For my next Cookbook Challenge recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, I made Baked Lima Beans Parmigiana.
Right up front, let me tell you, this recipe has everything in it that I love. I love lima beans (a.k.a. butter beans). I love casseroles. I love anything that is cheesy and a gooey. I love crisp breadcrumbs on the top of almost anything. So this recipe really called my name.
It’s very easy to make, though there are three parts to the preparation. I cut the recipe in half, so here is how I did it:
Part One – The 1/2 recipe calls for 2 cups fresh, thawed frozen or cooked dried lima beans. I chose to use dried beans. So the first step is to cook the dried lima beans. I cooked about 3/4 cup of dried lima beans in my slow cooker with about 3 cups of water. I didn’t season them at all during the cooking process, though I did add a little salt at the end. I ended up with more cooked lima beans than the Baked Lima Beans Parmigiana recipe called for. No worries – I’ll use the leftovers to make soup!
Part Two – Prepare one recipe Fast Tomato Sauce – also found in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. You’ll only need half of this recipe. But it is quite tasty and it’s very handy to have some of this hanging out in your refrigerator for other purposes (pasta, pizza, etc.).
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- One medium onion, finely chopped
- One 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
- Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the onion is softened but not browned. Add the chopped tomatoes. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture thickens and looks like tomato sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.
Part Three – Assemble the casserole. You will need:
- Olive oil for drizzling
- 1/2 recipe of Fast Tomato Sauce
- 2 cups cooked lima beans
- 1/2 cup cubed or grated mozzarella
- 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley for garnish
Grease the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish. I used PAM for this step. Spread the tomato sauce over the bottom of the dish. Spoon the beans of top of the sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top. Use the back of a spoon to press it into the beans. Add a little salt and pepper. Top with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with a little olive oil to lightly moisten the topping.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, uncovered at 400 degrees. The casserole should be bubbly and the top should be browned and crispy. Sprinkle with chopped parsley for garnish. I have and admission to make here – I completely forgot to add the parsley. I had some cleaned and ready to go. In my haste to eat dinner, I forgot all about it!
The Verdict: I ate this as a vegetarian main dish. Husband ate this as a side dish with a piece of grilled chicken. We also had a big, beautiful salad and a fresh demi-baguette.
I thought it was very good. Husband liked it pretty well, too. It was comfort food. The mozzarella was melted and gooey. The topping was crispy and delicious. The beans worked well with the tomato sauce.
Having said all that – I felt like it was missing something. Possibly the parsley, which I forgot! That may have been just the fresh zing that this dish needed. It tasted good. It was satisfying, it just needed a little something extra to make it really memorable.
I’ll try it again with the parsley. But I think it still needs something else. But I’m not sure what.
So my final call: Really good but falls just short of great!