This is one of those recipes that uses so many fresh, in-season ingredients, it's hard to pass up. Especially when 99% of those fresh, in-season ingredients are already sitting in your fridge begging to be turned into something delicious. Evidently this is an original twist on a traditional succotash, which, according to the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, is a native American dish consisting of "corn and beans (usually limas) combined after cooking and served together." Etymologically, the word derives from the Narragansett language (a tribe in and around Rhode Island) that means "something broken into pieces" (again according to Woman's Day).
Monday, September 22, 2008
However, when I went looking for the fresh lima beans (the only ingredient I didn't already have on hand), they were nowhere to be found. I swear I saw them at the farmers market this weekend, late summer and early fall being prime lima bean season, but I was too lazy to make the trip all the way down there this afternoon, and they weren't in my local shop. Instead, I found fava beans. Fava beans?! In September? Fava beans are notorious for their short, spring season, so they were a complete surprise today. The recipe said I could substitute any shell bean for the limas, although it would cease to be a traditional succotash. Fava beans were the only shell beans I could find, so I resigned myself to the laborious double-shelling that is only supposed to be required once a year. Fava beens need to be shucked from their shell, boiled, and then shucked again from a tender inner skin. Not a speedy process, but I was willing.
In this recipe, from The L.L. Bean Books of New New England Cookery, sweet red pepper is added to the traditional combination of corn and lima beans, for a simple, healthy and flavorful vegetarian dish. I, however, didn't use red pepper, but a rainbow of colors from the farmers market.
Sweet Red Pepper Summer Succotash
1 tablespoon corn oil (I don't have this on hand, I used olive)
2 garlic cloves, passed through a press
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped sweet red (or orange, or yellow...) pepper
2 cups raw corn kernels
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
2 cups cooked small lima beans or shell beans
Cook the garlic, onions and sweet red pepper in the oil until limp. Add the corn, the herbs (but not the parsley), a bit of salt and pepper to taste, and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Stir in the beans and enough water to achieve a creamy consistency. Remove from the heat and let stand for about 15 minutes. Reheat, and serve with a garnish of chopped parsley