Here’s what a butter bean most certainly is not: a conventional lima bean that Southerners have given a more palatable moniker. Butter beans aren’t green; they’re creamy white. They should never be served from a can; look for them sold straight from a cooler in plastic bags along Southern roads for about a three-week period sometime between June and August. And they don’t have any tartness; they’re sweeter and smoother than their sometimes off-putting mass-market lima cousin. Also known as a Dixie bean or sieva, the butter bean has been a go-to hereabouts for succotash and stews since the 1700s. You can boil them until tender and dress simply with lemon zest, sea salt, and olive oil. Or cook them with a big ol’ ham hock and spoon them over hot crusty cornbread for a classic helping of Southern goodness.
~ “S is for Southern,” by the editors of Garden & Gun