Lima bean shakshuka

Lima bean shakshuka just means all mixed-up, and that's about it. Along with hummus, made from chickpeas, and falafel from favas, it is one of the favourite dishes of the people of the Mediterranean.

I'm sure you noticed that all three have legumes as the main ingredient. It is no coincidence that in the five Blue Zone countries, where ten-times as many people live to vibrant old age, that peas and beans are a staple. Fresh from the garden they are a treat.

Lima bean shakshuka.


  • A dozen freshly picked lima pods. Or half a can of butter-beans.
  • 6 peppadews or other chili.
  • Young coriander and rocket leaves; fresh-chives.
  • Olive-oil or butter.
  • 1 egg per person, more if your cholesterol is dangerously low.
  • 2 fresh, very-ripe tomatoes, or a cup of puree.
  • Spices and green-herbs, and perhaps half an onion.

From a can, known as butter beans, they are a distinct second-best, but then you don't have to wait months for the pods to mature.

Today we are going to make our shakshuka with red peppers, cumin and garlic; perhaps half a teaspoon of turmeric, young green-coriander and rocket. Then we'll poach a fresh egg on top.

Personalise the shakshuka for your own family. You could add spinach, onion and even feta-cheese.

And of course we have made it with lima-beans because they are prolific right now in our garden, but you could equally easily use chickpeas or favas. The sky's the limit.

Growing lima beans is eminently worthwhile because you are unlikely to find these beauties in the shops. Like all vegetables they need to be freshly-harvested, brought to the kitchen and prepared immediately.

After just half a day they lose that glistening, fresh-appearance as they begin to dehydrate and the sugars turn to starch. We love them young and tender, straight from the garden.

They are a treat that only gardeners, their close friends and family can enjoy. It does mean strictly limiting television and browsing the social-media; I prefer having fun myself to watching others having a ball.

  1. Pod the lima beans and drop them into boiling-water for about five minutes, depending on how mature they are.
  2. Warm a few tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-pan, and add a teaspoon of cumin seeds that you've just roasted and blended and a couple cloves of garlic.
  3. Meanwhile split the peppadews in half, remove the stalks and, if you don't like it hot, the seeds. Try to keep the white-placenta; see why below.
  4. Drain the lima beans and toss them, the peppadews and tomato into the hot-oil. Allow to simmer for a few minutes until they are tender and juicy.
  5. I like my food moist, so I add half a cup of the water used to cook the beans, but you don't need to.
  6. Make several divots in the mixture and crack an egg into each and allow to simmer until they are just how you enjoy them. I love a soft-yolk, the good wife prefers it cooked more firmly, so I delay adding mine for a minute.
  7. Sprinkle with your finely chopped favourite green-herbs, cover again so they can steam, and bring to the table in the skillet.
  8. I love it on pan-fried toast in a bowl with all the juices.
Lima bean pods.

Simply one lima-bean plant will give you literally hundreds of seeds. They need a very strong trellis to grow on as strong winds will knock them over.

Growing lima beans is not difficult; they just have a very long season but then go on bearing for ages. We have enjoyed shakshuka for at least six weeks, most literally most days, and have at least another month to go, perhaps longer.

Lima bean shakshuka is our standard breakfast in autumn and early-winter; once they are over we change to favas, an even better source of feel-good hormones.

Notice the shine on the beans below; they soon lose that after harvesting, with both flavour and nutrition I suspect decreasing.

Limas do have a small amount of L-dopa by the way; there is far more in fava-beans. It is extremely important for our wellness, being the precursor of a vital neurotransmitter produced in the gut and a nucleus in the brain. 

I'm talking about dopamine of course, also known as the feel-good hormone[1].

Lima beans in pot.

Lima bean shakshuka

Lima bean shakshuka can be cooked in a jiffy using them from a can but it's a poor shadow of the real-deal.

From a can they are called butter beans.

We believe that we should enjoy what's in season, so right now it is limas but in high summer it snap-beans and Scarlet Runners. Chickpeas are hard to grow and reap; I haven't found it worthwhile, so we have them dried.

Shelled lima beans.


We love peppadews because they are piquant like chilies but without the heat. The seeds and particularly the white placenta that holds them are a very rich source of an anti-inflammatory phytonutrient called capsaicin.

"Let thy food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food."

Hippocrates (460 - 370 BC)


Lima beans have quite a lot of carbohydrate, but it is what is known as resistant-starch; much is fibre that is not digested producing sugars but passes through to the colon for the host of friendly bacteria to feed on. So they are not fattening and do enhance the microbiome.

Learn more about net-carbs; it's an important topic.

However the obese who are trying to lose weight must forego even the friendly starches for a period to get their daily carbs below 50 grams; there is no other way. Forget diets because they just don't work; you already know that.

Extra olive oil and avocados provide the extra-fat that gives satiety; and we are not afraid of butter either when enjoying dishes like this lima bean shakshuka regularly. You'll soon find that your cholesterol like mine will be dangerously low!

Butter is back thank goodness; it should never have been banished to Coventry.

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