Giant Lima Beans with Stewed Tomatoes and Oregano Pesto


Tangy feta cheese, a bright herbal pesto and a crisp bread crumb topping all elevate this tomato-bean stew. It's sensational made with meaty Rancho Gordo giant limas from Peru, silky gigantes or large limas from the grocery store. Slideshow:  More Delicious Bean Recipes 

Giant Lima Beans with Stewed Tomatoes and Oregano Pesto
Photo: © Cedric Angeles
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 40 mins


Lima Beans

  • 3 cups dried giant lima beans or gigantes, rinsed and picked over, then soaked for 4 hours and drained

  • Kosher salt

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, finely diced

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • One 16-ounce can whole tomatoes—juices reserved, tomatoes coarsely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons chopped oregano

  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese (6 1/2 ounces), for sprinkling

  • 2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs


  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons chopped oregano

  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

  • 1 small garlic clove, minced

  • Kosher salt


  1. In a large saucepan, cover the lima beans with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the limas are just tender but still al dente, about 2 1/2 hours; add water as needed to keep the limas covered by 2 inches. Season the limas with salt and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Drain the limas, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid.

  2. In a medium saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderately low heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, oregano and the reserved bean cooking liquid and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 1 hour. Season the tomato sauce with salt.

  3. In a mini food processor, combine the olive oil with the oregano, parsley and garlic and pulse to a coarse puree. Season the oregano pesto with salt.

  4. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, mix the limas with the tomato sauce and sprinkle the feta on top. Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 40 minutes, until the beans are bubbling and the cheese is browned. Remove the baking dish from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until toasted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt.

  6. Top the beans with the bread crumbs, dollop with the oregano pesto and serve.

Make Ahead

The cooked limas, tomato sauce and pesto can be refrigerated separately overnight. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Suggested Pairing

This crisp-topped lima bean stew tastes like a dish one might eat in a country restaurant in Greece, and, unsurprisingly, it will pair well with a Greek white wine. Moschofilero, a local white variety, is known for its spicy, perfumed character.

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