Warm Butter Bean Salad with Roasted Bell Peppers
Smoky roasted peppers provide a bright contrast to the delicate, buttery flavor of big lima beans in this dish. The pili pili oil adds the subtlest kick—you’ll notice it, but it doesn’t overpower. Peppery arugula adds freshness, and a squeeze of lemon brightens everything. I created this recipe for a collaboration with Williams-Sonoma in 2019. My family had a Father’s Day cookout with some friends (hi, Maisha, David, and Naya) that was shot by my buddy photographer Erin Scott, and Williams-Sonoma featured the images in their catalog, on their blog, and across their social media platforms. That was a meaningful partnership, since Father’s Day is my favorite holiday of the year. While I’m appreciative of gifts, Father’s Day is about expressing gratitude to my family for the love they show me every single day. When I was working on this book, I spent more than a year testing recipes and writing almost every weekend (and a lot of holidays). My wife and daughters supported me wholeheartedly throughout that process. On Father’s Day weekend, I celebrate them for the privilege of being a husband and Baba.
Servings: 4 people
- 1 pound dried large white lima beans, soaked in water and 3 tablespoons kosher salt overnight
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large yellow onion, half diced, half left intact
- 5 cloves garlic, 3 cut in half, 2 minced
- 1 dried red chile
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 2 large red bell peppers
- 2 large yellow bell peppers
- 2 large orange bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Pili Pili Oil (recipe below)
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 8 ounces baby arugula, (about 12 loosely packed cups), washed and spun dry
- 1 lemon, halved for garnish
- Flaky sea salt for finishing
For the Pili Pilo Oil
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 springs rosemary
- 9 small fresh bird’s-eye or Thai chiles
- 1 cup olive oil
Drain the beans, put them into a large saucepan, and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Skim off any foam and decrease the heat to medium-low. Add the bay leaf, onion half, halved garlic cloves, and dried chile. Partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until just tender, adding water as needed to keep the beans covered, 1 to 11/2 hours (the cooking time will greatly depend on the freshness of the beans). Once the beans are just tender, add 1 teaspoon of the salt and simmer for 10 more minutes. Drain the beans. Remove the bay leaf, onion, garlic, and chile and discard them. Set the beans aside.
While the beans are cooking, roast the bell peppers using one of the methods below. Seed and thinly slice the bell peppers. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, warm the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and just starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until it smells fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lima beans, bell peppers, and pili pili oil to the pan. Raise the heat to high and cook for 1 minute, gently stirring to combine and warm the ingredients through. Turn off the heat and season aggressively with white pepper. Taste and season with salt. Divide the lima bean mixture evenly among four plates.
Add the arugula and 2 tablespoons water to the same pan. Set the pan over low heat, cover, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the arugula wilts.
Place a handful of arugula over each serving, then drizzle with more pili pili oil and a squeeze of lemon. Finish with a sprinkle of flaky salt and serve.
For the Roasted Peppers
There are a few methods for roasting peppers. I prefer placing them directly over a burner on a gas stove and turning them with tongs until the skin is blackened and blistered all over. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of first learning this procedure in culinary school, but the process is fulfilling. If you have an electric stove, you’ll need to use the broiler or grill to achieve the same outcome—just be sure to turn them occasionally to char the skin on all sides. After they are properly charred, the peppers are placed in a heatproof container and covered for 15 minutes, until they have cooled and their skins have loosened up. Peel off the charred skin (avoiding washing the peppers or you will lose some of the flavor), then cut off the stem end, remove the core and seeds, and cut the flesh of the peppers into strips or as directed in the recipe. If you’re not using the roasted peppers immediately after prepping them, simply place them in a bowl, toss with olive oil, and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Pili Pili Oil
In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the olive oil starts to sizzle and the paprika has completely dissolved. Immediately remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Transfer all the ingredients to a small jar or bottle, seal, and refrigerate for a few days before using. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.