GIFT OF THE DAY: Christmas Lima Beans | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures GIFT OF THE DAY: Christmas Lima Beans | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
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GIFT OF THE DAY: Christmas Lima Beans

Make Christmas Lima Beans part of your
holiday. Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

Phaseolus lunatus (FAZ-ee-oh-lus loo-NAY-tus) isn’t any old bean. It’s the Christmas Lima Bean.

And it makes a great stocking stuffer, party favor or small gift for just about anybody.

A cream-colored bean with dark burgundy markings, the Christmas Lima doesn’t look particularly Christmasy. But this heirloom relative of the common lima bean keeps its beautiful markings even after being cooked—most beautiful beans don’t—making them festive-looking at the table. They also have a chestnut-like flavor that evokes chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

To those who don’t like lima beans: This is a different experience entirely.

The Christmas Lima is also known as the Calico Bean, Chestnut Lima Bean, Fagioli del Papa (in Italy), Giant Florida Pole Bean and Speckled Pole Bean. But similar to the marketing makeover done to the Patagonian toothfish, (rechristened Chilean sea bass), Jonathan Stewart Liebowitz (so much more cool as Jon Stewart) and so many others, Christmas Lima Bean sounds that much more interesting and delicious.


  • The flavor is big and bold, so you can make a curry or use a chile sauce.
  • Add them to rice, quinoa and other grain salads; to soups, stews and casseroles; and to add flavor and protein to stuffings.
  • Enjoy them with a drizzle of olive oil, grated Parmesan or hard goat cheese and a few herbs.
  • They are terrific in a wild mushroom ragout with garlic.


Steve Sando, proprietor of Rancho Gordo beans, says that his Christmas Lima Beans in a Gorgonzola Sauce was his best recipe ever. The red and white bean in white Gorgonzola sauce topped with your favorite green herbs is Christmas food, indeed.


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