Succotash Acini di Pepe Salad
for the salad:
- 8 oz acini di pepe
- 2 strips bacon
- 1 pint fresh lima beans, shelled
- 3 small ears’ worth of corn kernels
- 3 oz crumbled feta
- 2 scallions, diced
- 1/4 red onion, diced
- 1 cubanelle pepper, diced
for the dressing:
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/3 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon honey
- 3-4 tablespoons mayo
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- freshly ground black pepper
for the dressing:
- Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth, set aside.
for the salad:
- Make the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and allow to cool. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towel-lined plates then cut into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- Drain all but about 1 tablespoon of grease in the pan. Add the lima beans and corn and saute until the lima beans are cooked through, about 10 minutes . Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Place the pasta, bacon, lima beans, corn and all remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss to evenly distribute them. Add the dressing and toss again to lightly coat the contents in dressing.
- Serve immediately or up to 24 hrs later.
I first tried fresh lima beans a few years ago and was amazed at their softer texture. Frozen is pretty good but if you have fresh, that’s the way to go. I actually bought these over a week ago when I went to a farm stand for tomatoes for my birthday, kept them in the pod in the fridge and they were still good so don’t feel like you have to buy and shell them the same day. That pressure often deters me from buying things that haven’t been shelled but I haven’t found it to be an issue for lima beans.
Succotash is a classic and at least around here, there are only a few weeks when you can get really great sweet corn and fresh lima beans at the same same time so I try to make it at least once. This time I thought I’d turn into to pasta salad to eliminate the need for a second dish for dinner.
I’ve been busy because sadly, my mom who has been living with brain cancer for the last 14 months is now home on hospice. She’s doing very well mentally at the moment–she’s nearly her normal self–so I’ve been trying to get over there to visit frequently. Luckily they don’t live too far away but it does take up a good bit of the day. Thanks to the pandemic, going out for a quick bite after a visit really isn’t an option. I’ve had to get creative. For dinner, we prepped the salad to the point where I’d add the cheese, scallions, red onion, and pepper and stuck it in the fridge. When we got home, I just added the remaining ingredients and the dressing and served it with some quickly cooked sockeye salmon. It really made for a speedy yet filling meal.
I think pasta salads have a reputation for being heavy and not very fresh tasting but I think that’s unfair. My trick is to add a healthy dose of an acidic ingredient to the dressing–in this case, lemon juice) and something creamy (mayo) to really help lightly coat all the ingredients without weighing them down. Then, I chose a small pasta that didn’t overwhelm the corn kernels and lots of fresh-tasting mix-ins– crunchy raw cubanelle pepper, red onions, and scallions. The lima beans need to be cooked before eating so I sauted them in a bit of bacon grease with the corn. Late August corn can be slightly tougher than earlier corn so the brief saute insured it was soft. If your corn is already very tender, you can put it in the salad raw. The end result is a pasta salad that is incredibly fresh tasting, has great texture variety, a lightly smokey flavor and a just enough pasta to make it more filling.