Spring Succotash

“Sufferin’ succotash!” Raise your hand if you grew up with Looney Tunes on Saturday mornings. I’m guessing that these days there are more people familiar with Sylvester the cat’s oft-uttered exclamation than there are those who have actually tried the dish. If you are unfamiliar with succotash, according to the The Story of Corn by Betty Fussell, the word “succotash” is derived from a Narragansett indian word for “boiled corn kernels”. And indeed, corn is the central ingredient in this dish. Usually succotash is a combination of corn and lima beans. But if you make it in the late spring, when the first corn comes into the market, and fresh fava beans are on sale, you can make a spring version of this classic recipe that’s terrific.

We decided to make a hearty version of succotash with some diced ham, and add a Mediterranean touch by using olive oil and a little lemon. Mint adds a bright flavor to the dish. We used fresh corn in this recipe, but you could use frozen corn. Fava beans are available at many farmer’s markets or at high-end supermarkets. They require some work to process, but it’s worth it. If fava beans are not available, you can use peas to stay with the spring theme, or use lima beans for a more traditional approach.

Did I mention how good this is? Trust me, it’s good. It’s one of those “you should make this” dishes. I practically ate the whole batch.

Spring Succotash Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4-6 as a side.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups shucked and shelled fava beans* (can substitute fresh or frozen lima beans or peas)
  • 2 cups corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 cups diced ham (check ham ingredients for gluten-free if cooking gluten-free)
  • 2 diced carrots
  • 2-3 chopped spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint or parsley
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Salt to taste

* To get 2 cups of shelled fava beans, start with 3 lbs of whole fava beans. Working over a large bowl, remove the outer shell by bending a pod near one of the beans, cracking the pod and then squeezing the bean with your fingers to shoot it into the bowl. Once you have filled your bowl, take the beans and boil them in salted water for 5 minutes. Shock them in ice water to preserve their bright green color. Then peel off the outer peel of the bean.

Method

1 Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan – large enough to hold all of the vegetables and the ham. Add the ham and the carrots and sauté, stirring from time to time, until the ham begins to brown, about 5 minutes.

2 Add the corn and spring onions and toss to combine. Saute for another 2 minutes.

3 Add the fava beans, which already have been blanched, and cook for one more minute. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, and taste for salt. You might not need any because the ham is salty. Cover the pot and let it sit for 2 minutes, to steam.

Toss in the mint and serve hot or at room temperature.

spring-succotash-b.jpg

21 Comments

  1. Renee

    This looks and sounds great! What are “spring onions”? Green onions?

    Spring onions look like large, fat green onions. You can use green onions too. ~Elise

  2. Lisa

    I love making this dish. I make mine with corn of course, but I chop up red & green bell peppers, sweet onions and I use the frozen “green” lima beans. It is so good. The bell peppers give it a great taste.

  3. Val from PA

    Gorgeous pictures, Elise!!! So colorful and appetizing looking! I make succotash often but I use edamame – not too fond of lima beans. I LOVE the addition of ham – will definitely have to add that next time!

    Never had fava beans and will have to try them if I can find them – are they mushy like lima beans? Or do they have more of a crunch like edamame?

    Probably somewhere in between. Definitely not mushy. But not crunchy either. ~Elise

  4. Heba @ My Life in a Pyramid

    As an Egyptian-American, I eat my fair share of fava beans (http://mylifeinapyramid.com/2010/04/10/beans-for-breakfast-fava-beans-egyptian-ful-medames/). I absolutely love this idea for a recipe; definitely trying it! :-)

    p.s. Always wondered what sufferin’ succotash meant, by the way!

  5. Liza (Jersey Cook)

    These colors are gorgeous – they just pop right out at you. Count me in as someone who’s never had succotash. It seems like a wonderful side dish for some simply grilled chicken or fish.

  6. Mimi

    This recipe looks great. My dad was familiar with succotash, and he grew up in New York state. It looks as if the Narragansett Indians inhabited Rhode Island, so I’m interested in your comment that mostly southerners are likely to have experience of the dish.

