Fava Bean Succotash and Camping with Dinosaurs

We just ended a weeklong vacation camping trip.  In a tent.  Without a fridge.  We camped through dinosaur country, checking out dinosaur fossils, dinosaur tracks, 10,000 year-old petroglyphs, and rockhounding.  My husband and boys love this stuff.  I’ll be honest, my happy place is not in a tent, un-showered for five straight days.  {My happy place is more along the lines of a beach, crystal blue waters stretching to the horizon, something all-inclusive would be great–because then I don’t have to do the dishes…and it’ll have a shower…}  I will tell you from personal experience that squeeze cheese + crackers, raisins + cream of wheat, and non-perishable fruit containers in heavy syrup do not satisfy a fresh food craving.  I am high-tailing it to a Farmer’s Market tomorrow, and drooling while writing today’s post.

One of our camping nights was pretty chilly and rainy, and other than hot chocolate, I kept thinking of a dish I’d made a few weeks ago:  A warm bowl of creamy polenta topped with succotash.  Succotash is traditionally a Southern dish cooked with corn and lima beans.  I substituted fresh fava beans in place of the lima beans {lima beans never were my favorite growing up}, and asparagus tips I had on hand.  I am going to have to figure out how to turn this meal into one of those “Just Add Water” camping meals and pack it along next time!!

Fava beans are like lima beans in size, but where limas are kind of starchy, dry, and flavorless, favas have a sweet flavor and juicy texture.  They are also packed with a nutritional punch:  Per 1 cup of favas, you get 10 grams of Protein (20% of your daily nutritional need), 418 mg of Potassium (11% daily need), 9 grams of fiber (36% daily need), and throw in some Vitamins A and C, Iron, and Magnesium for good measure.  And, when mixing a legume with corn, you are also getting all the protein essential amino acids in one bite.

There are only a few beans per pod, so count on purchasing at least one pound of fava pods per person/serving.  You open the bean pod by pulling the “seam” of the bean from the top down, like opening a zipper on a jacket.  The beans are encased in a white, waxy shell.  That shell is removed by boiling for about 5-7 minutes, then running under cold water to stop the cooking process.  I cook mine in a colander for the easy pull-out-and-run-under-cold-water method.

fava bean succotash 1 fava bean succotash 2

The succotash is super easy to make–just get the fresh corn shucked, the fava beans shelled, and the asparagus tips cut up, and sauté everyone together, adding water halfway through the cook time, and then some butter at the very end to make a buttery succotash sauce.  I served this meal on top of creamy white polenta–it was filling, sweet, savory, and Farmer-Stand-Fresh.

fava bean succotash 3 fava bean succotash 4 favabeansuccotash


FAVA BEAN SUCCOTASH WITH WHITE POLENTA

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: pretty easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup white cornmeal
  • 1 cup milk (optional)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast flakes to keep vegan)
  • 4 pounds fresh fava bean pods, shelled from the main pod
  • 4 ears fresh corn, shucked and cut from the cob, reserving 1 fresh cob
  • 1 small bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut in thirds
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 tablespoons butter (or vegan butter option)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare the polenta.  Stir 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup milk (or water), and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a mixing bowl and set aside.  Heat 3 cups water to boiling in a large pot.  Once boiling, add the cornmeal mixture and stir vigorously to keep the mixture smooth and lump-free.  Turn the heat to low and continue cooking for another 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently.  You may need to add another 1/2 cup-1 cup of water, 1/4 cup at a time, while cooking, depending on the consistency you like.  Adding more water while cooking will give the polenta a looser consistency, less water will make a thicker polenta.  Once done, add the parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast flakes and put a lid on the pot to keep warm while preparing the succotash.
  2. Place the fava beans with the waxy, white exterior shell in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and let cook for 5-7 minutes.  Drain and run under cold water for 2-3 minutes.  The beans will pop right out of this waxy exterior with a little pinch.  Completely shell the beans into a bowl.
  3. Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium-high.  Add the fava beans, corn, asparagus, and onion, and salt and pepper to taste.  Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and the beans are just tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup water and the cob, and allow to come to a gentle boil.  Lower the heat and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.  Remove the cob and add the butter, stirring until a smooth, velvety sauce has brought all the vegetables together.
  5. To serve, divide the polenta evenly among the bowls or plates, and top with the succotash.  If desired, sprinkle with more parmesan cheese.

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