Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summertime succotash

I've become obsessed with succotash. Until a week ago I didn't even know what succotash was and now I've made this dish three times. Essentially succotash is a dish that includes corn and any shell bean or lima bean. I use Dirty Girl Produce Cranberry shelling beans, Romano beans, and Cipollini onions plus garlic and a few ears of corn. Succotash is perfect for summer, and it's exactly the kind of dish I love because it's tasty, inexpensive, and endlessly adaptable. It's even vegan (unless you don't want it to be since it's great with crispy pieces of bacon too).

Shell bean helpers

According to, "Succotash is a basic American Indian dish. Among the Indian nations of the Northeast, succotash was kept simmering at all times so that any hungry visitor or family member could be fed." Succotash was also popular during the Great Depression when it was topped with a pastry crust. In my opinion nothing's better than a dish with a track record of feeding hungry visitors and nourishing to people during hard times.

While great by itself it also makes a great side dish. We've had it with local salmon and also alongside BLTs (using, of course, DGP Early Girl dry-farmed tomatoes and lettuce).

Summertime succotash with corn, Cranberry beans, Romano beans, and Cipollini onions

2 pounds Cranberry beans, shelled (a rule of thumb about beans: 1 lb fresh shelling beans = 1 cup cooked beans)
1 pound Romano beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized peices on a diagonal
3 medium Cipollini onions, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 ears fresh corn, sliced off the cob
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Fresh parsley or basil, chopped

1) Shell cranberry beans and put in a medium pot. Cover with water, about 2 inches above beans. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add a couple large pinches of salt and a big glug of olive oil.  Let simmer 30 to 40 until beans are cooked all the way through but not falling apart. Do not undercook. They should taste creamy. Sample a few of them. For a lot more on cooking fresh shelling beans see this post: Make your Own Pot of Fresh Shelling Beans. When the beans are cooked, pour all of the bean broth into a resealable container and refrigerate or freeze for use in soup. Keep cooked beans for the succotash.

2) Meanwhile bring another pot of water to boil. Add a big pinch of salt and add in the Romano beans for about 3 to 4 minutes until crisp-tender. Remove Romano beans and let them cool on a cookie sheet.

3) In a large skillet warm a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add onions with a pinch of salt and saute on medium heat until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add corn and more salt and black pepper and cook a few more minutes. Turn off heat until Cranberry and Romano beans are ready.

4) When both the Cranberry beans and Romano beans are ready add to skillet with onions, garlic and corn and toss to combine. Let ingredients cook together for a few minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Top with chopped parsley or basil. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*You could do each of these recipe steps a day in advance and then combine Cranberry beans, Romano beans and onion/corn mixture and cook it all together for a few minutes to reheat and blend flavors before serving.

*There are many regional variations to succotash, which include peppers, tomatoes, cream, bacon, or summer squash for example.