Fava Bean Succotash

by Sarah on June 18, 2012

Poor old Sylvester, he never did catch Tweety Bird.  Maybe if he had a taste of this succotash he wouldn’t have had such a craving for parakeet.

This version uses fava beans (must. resist. anthony hopkins gag….sorry, can’t help myself) instead of the usual lima bean in this recipe because my dear old hubby is haunted by the memories of the evil overcooked and/or canned limas of his youth.  He does, however, quite enjoy favas–which I find hilarious because I think they taste quite similar.  I’m going to get him with fresh limas one of these days, I bet he won’t even know the difference.

Succotash has a rich history in America.  It was common to make pot pies out of it during the Depression when meat was scarce and is/was common fare in New England and the Southern states.  I learned to make it for the first time when I took “American Regional Cooking” in culinary school, though truthfully, it’s really just vegetables in cream and butter.  Not rocket science.

Like any other cooking with multiple ingredients, I suggest you get everything ready before you start to cook.  Take the corn off the cob using a sharp knife. I like to rest the cob in a shallow Tupperware or Pyrex dish–it really keeps the kernels from flying everywhere.  If you just do it on your cutting board: BEWARE!  You will be finding corn kernels in the unlikeliest of places for weeks to come.

As for fava beans, they require some work.  But they’re worth it (promise). First take them out of their little pods.  Then blanch them in salted water for a minute or two.  Drain and rinse to cool.  You’ll notice there’s this weird skin on them.  Don’t eat that.  All you do is pop the fava bean out of that little jacket and keep going until they’re all peeled.  You can play some music or do this while watching Antiques Roadshow.  It makes it go faster.

Because I’m a rebel, I am adding not only fava beans, but also zucchini to my succotash.  Why the heck not?  Besides, it was just there, in the vegetable drawer, looking at me forlornly, waiting to be cooked into something delicious.

When everything is finished sautéing and smells delicious, make it more delicious by adding cream.  Not a ton, maybe a half cup.  Also some cayenne for a little kick.  And fresh herbs!  Also some more butter.  Why not?  It’s just vegetables.

So there you go.  That’s succotash.  I don’t know why it’s suffering.  I do know that I’m going to be making this often.  And don’t tell my husband if I happen to slip a few lima beans in next time.

Fava Bean Succotash


  • 1 1/2 cup fava beans, removed from pods, blanched and peeled (Substitute lima beans or any other shell bean if favas are unavailable)
  • 3 ears fresh corn, cut from the cob
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into small dice
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into small dice
  • 2 green onions, chopped, green and white parts separated
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • salt, pepper, cayenne
  • 2 Tbsp chopped chives


  • Heat Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 4 Tbsp butter and sauté red onion until it softens. Season with salt.
  • Add zucchini, green peppers and the whites of the green onion. Sauté until softened.
  • Add the corn and stir through until heated. Taste and season again with salt and pepper.
  • Add the fava beans and heat through.
  • Add cream and remaining 2 Tbsp butter. Stir through.
  • Add the tops of the green onions and chives. (You can use other herbs here too)
  • Season again with cayenne. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
  • Serve hot.

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