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Guests for dinner | Warm lima bean salad

Posted Mar 08 2011 2:25pm

I appreciate the challenge people face when they invite a vegan to dinner, and they're not used to cooking without animal products, so I don't flinch (much) when faced with the culinary challenges posed by my guests. Recently, I welcomed a guest who eats no onions, no legumes, no artichoke hearts, no spices, and very few vegetables. I love her so I did my best to accommodate, while still providing food choices the other spice-loving, vegetable devouring guests would enjoy.

The guest of honor requested pasta, so I made a warm pasta dish using quinoa pasta. The dish contained halved grape tomatoes, zucchini spears, sliced mushrooms, kalamata olives, garlic, fresh basil, Italian parsley, toasted walnuts, olive oil, and a touch of coarse sea salt. The veggies were lightly cooked and large enough to be easily picked out if necessary. I had also planned to include browned tofu in a small dice, but completely forgot about it. Along with a big green salad brought by one of the other guests, she had a complete meal that she could eat.

We also had a platter of roasted vegetables with carrots, sweet potatoes, eggplant, turnip, celariac and brussels sprouts — something for everyone — and a warm lima bean salad. I recently read that lima beans are good for your bones, so I disregarded the fact that I've never been fond of limas, and used them in a dish. Now I think that lima beans taste good!

I made the pasta and lima beans the way I often do, by first thinking about how I wanted the final dish to taste, then deciding what ingredients were needed to get the taste I was after. Then I wrote down a list of ingredients so I wouldn't forget them. I did manage to forget the tofu for the pasta, but usually this cooking plan works well for me — except when I want to reproduce a recipe. I have a pretty good idea what was in the lima beans so a recipe of sorts for that dish will appear below.

For dessert we had another golden cake , since I'm still experimenting with pan sizes and frosting ingredients. I used an 8x3-inch straight-sided pan, and it was about 1-inch too high. Now I think an 8x2-inch would be perfect and I'm kind of worried I'm going to own every pan size available before I'm done! Is there a cure for cake pan addiction?

The cake decorations were modest, as usual, but look how pretty the cake looks. At least I think it looks pretty. I used two sweet potatoes in the chocolate-sweet potato frosting — didn't measure but I estimate about 1-1/2 cups of mashed potato. I think I'm addicted to this frosting, originated by the recipe-creator extraordinaire, Ricki Heller. Thank you, Ricki!!! (The next time I make this cake I'm going to add orange zest to the batter.)

Warm lima bean salad (no added oil)
serves 10-12 as a side dish, with leftovers
The amounts in this recipe are flexible and open to interpretation.
  • 1-1/2 cups dried baby lima beans, soaked overnight, drained, rinsed and cooked with fresh water
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons stone ground prepared mustard
  • 2 tablespoons grated palm sugar (or 2 tablespoons dark evaporated cane juice)
  • 2 large carrots, small dice (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, (about two teaspoons)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts in water, drained, rinsed if desired, quartered
  • 1-1/2 cups thinly sliced green onions
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, or to taste
  1. Cook the lima beans in your preferred way. You can simmer them in a large, covered pot until they are tender, or cook them in a pressure cooker. The pot will take about two hours, and the pressure cooker will take five to seven minutes. You could also buy them already cooked, in a can. (two to three cans)
  2. Make the dressing by mixing together the lemon juice, mustard and sugar.
  3. In a large skillet or wok, steam the garlic, carrots, corn, peas and artichokes in about 1/4 cup of water until the carrots are bright orange and a little tender, and the frozen veggies are cooked, about three to five minutes. Add more water if needed but aim to have all the water evaporate.
  4. Turn off the heat and mix in the onions, parsley and dressing.
  5. Add the salt, to taste.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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