Recipe: Mayahuel and Her Five Sisters Succotash

Via America the Great Cookbook

Mayahuel and Her Five Sisters Succotash

Courtesy of Gary Nabhan and Barry Infuso

Makes 8 servings


  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) dried mottled Pima lima beans (we get ours from the San Xavier Co-op Farm)
  • 3 cups (720 ml) chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large ears sweet corn or green Mexican June corn, husks and silk removed
  • 2 green summer squash
  • 1 prickly pear pad (nopal), spines removed
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup (150 g) diced golden, red, and orange mini bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup diced freshly roasted agave heart, or 2 Tbsp maguey sweet sap or amber agave nectar
  • 1/2 Tbsp Chimayó chile powder or paprika (optional)


Thoroughly wash the lima beans. Place in a slow cooker, add the stock and salt, and cook on high until tender, 1-2 hours. (If you don’t have a slow cooker, simmer very gently over low heat until tender.)

Using a serrated knife, cut the kernels from the corn ears. Drain off half of the liquid from the beans, add the corn kernels to the pot, and cook for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the squash and prickly pear into 1/2 in (12mm) cubes. In a frying pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the squash, prickly pear, and bell peppers and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the agave heart and toss lightly until all the vegetables are glazed. Add the lima beans and corn and lightly toss until they too are glazed. Transfer to a serving bowl and dust with the chile powder, if desired. Serve warm, with your favorite coleslaw or salad on the side.

Mayahuel is the Nahuatl name for the Aztec goodness of agaves. The addition of agave gives the vegetables in the succotash a rich, smoky glaze that both heightens and integrates their flavors. Instead of thinking of succotash as a dish comprised only of the Three Sisters of corn, beans, and squash, we think of it as comprising the Six Sisters from the Mesoamerican diet tradition: agave, beans, chiles, corn, prickly pear pads, and squash. 

Jeaninne Kaufer