Summer’s Harvest: Cook Up a Lovely Pot of “Sufferin’ Succotash”

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“Succotash” is one of those words that’s just a whole lot of fun to say. To my mind, the best way to get a chance to say it is to cook up a batch of this homey American dish. Succotash has deep roots in American culinary history, as first citing for use of the word dates to 1751. I’d imagined it was of Southern origin, but it turns out to be from New England, it’s name derived from the Narragansett Indian word for “boiled corn kernels.” Although lima beans and corn are the defining ingredients, quite honestly, you could substitute fava beans or edamame and still have a respectable succotash. Since we’re in midsummer, I give you my warm weather version, using fresh ingredients. When the weather turns cool, I’ll share my alternate recipe which makes use of dried corn and lima beans, along with winter squash. Eat this as a vegetable side dish, or do as I did for dinner tonight: stuff it into warm corn tortillas and top with salsa. It was a wonderful light meal. And if you can’t recall who popularized the phrase “sufferin’ succotash,” it was Sylvester the cat in classic Warner Brothers cartoons from the forties and fifties (which I must confess, I’m old enough to remember). See my recipe after the jump.

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SUMMER VEGETABLE SUCCOTASH

Serves 4

2 cobs of corn, shucked and cooked in boiling water, 5-6 minutes, then kernels cut from the cob (about 1 1/4 cups of kernels)

1 cup, about 7 ounces, fresh or frozen lima beans, or edamame or fava beans, blanched in the same water 4-5 minutes.

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 medium/large zucchini, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise,  and cut into 1/2-inch thick half rounds

2 medium sunburst squash, trimmed, cut into chuncks

1 large tomato cut into large dice

1-2 teaspoons thyme leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

salt, freshly cracked black pepper, umeboshi vinegar, to taste

1. Bring about 2 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil, turn down the heat slightly, and cook the ears of corn in the lightly-boiling water 5-6 minutes, or until just done.  Cool, and cut kernels off of the cob.

2. Heat a roomy, thick-bottomed pot over high heat. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil. Turn heat down to medium high and toss in the onion and garlic. Sauté 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the zucchini, sunburst squash, thyme and a pinch of salt.  Sauté 3-4 minutes more. Add the tomato and continue sautéing.

4. After another 3-4 minutes, add the lima beans and corn. Turn heat to low and heat through. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and a teaspoon or so of umeboshi vinegar (optional). Toss in the parsley.  Taste.  Give it an additional stir, and serve.

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