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Arroz’d fava (rice with lima beans) is a staple dish in Cape Verdean cuisine. This simple rice recipe is made from long-grain white rice and lima beans cooked with bouillon, bay leaves, salt and pepper. This simple yet perfectly seasoned side dish goes well with any main course, and requires only one-pot and less than 30 minutes!
Arroz’d fava is my grandmother’s most simple version of arroz branco (white rice). I don’t think I can recall one instance where she served white rice without seasoning or some type of bean or pea. While I love a good pot of plain white rice, Mama’s just not that basic. If you didn’t like lima beans, you better have learned to pick them out!
Fava beans vs. lima beans:
Arroz’d fava is Criolu for “rice with fava beans“. When Cape Verdeans say fava in the U.S., they’re usually referring to lima beans. I know it’s tricky, but my guess is that lima beans more closely resemble the ‘fava’ beans grown in Cape Verde and not the actual fava beans that are sold in the U.S.
Beans that are labeled ‘fava beans’ in the U.S. are used a lot in Portuguese cooking. These marked ‘fava beans’ are not what you want to use for this dish, though! Portuguese fava beans are larger and darker with a thicker shell than limas. You’ll want to use either fordhook limas or baby limas for this version of arroz’d fava.
What lima beans to use for Arroz’d Fava:
To make this whole lima bean/fava bean thing even more complicated, there are many varieties of lima beans! Frozen fordhook lima beans are what you want for this recipe but if you can’t find fordhook, baby lima beans can also be used.
Normally, my family uses dried beans when we cook Cape Verdean food. For this recipe though, my grandmother always uses frozen lima beans. She’s not usually one to take shortcuts, but frozen lima beans that are green are just easier to find in in stores. Using frozen rather than dried also shortens the cooking time, which I’m not mad at!
You may be wondering if you can used canned baby lima beans in place of the frozen. Go right head! I haven’t used canned lima beans to make arroz’d fava, but you certainly can. Just follow the recipe instructions exactly how they are.
Ingredients: Cape Verdean-Style Rice with Lima Beans
- Long grain white rice: you can use parboiled long-grain white rice or jasmine rice.
- Frozen fordhook lima beans: if you can’t find fordhook limas, you can use baby limas. Canned beans work too.
- Aromatics: chopped onion, crushed garlic and 1 bay leaf
- Seasonings: extra large bouillon cube, kosher salt, black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Water: 3 cups, no more, no less! You can substitute chicken stock, if you wish. Just eliminate the bouillon and reduce the amount of the salt if you do, otherwise your rice may be over-seasoned.
How to cook Cape Verdean-Style Rice with Lima Beans:
Step 1: Saute the aromatics
You’ll start off by heating 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a 3 quart saucepan or in a dutch oven, over medium/high heat. Add the onions, garlic, bouillon cube and bay leaf. Cook until the onions become fragrant and translucent (1-2 minutes). Use a wooden spoon to break up the bouillon cube as the onions cook.
Step 2: Bring water and seasonings to a boil
Add three cups of water to the pan, and stir in the salt and pepper. Taste the water and add more salt and pepper if needed (you shouldn’t have to add any more salt). Bring the water to a boil.
Normally when I boil water before adding the rice, I keep the lid off the pan (unless it’s a lot of water). You can cover the pan if you want to though. I leave it uncovered during the initial boil because I have a tendency to forget to about it when it’s covered!
Step 3: Add the rice and lima beans
As soon as the water starts boiling, add the lima beans to the pot. Rinse and drain the rice thoroughly, then add it to the pot immediately. Give the pot a final stir, then cover the pot with a lid and turn the flame down very low.
Step 4: Cook the rice and let it rest
Let the rice cook over a very low flame for 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes has passed, uncover the rice and use a fork to taste it. The water should be fully evaporated. If you’re satisfied with the texture, turn the flame off, cover the pot with a lid again, and let the rice rest for 5-10 minutes.
For firm rice, 20 minutes of cooking time is perfect. For softer rice, add 5 minutes to the cooking time. Remember to let your rice rest covered once you’re satisfied with the texture.
Step 5: Fluff the rice and serve!
Once the rice has rested, discard the bay leaf and fluff the rice. Gently toss the rice once or twice with a large spoon to distribute the lima beans. Transfer the rice to a serving dish or serve it from the pot.
Arroz’d fava can be served with just about any meat or seafood dish. It also re-heats well in a microwave or steamer. Try tossing it in a frying pan the next morning, and serving with a fried egg as part of a traditional Cape Verdean breakfast!
Just a little close-up of this masterpiece! You’ll notice some variations in color of the lima beans, this is perfectly normal!
Look at how those grains of rice are perfectly separated and don’t lump together! This rice was cooked for 20 minutes, the grains of rice are tender but not overly soft or mushy!
Tips and Substitutions
- Baby lima beans are a great substitute if you can’t locate fordhook lima beans. You can use canned limas in place of frozen. I don’t use dried lima beans for this dish because it can be hard to find green ones. If you can locate them and want to use them, you’ll have to cook them before adding the rice otherwise they’ll be hard.
- Use parboiled long-grain or jasmine rice.
- Use chicken broth or stock instead of plain water for extra flavor (cut the bouillon and reduce the salt if you do this).
- Leave out lima beans and reduce the amount of water by half of a cup, for perfectly plain white rice
- Inspect the rice thoroughly for pebbles or discolored grains before rinsing.
- Make sure to thoroughly rinse and drain(not soak) the rice just before adding it to the pot.
- Minced garlic can be used instead of crushed – use the same measurement.
- Don’t disturb the rice while it’s cooking.
- Let the rice rest and fluff it with a fork!
Check out a few of my other Cape Verdean recipes:
- Bacalhau e Grão de Bico (Cape Verdean Salted Cod with Chickpeas)
- Bitoque Recipe (Steak topped with egg and a dark pan-sauce)
- Modje de São Nicolau- Cape Verdean Goat Stew Recipe
- Cape Verdean Pastel Recipe – Pastel de Atum
- Linguica with Peppers and Onions (Cape Verdean Recipe)