Butter Bean Spring

Butter Bean Spring Recipe

By Natalie R. Toney, M.F.A., C.H. ,
Healthy Planet Food Editor 

As I was tossing around recipe ideas for April, particularly those that would be equally suitable for cold and blustery, rainy weather, as well as during the warm, balmy, humid days, a friend arrived with empty toilet paper rolls for my rescue gerbil, “Butterbean” (gerbils are the best little recyclers ever!). After a few minutes of visiting, with me showing the newest photos of him, and our continued disbelief that anyone could ever leave such a precious being alone in a cage at a park, it came to me-Butter Beans for Spring! Even though it seemed a fitting name for my most recent gerbil, it was admittedly a legume I had limited experience with, much due to my own avoidance. Childhood memories of boring, bland, big ivory butter beans, or gigantic, green “lima beans” (basically the same, except starchier, earthier, not as versatile), left me less than enthused to incorporate them into my everyday diet. However, given their chameleon-esqe ability to blend with, take on, and enhance the flavors of most any dish, I wish I had given them more of a chance before now. Their size, and texture, allow for numerous preparation options to boil, braise, bake, roast, fry, mash, slow cook, or chill for endless meal possibilities. Butterbeans pair well with a large quantity of vegetables (many fruits, too), grains, meats, and can be utilized for several desserts. Their mild flavor can be complemented by any myriad and combination of fresh or dried herbs, spices, sauces, dressings, flavored vinegars, and oils. While not AIP, the canned variety are FODMAP friendly, as well as a low-calorie source of protein, fiber, folate, potassium, manganese, and iron. The primavera recipe I’ve included can be modified to include any favorite vegetables, proteins, or grains, along with choice of seasonings, and enjoyed hot or cold. Whether dressed with a just bit of broth, lemon, oil, and fresh basil, made into a quick spread for toast, or baked into a multi-veggie curry casserole, butter beans will surely come to the rescue for any occasion, day or night, rain or shine!

Tips: If using can butter beans, rinse thoroughly to remove excess salt, or buy unsalted. Frozen and jarred are also available which are often low, to no sodium. Dry beans will take several hours to cook and can be done without pre-soaking (which often leads to a softer, mushy result, though is helpful when recipes call for that consistency). However, they will cook more quickly, and also be easier to digest if soaked prior. Do not let any type of legumes sit in a bag longer than a year as they will likely remain tough after cooking. Roast or sauté any vegetables first, when baking together in a dish.

Butter Bean Primavera Ingredients:

  • 15-16 oz. Butter beans(drained)
  • 1 1/2 C. Cherry or grape tomatoes 
  • 2 C. Spinach, Kale, or greens
  • 1 C. Chopped zucchini, squash, broccoli, or any additional vegetables (adjust meas. per veggie, I recommend about a 1/2 C.)
  • 1/2-1 C. Vegetable broth, or stock (amount depends on ingredients and desired consistency)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Lemon juice (adjust for taste, and ingredients)
  • 2-3Tbsp. Olive, or Avocado oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic (+/- to taste)
  • 1 1/2 teas. Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teas. White pepper 
  • 1/2-1 teas. each Oregano, Rosemary, Majorum, Parsley, ( 2 teas .Italian or Greek seasoning)
  • Fresh Basil, Parsley, Thyme, or any other herbs (to add after cooking, or extra while cooking)
  • Pesto(opt.)
  • Shaved Reggiano, Pecorino, Grana Padano, and/or Asiago (opt.)


Heat oil in a large pan, or skillet, on medium. Add garlic and cook a couple of minutes until slightly golden (if cooking any sort of green onion, or shallot, also do so now). Add zucchini, broccoli, or any other chopped vegetables, and cook until they begin to get tender. Gently stir in tomatoes, mushrooms, and/or any softer vegetable, and cook about 1-1 1/2 min., watching for a bit of change in color and consistency. Slowly pour in the desired amount of stock, along with pre-cooked butter beans, spinach, or any leafy greens, herbs and seasonings. Stir, and simmer on low 10-15 min. (or longer for much softer veggies, and beans. They will begin to soak up broth, add more if necessary). Remove from heat, transfer to serving bowls. Dollop with pesto, or sprinkle with fresh herbs, and shaved cheese for flair. Can be refrigerated for five days. Yields approx.2-4 servings.