Big Beans Baby: Lima Beans with Parsley Pesto Dressing

Lima Bean Salad~ A Healthy HungerBeans are a fantastic way to add fiber and protein into your diet for mere pennies- and this Lima Bean Salad couldn’t be easier to make. 

Some folks shy away from beans due to their notorious reputation of <ahem> indigestibility. Gas, bloating and some indigestion are some common affects after eating beans. To combat these problems there are several things you may do. Though they take some time the end result is not only a “toot-less” bean, but a more flavorful one as well.

The fact that you might have problems with beans is no fault of your own. Beans contain oligosaccharides, a complex sugar, for which our gut does not have the enzyme to digest. As a result, the long retention time in the gut leads to fermentation, and the by product of that is gas.lima beans soaked~A Healthy Hunger

Folks that consume a regular high fiber diet seem to have less of an issue, perhaps due to less “hang” time in the gut. It’s been said that the more often you eat beans, the less problem you might have- this would be the reason.

However there are other options in the preparation process that can help. Long soaking with frequent water changes can help to break down the oligosaccharides in the beans that we have trouble digesting. Soaking beans for over 24 and up to 72 hours, with several water changes a day, can make a big difference.

A long slow cooking time is also beneficial. The options for this are low slow simmering on a stove top, using a slow cooker, or even baking them in a low oven. Cooking beans for many hours gives them time to break down those hard to digest fibers and sugars.

Another method is to soak and cook the beans with a piece of Kombu seaweed. Kombu can be purchased dried and can be found in most health food stores. The seaweed naturally contains the enzyme needed to break down the oligosaccharides. 

Soaking lima beans

All this soaking and slow cooking might be a greater time investment than you were planning on. Personally I typically soak my beans for two days, changing water when I think of it, and then I cook mine in a pressure cooker. I have found this to also be helpful in making the beans more digestible, and the cooking time is minutes, not hours. 

Whichever way you decide to prepare your beans I highly recommend making a fairly large batch. Cooked beans will keep in the fridge for several days, or you can portion them out and freeze them for near future use.

I like to make a batch of simple marinated beans such as these and then toss them into a salad, or add them as a side to any lunch or dinner dish.

Lima Beans with Parsley Pesto Dressing

Number of servings: 6

Per Serving 343 calories

Fat 10 g

Carbs 49 g

Protein 17 g



  • 1 pound dried lima beans
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5-6 peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the pesto
  • 1 cup chopped parsley leaves and stems
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 radishes, thinly sliced


  1. Place the beans into a large container and cover with twice as much water. Allow to rest for several hours then drain, rinse and cover with water again. Repeat this process over the next 24-72 hours, changing the water about 3 times a day.
  2. When ready to cook, drain and rinse the beans one more time, place in the pot and cover with 2" of water. Add bay leaves, peppercorns and salt. Simmer over low heat until the beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water if necessary.
  3. Pressure cooker method: After the draining add the beans, bay leaves, peppercorns and water to cover 2" in the pot, along with 2 tablespoons of canola oil. This will help keep the foam down during the cooking process.
  4. Set the pressure cooker on high and cook for 10 minutes, than cook using the quick release method.
  5. Test for doneness, if necessary add more cooking time.
  6. After the beans have been cooked, drain and remove leaves and peppercorns- then gently pour beans into a large bowl.
  7. Make the parsley pesto:
  8. In a blender add the parsley leaves and stems, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.
  9. Blend into a rough paste.
  10. While the beans are still warm but not hot, toss with the pesto.
  11. When ready to serve garnish with radish slices.


The beans may be made in advance and dressed when ready, or prepared salad will keep several days in the refrigerator. A quick toss to re-coat the beans with dressing is best before serving.