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Picnic Limas

30 minutes prep
45 minutes active cooking (plus 90 minutes for bean cooking)
1 hour + 15 minutes total

Makes 6 - 8 servings

Baked beans have always been my favorite picnic food.

While they’re usually served hot, for a picnic the baked beans come from the refrigerator (or a can, and I love those, too) but lose their chill by the time the food gets put out to eat. And it’s those not-too-cold but unheated beans I really love.

Belgian food scientists discovered that our ability to taste drops when food gets hotter than our body temperature, and that we’re best able to enjoy the salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami flavors in the relatively balmy zone from about 68 to 86°F. Or what we like to call room temperature.

And while it’s true that food safety specialists call the range between 40 and 140°F the danger zone, they also allow food to sit out for a couple of hours. Call it the narrow window of deliciousness, but that’s where I think baked beans taste the best.

What you'll need


For the shopping list


medium red onions, chopped


stalks celery, about 1 cup chopped


red bell pepper

1/2 cup of

chopped fresh mint leaves

From our shop

$6 - New Orleans - Louisiana

(about 1/2lb dry beans)

$16 - Provence - France

Chestnut Honey

$13 - Napa - California

Gravenstein Apple Cider Vinegar

$18 - Sicily - Italy

Madre Terra

$9 - Gossen Island - Norway

Kosher Sea Salt


From the kitchen


Large sauce pan + lid


Heavy Skillet


Chef Knife


Cutting Board




Large Mixing Bowl

Measuring Cups

Measuring Spoons

Take these sweet and tangy baby lima beans on your next picnic, even if it’s inside at your kitchen table.

What you'll have to do

Step 1

In a large pot add about 5 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt to the dried baby lima beans, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 90 minutes. Add water to keep the beans covered if needed.

Step 2

While the beans are cooking, make the pickled onion and celery so they can sit for awhile. Combine one chopped onion and the celery in a heatproof bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Let them sit for about 5 minutes, then drain. Mix 2 tablespoons of honey and a teaspoon of salt with 1/2 cup of vinegar and add to the onion-celery mix. (If your beans are already cooked, let these sit for at least 15 minutes).

Step 3

Heat a heavy skillet on medium heat to cook the other red onion with a pinch of salt in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is deeply caramelized, at least 30 minutes. Add a little water if the onion looks like it’s burning but isn’t completely browned.

Step 4

Roast the red bell pepper. If you have a gas range you can put the pepper directly on a lit burner and use tongs to turn it until the skin is mostly blackened. Or roast it whole in a 350°F oven until the skin is beginning to darken, about 30 minutes. Let cool, pull out the stem and seed core, and peel off as much of the outer skin as possible (it’s fine to leave some if it doesn’t come off easily). Chop into roughly 1/2 inch pieces. Save as much of the liquid from the pan as possible; a few seeds are okay, too.

Step 5

Use a large bowl to combine the cooked lima beans, the caramelized onion (and any oil from cooking them), and the roasted red pepper, along with any of its cooking liquid. Drain and reserve about half of the vinegar-honey mix (save it for salads) from the pickled onion and celery, then add the vegetables. Add the chopped mint, mix well, taste, and add salt if needed. Serve at room temperature.

Shop this recipe


Baby Lima Beans

Camellia BrandNew Orleans - Louisiana
Chestnut Honey

Chestnut Honey

Augier & FilsProvence - France
Gravenstein Apple Cider Vinegar

Gravenstein Apple Cider Vinegar

KatzNapa - California
Madre Terra
Olive Oil

Madre Terra

Madre TerraSicily - Italy
Kosher Sea Salt
Salt, Herbs, & Spices

Kosher Sea Salt

North Sea Salt WorksGossen Island - Norway

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