potatoes — I love ’em, and I welcome them into my kitchen and my tummy in moderation. But substituting the potatoes with lima beans in this dish makes it healthier, because lima beans have much more to offer by way of nutrition. For one, they are lower on carbs, and for another, they are protein and fiber superstars. Just one cup of cooked lima beans packs in 13 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber. There is a pound of lima beans in this recipe, which cooks up to about 6-8 cups, so you do the math.
I was cooking up lima beans for another recipe and had to leave the kitchen for an emergency. By the time I could return to the stove, the lima beans had overcooked. and when I picked up a bean, it crumbled in my fingers. As I chewed on it, wondering if my recipe was doomed, I kept thinking just how much like potatoes these overcooked lima beans were, both in flavor and texture, not to mention their look.
So I drained the lima beans, blended them thoroughly with some roasted garlic and herbs, and then took things a step further and whipped them, as you would if you were making mashed and whipped potatoes. Whipping the beans gives them an airy, light texture, although if you don’t want to add this extra step, that’s fine too.
Finally, to top it all off, I made a quick, onion-y gravy with some cashew cream. It was heaven, poured over the mashed lima bean potatoes, and we gobbled it down by spoonfuls.
There are many uses for this mash, besides just being a pretty and delicious side dish. You can smush it on some toast or bruschetta bread for a snack, or use it as a dip. Your tummy will thank you for it.
Mashed Lima Bean 'Potatoes' with Onion Gravy
- 1 pound dry big lima beans about 2 cups dry
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp fresh rosemary or sage chopped. If using dry herbs, cut down to 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp.
- 1 head garlic
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling on the garlic
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp fried onions
- Mashed lima bean "potatoes":
- Prepare the garlic for roasting by removing all loose papery skin and slicing off the top of the bulb to expose the top of the cloves. Drizzle with some olive oil to cover the bulb and soak the exposed tops.
- Wrap in aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 45 minutes or until the cloves are butter-soft. You can test this by piercing the garlic bulb with a fork.
- Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze out the cloves.
- Soak the lima beans in plenty of water for one hour. They will expand quite a bit, so make sure you use a large container.
- Drain out any remaining water and place the lima beans in a large pot with three inches of water to cover.
- Bring the water to a boil, cover, and let the beans cook 30 minutes or until they are really soft and squish easily when pressed between two fingers.
- Drain out all the water using a colander.
- Place the beans in a food processor with the roasted garlic, rosemary or sage, ground black pepper and salt, and olive oil and, in batches if necessary, process until you have a smooth puree.
- You can check the salt and eat the "potatoes" as they are at this point, or you can whip them to improve their texture even more.
- To do this, place the lima bean "potatoes" in a stand mixer with the lemon zest and, using the whisk attachment, whisk for two minutes over medium-low speed until the bean "potatoes" are airy and light. Check for salt before serving.
- Onion gravy:
- Soak the cashews in water to cover for half an hour.
- Drain the cashews and then blend with 1 1/2 cups of water until you have a very smooth milk. You can skip this step by using store-bought cashew milk.
- Heat 1 tsp of oil and add the flour to it. Cook, stirring continuously, until the flour begins to turn a light brown.
- Add the onion powder, stir, and then whisk in the cashew milk, stirring constantly with the whisk to break up any lumps of flour.
- Add the herbs, tamari and ground black pepper to taste. Add more salt if needed. Add the fried onions.
- Let the gravy thicken, which it should do within a couple of minutes.
- Pour over the mashed lima bean "potatoes" and serve.
More delicious lima bean recipes to try: