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Favas add colorful, flavorful twist to succotash

Recipe: Fava bean succotash with fresh corn

Favas have big pods and beans with chewy skins that are best removed. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Succotash is a true American original. According to culinary lore, Native Americans introduced colonists to this mix of corn and beans – two crops that they grew (usually together). The name comes from an Algonquian word for “boiled corn kernels.”

In the late 1700s, New England recipes described succotash as “boiled corn and green beans especially limas.” Other vegetables were added to the flavorful mix and different beans substituted. Succotash evolved along with our country.

Favas work well as a substitute for limas, but these brightly colored (and meaty) beans cook in a fraction of the time. Although the peeled fava beans cook quickly, they take a while to prepare. After removal from their pods, large mature beans need to be individually skinned.

Those skins tend to be tough, chewy and bitter. Removal improves favas’ overall flavor and texture. Small, tender immature beans (under ¼ inch) can keep their skins on.

How to skin fava beans: Remove beans from pods. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Plunge beans into boiling water and boil for 3 to 4 minutes, until the skins start to wrinkle.

Drain; plunge beans into ice water or rinse under cold water. With a thumb nail or paring knife, make a slit on long side of each bean and peel off skin, one at a time. Set aside the bright green fava beans.

Two cups unshelled fava beans yields about 1 to 1-1/4 cups peeled.

Fava beans also may be frozen for later use.

Fava bean succotash

Makes 4 servings

1 cup fava beans, peeled

2 tablespoons butter

½ cup onions, chopped

½ cup celery, chopped including green tops

1 cup fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob

½ cup water

Salt and pepper to taste

Peel fava beans and set side.

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter. Saute onion and celery until soft.

Add corn kernels and water; bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cover. Cook 4 minutes, until corn is almost tender.

Stir in fava beans gently. Add a little more water if necessary. Cover and cook over medium heat for 4 or 5 minutes, until beans are tender but not mushy.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Fava bean succotash features fresh favas and corn.


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 26:

Sacramento can expect another inch of rain from this latest storm. Leave the sprinklers off at least another week. Temps will dip down into the low 30s early in the week, so avoid planting tender seedlings (such as tomatoes). Concentrate on these tasks before or after this week’s rain:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Knock off aphids with a strong blast of water or some bug soap as soon as they appear.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to help corral blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees, which are now in bloom and setting fruit.

To prevent sunburn and borer problems on young trees, paint the exposed portion of the trunk with diluted white latex (water-based) interior paint. Dilute the paint with an equal amount of cold water before application.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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