Monday, February 7, 2011

Slow-baked beans with kale

Until fairly recently, it was my considered opinion that lima beans were little more than unwelcome lumps that lurked in otherwise innocent vegetable soup or, worse, besmirched a nice bowl of sweet corn. I decided this early in life, long before I moved south and became obsessed with butter beans -- the petite, pale green and obviously better-born cousin of the bloated, starchy blobs I routinely refused.

On those nights when my manners earned me a seat at the table by myself, long after dinner was cleared and everyone else was excused to watch the Wonderful World of Disney, I never imagined I'd not only tolerate limas but even seek them out. Their annual return to summer farmer's market tables truly is a thing of joy.

I've surprised myself by contentedly nibbling frozen limas, too -- they've come a long way since Peg Bracken conviced harried housewives of the late '60s that Bird's Eye brand had eliminated the drudgery of preparing fresh vegetables in a modern kitchen.

While I'm now an admitted fan of fresh and frozen limas, it wasn't until this week that I finally cooked a batch of dried beans -- this time under the tutelage of Martha Rose Shulman, who featured them in her engaging New York Times Recipes for Health column. Easy to fix and easy to enjoy, Slow-baked beans with kale lived up to Shulman's luxurious praise.

Unlike my mother, though, I did not make Graham sit alone at the table when he declined to eat them. Who says some things never change?

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