Bean in the New Year: Butter Beans with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

With 2011 mere hours away, food preparation often includes black-eyed peas hoping for good luck throughout the year.  I’ve already got some soaking for tomorrow’s meal.

Consider this Butter Beans with Caramelized Onions and Bacon recipe from The Kitchn a practice run.  Granted, butter beans are not peas, and peas are not beans, but they are both classified as legumes, or vegetables that produce pods which split open along a seam to reveal a row of seeds.  Despite growing up on Mom’s lentil soup at least twice a month, I feel I don’t eat beans and peas often enough these days; specifically the dried type, which require overnight soaking, an extra (albeit very easy) step that undoubtedly prevents myself and others from frequent preparation.  I actually have to think ahead?

Well it’s time to face the soak.  Cheap, versatile and packed with protein, fiber and folate, legumes lead Meatless Monday’s fortress of recipe ideas.  Last year, my New Year’s resolution was to create more ‘whole food’ meals, relying less on processed, pre-made products.  This blog is a testament to that success.  This year, I resolve to eat less meat and feature my creations at CC&T.  I hope to balance my love for pulled pork sandwiches and my meat-infatuated husband with my desire to protect the environment, our health, and our wallet.

This recipe actually pays homage to my New Years resolutions of 2010 and 2011.  Caramelized onions are sweet and perfectly paired with a relatively mild butter bean, which is the mainstay of this dish.  Crunchy bacon tops a mound of vegetables to provide just enough salty, savory bite to satisfy a reformed meat-eater.  Fresh, local, whole ingredients, less meat – and I bid farewell to  2010.

Happy New Year!

Florida Butter Beans with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

From The Kitchn’s Florida Butter Beans with Caramlized Onions and Bacon

Please click on the links below for more information on the local farmers who made this recipe possible.

Serves 4


  • 1/2 pound butter beans (aka baby lima beans), soaked overnight
  • 4 slices bacon, diced (see note in Step 2)
  • 2 1/2 medium yellow onions
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. Put the beans and their soaking water in a stockpot and add more cold water if needed to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are beginning to soften, about 1 hour.
  2. In a medium, heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté the bacon until the fat is rendered and the bacon is beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.  (You can omit this step if you choose to make this a vegetarian dish, and use butter or oil to coat the pan to saute the vegetables in Step 3.)
  3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan and reserve. Chop half of an onion and add to the pan over medium heat. Add the celery and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add to the beans, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When the beans are nearly soft, season them with salt.
  4. Meanwhile, cut the remaining 2 whole onions in half, then cut into thin slices. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, pour in 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat, and set over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions and a few pinches of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions wilt. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are medium brown, soft, and caramelized, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add 2 tablespoons water and stir to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the bacon to the caramelized onions and heat gently.
  5. Top each serving of beans with some of the caramelized onions.

One response to “Bean in the New Year: Butter Beans with Caramelized Onions and Bacon

  1. As usual, your photos are exquisite. The idea of topping this with bacon is a good one. I’ve learned that it is a secret weapon in getting my family to eat more vegetables.

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