Chilean Shell Bean Succotash
This is a hearty harvest-time succotash which in typical Chilean fashion is a
combination of favorite seasonal vegetables and herbs. Go to your farmer's market in the
late summer and buy some fresh sweet corn, tomatoes, cranberry beans, mature squash, and
basil. You probably already have the other ingredients on hand. This is an excellent
vegetarian dish if you replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock or water.
The cranberry beans may be hard to
find, especially in the South or Midwest (except Michigan, which grows tons of them).
They're also known as October beans in some locales, and borlotti or Romano
beans in Italian communities. Harvested in late summer, these beans are marbled purple and
white, and have a hearty flavor reminiscent of chestnuts. Like favas or lima beans, they
are always cooked shelled. If you can't find fresh beans, look for dried (or canned)
borlotti in an Italian market; and if you still can't find them, substitute another bean,
such as Great Northern, Navy, limas, or even black-eyed peas.
The Chilean squash (zapallo) is not found in the U.S., but is similar to
banana squash. You can use any hard-rind mature squash available in late summer or early
fall, such as butternut, banana, acorn, or winter squash. You can even use a stringy
squash such as pumpkin or spaghetti squash, but it wouldn't be authentic, and you wouldn't
offend me. Some have a nutty flavor and some have a sweet flavor, so use your preference.
*Serves 4 to 6*
1 lb dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight, or 2 ½ c fresh
1 c chicken or vegetable stock
1 T cold-pressed vegetable oil
2 lb winter squash, peeled, seeded and diced
2 large onions, chopped
4 ears corn, kernels cut off cob
3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 small chile, minced
3 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
1 T paprika
½ t salt
3 T fresh basil, minced, or 1 t dried
1 T dried oregano
3 bay leaves
¼ t whole peppercorns
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
½ teaspoon whole coriander seeds
¼ to ½ t chile powder
Shell the beans and wash them, if using the fresh; drain them of their
overnight soak, if using the dried. Place them in a large saucepan, pour in
stock, cover with water and simmer for 20 minutes, until almost tender.
While beans are cooking, heat oil in large skillet and add squash, onions,
corn, two of the chopped tomatoes (reserve the third for garnish), chile,
garlic, paprika and salt. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add to the saucepan with the
beans and more water to cover. Add 1 T fresh basil or 1 t dried (reserve
remaining fresh basil for garnish), oregano, bay leaves, peppercorns, cumin
and coriander seeds and chile powder. Cover and simmer for about 25 minutes,
taste and correct seasonings.
When serving, garnish with fresh chopped basil and fresh chopped or sliced
tomatoes. Serve with minced ají or chile on the side.