Southern Succotash

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I’ve always loved vegetable mixes, especially that popular mix of corn, carrots and Lima beans called succotash. To me, the three vegetables combined were always more interesting than they were served individually. And then, of course, there is the name “succotash”, which always seemed fun to say, especially if you use your best Sylvester the Cat voice and say “Sufferin’ Succotash.” But I digress.

This succotash has a lovely, summer Southern flavor based on vegetables that are plentiful here in late summer North Carolina. It is a delicious and vitamin rich side dish, but served on top of organic rice, grits or corn bread, it is also a hearty, vegetarian main dish. This version centers on okra, tomatoes, field peas and onions, all grown within 50 miles. So delicious, so healthy, so summer. Sufferin’? Not hardly–how about celebratin’ succotash?

Southern Succotash (makes 4 entree portions or 6 side dish portions)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet, organic onion, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves organic garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 quart baby okra, washed and trimmed
  • 1 quart cherry tomatoes (we used purple splash)
  • 1 quart pink eye field peas (any field pea or butter bean would work)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  1. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and sauté until just softened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the tomatoes and okra. Cook until tomatoes start to release their juices, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir well and add the fresh field peas and thyme.
  6. Reduce heat , cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until peas are just tender. If mixture becomes dry, add about a half cup of water and continue cooking.
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Roasted Okra

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When I say “okra”, people either respond positively or wrinkle up their faces and express their hate for “slimy” vegetables. Few people are undecided about okra. The funny thing is, when fried or roasted, okra has none of the viscous texture that it has when sautéed or stewed (I still like it that way, too, though!). We found that roasting okra in the oven makes for a crispy and delicious summer side dish that has the crunch of fried okra without the fat (or the mess). We have roasted okra as a french fry replacement with sandwiches and with grilled food. Here we are having it with BLT sandwiches with local bacon. All the yummy, salty crunch of fried food, but with fiber and vitamins, instead of fat. A summer win-win!

Roasted Okra (makes 3-4 side servings)

  • 1 quart of okra (younger, smaller pods will be more tender)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (optional).
  2. Trim the stem ends of the pods and wash the okra.
  3. Dry well with a tea towel and put the dry okra in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Add oil and salt to the bowl and toss so all the okra is coated.
  5. Spread okra across the baking sheet in one layer.
  6. Roast for 15 minutes. Stir okra. Roast for another 15 minutes or until okra is crispy and browned (your timing will depend on the size of the okra pods).
  7. Serve hot.
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