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Tomato, Olive & Lima Bean Stew

This is a great recipe that I first used over 20 years ago! My Tomato, Olive & Lima Bean Stew is a good source of fibre and starch from the legumes, and also those lovely polyphenols from the olives and extra virgin olive oil, which your beneficial gut flora will enjoy eating too :-). 

It is great on its own for a tasty vegan dinner, or sometimes I serve it with falafel, or grilled/pan-fried fish or free-range chicken. It’s pretty quick to put together if you have all the ingredients at home. 

Lima beans are often called butter beans and can be used interchangeably. Choose organic if you can and find a can without BPA in the lining.

Tomato, Olive & Lima Bean Stew


  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus a bit extra from drizzling over at the end)
  • 1 small/medium purple/red onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 large garlic cloves (crushed) – you can add another clove if you’re a garlic fiend!
  • 3cm fresh root ginger (peeled, chopped/grated – i use a bamboo ginger grater)
  • ¾-1 tsp ras el hanout (Moroccan spice blend)
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 x 400g cans lima/butter beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 16-20 cherry tomatoes (great for using up the last of the summer tomatoes)
  • pinch of sugar (optional)
  • ⅓-½ cup black/purple pitted fleshy olives e.g. kalamata olives
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground smoked paprika
  • 1 small bunch of continental/flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste 


  1. Drain the lima/butter beans and rinse well with water and put to one side.
  2. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a heavy based pan or stovetop casserole dish. 
  3. Add the onion, crushed garlic, and grated ginger to the pan.
  4. Stir regularly, cooking for about 10-15 minutes, or until everything has softened but not gone brown. 
  5. Stirring gently, add the saffron threads and then the cherry tomatoes (with an optional pinch of sugar to balance the acidity).
  6. Watch the tomatoes, and as they start to soften, stir in the lima beans. 
  7. When it has all heated through add the olives, ground cinnamon and paprika, stirring gently to blend.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper
  9. Sprinkle over the chopped flat parsley and add an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Serves 4

Originally adapted from a recipe I first saw 20 years ago in the Modern Moroccan Cookbook (Basan)

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