Centuries of Cretan Herbs: Large Lima Beans with Sage

Discover the unique flavors of Cretan cuisine in your very own kitchen.

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 I wish I had known ahead of time about Lambraki’s cooking school, which she holds in her home near Herakleion. There, on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean, it is Lambraki’s pleasure to introduce people to Cretan cooking. “I love to share my knowledge and love of Cretan food with others,” she says. Her cookbooks have been an attempt to do just that as hers is one of the few Greek cookbooks translated into English, German, and French.

Here, Lambraki shares two of her recipes with readers of The Herb Companion, as well as a bit of background on two favorite Cretan herbs, sage and fennel. For those who can’t get to Crete but who want to try her other recipes, Myrsini Lambraki’s cookbooks (Herbs, Greens, Fruit: The key to the Mediterranean diet, and Olive Oil: the elixir of life) can now be ordered from http://cretashop.gr.


Wild sage grows in abundance on the hills and mountains of Crete. Sage has a slightly bitter and pungent taste and goes well with pork, duck, and bacon. It reduces the taste of fat, and marries well with fried rabbit, shrimp, and fish rich in fat, such as eel. Sage is also used in the process of smoking sausages because it imparts its aroma to the meat. In addition, the traditional hard bread of Crete tastes better when sage twigs are burned in a wood-fired oven.

Large Lima Beans with Sage  

Serves 6

  • 18 ounces large lima beans
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • Fresh sage for garnish
  1. Place the beans in a large pot.
  2. Add cold water to top beans by about 3 inches and let them soak overnight.
  3. Drain the beans and place them back in the pot.
  4. Add the cold water, olive oil, sage, and garlic. Cook on high until boiling. Stir and lower the temperature.
  5. Cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Occasionally stir the beans.
  6. Drain and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. Transfer the beans to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with fresh sage.

Click here for the main article, Centuries of Cretan Herbs.


Nancy Allison is a freelance writer living in New York. She writes about plants, people, and places for several magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.