Santa Barbara Succotash

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

All summer long, we make some version of succotash. Love the name, of course. Just what is succotash? Traditionally, succotash was made with fresh lima beans and summer corn, possibly embellished with tomatoes, onion, red pepper, bacon…although I’ve often seen recipes that include zucchini or another kind of summer squash.


Squash, beans and corn are available at our farmer’s markets from late June into August and September, so it is natural to put them together for a quick summer dinner. Santa Barbara succotash includes this trinity: sweet corn cut from the cob; whatever summer squash looks best, be it zucchini, crookneck yellow, flying saucer, etc.; and ideally a fresh shell bean: lima, scarlet runner beans, or smaller beans such as white or green cannellini. If those are not available, I’ll make succotash with fat green beans or wax beans cut into short (1”) pieces, and have even been known to use sliced fresh sugar snap peas.


I might start out with a little chopped onion, leeks, or shallot first, for flavor, sautéed in olive oil or ghee; then I add the other ingredients. Or if I don’t use onions in the base, I finish the succotash with chopped chives or green onions, as in the recipe we’ve included, here.  


If the fresh shell beans are small, they cook fairly quickly, so I’ll add them to the sauté. The large ones, though, might take as much as fifteen or twenty minutes to cook, so I simmer them in water by themselves until tender, then add them to the succotash near the end.

Another version of succotash we made this summer!

Serves 4

2 Tbs. butter

2 medium summer squash: light green zucchini, or yellow crookneck, cut into ½” cubes

1 large ear corn, shucked and cut from the cob

¼ lb. green beans cut into 1” lengths

2 Tbs. fresh chives, chopped


In a 4 qt. heavy saucepan, melt butter. Add squash, corn, and green beans, and sauté, stirring, until vegetables are a little browned. Add cover and continue cooking just until they are tender, checking on them occasionally. (If it gets too dry towards the end add a Tbs. or two of water). Stir in chives; serve immediately.

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