    No idea why, perhaps it’s just where the recipe took hold. Or, is still popular. ~Elise

  7. Kristina C.

    I love succotash! This version is extra special – I will have to try it!

    Not only did I watch Looney Toons on Saturday morning, but the doctor had me say “Sufferin’ Succotash” when he gave me a shot, in the days when doctors made house calls!

    So, how old am I?!

  8. Traveling Culinary Artist

    For dinner tonite I made us a succotash of sorts, used frozen shoepeg corn, frozen edamame and fresh chopped yellow pepper tossed with vinaigrette made with red wine vinegar, shallot pepper, parsley, olive oil; served warm over arugula! Yum. Can’t wait to make your version, love fava beans!

  9. Colleen W.

    I found some peeled dried fava beans, do you know if these are an OK substitute? I have a 10 mo old, so time savings is a plus. Next Spring I’ll have her help me prep fresh fava beans. ;-)

    No, you want to use fresh for this recipe. ~Elise

  10. anonymous

    What on earth does pardon the expression ham or any other meat have to do with a classic vegetarian succotash?

    This isn’t a classic vegetarian succotash. ~Elise

  11. Niki

    Oh my! I’ve been intrigued by the fava beans I’ve seen at the farmer’s market and this recipe gave me the extra nudge to buy and try. Delicious! This recipe is definitely a keeper.

  12. Melissa

    Golly I’m ready for summer to come to harvest some of these luscious things!
    I really like sub-ing edamame for the fava or lima beans (I always use frozen). The firm nugget-y-ness of them makes a great contrast against fresh corn which just pops with sweetness. I serve the succotash with a thrown together Asian-inspired dipping sauce and some pot stickers from the freezer section (Trader Joe’s are choice and cheap) for a great meal on the fly during the week.

  13. Kate

    I made this last night and it was WONDERFUL. I had parsley on hand, so I used that, but next time I want to try it with the mint.

  14. Katie

    Thanks for this recipe – we all loved it! It’s fresh & light – perfect for spring & summer! I’m bringing it to work (for lunch) every day this week!

  15. BB

    Yum! Made this last night, and it was wonderful. This recipe even made carrots, my veggie enemy, ham-flavored and tasty. I’m also from the succotash-free south, but this will be going into our regular veggie rotation! It was very good with frozen limas, but I may try edamame or favas next time.

  16. Jodi

    Made this tonight and it was delicious. From the comments, I guess I would also try edamame. Thanks for this great recipe and your wonderful website. I love getting your email updates.

  17. Emily

    I made this tonight and it was yummy! I was actually just looking to see what to do with lima beans — my husband likes them and I bought some at the market and I wondered, “boil or butter?” when lo and behold, the first hit on your site was this scrumptious stuff. I love how colorful this dish is. Oh, and — I used beef hot dogs instead of ham. Yum! :)

  18. GM

    I made this and it is terribly tasty! I used peas, turkey ham, italian parsley, and left out the corn since we had none. Oh, and I cooked it in bacon grease instead of oil. The little one is eating it right now and she’s VERY picky. We’ll be making this one again.

  19. Lana from Never Enough Thyme

    Very nice spring version of succotash. Like the combination of flavors with the touch of Mediterranean thrown in as well.

  20. ATL Cook

    I grew up with it in the Midwest–a summer only dish with fresh corn cut off the cob and freshly shelled Fordhook Lima beans.

    I still make it, using frozen Lima beans. Fresh corn was 28 cents an ear; time to make some. I like the ham with it too.

  21. Lee

    I love succotash. Taking a cue from a restaurant I used to cook in, I add in fresh diced tomatoes. And because I don’t really like butterbeans/lima beans (shocking, I know, for a Southerner), I use either fresh peas or frozen edamame. Grill some shrimp with garlic, lemon and dill and serve it over the succotash – a great late spring/summer meal!

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