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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Summer Corn and Black Bean Salad

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When summer starts blazing with heat and humidity, I usually lose my desire to cook anything complicated. I love cold vegetable salads in the summer–their fresh flavors add a a lot to grilled foods and if you add some protein (like sustainably caught tuna), you can turn a side dish into an entrée in a snap!

I found a corn salad recipe on Pinterest recently, and it looked promising. The photos were artful and lovely and the description sounded very tasty. I made it according to the directions, and not only was it not tasty, it didn’t look anything like the photo. Grrr. This made me wonder if anyone had actually made the recipe or if they were just re-pinning a bit of food porn. Pinterest is weird like that. Also, what is up with all the processed food recipes calling themselves “Amish” recipes? Pretty sure Amish people don’t eat cheese spread and Nutella. Just sayin’.

Once I found myself with a sub-par recipe, I re-assessed the situation, and came up with a plan to fix the salad. This is what I ended up with. The photo may not be beautiful, but the flavors are, and I vouch for the recipe because I actually did make it and eat it myself!

To update you, I finished my first 10K race, the Athleta Esprit de She, in the blazing heat and had such a great time, even if my time wasn’t great. It was wonderful to run with a group of women–what terrific, positive energy! I met some wonderful people, including a lovely lady named Pam, who encouraged me to run the Disney races. At 59, she has been running for 3 years, and has finished 8 half marathons with her daughter. Her blog, We Run Disney, is HERE if you want to check it out! As I close in on 50, I have been really giving a lot of thought to what I want to accomplish before that milestone. Pam was so friendly and encouraging, that I emailed her for more info. and now, I have set a new goal–Tom and I are going to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February 2014! Yes, yes, you wonder how Tom qualifies as a “princess”. Turns out, princes can run with a qualifying princess, so now our decision is what kind of matching costumes to wear (Tom would vote for “no costume,” but what fun is that?). And at some point soon, we will start training. Fun!

Salads like this will help us train in the sweltering months ahead! You can make this full recipe or divide everything in half for a smaller amount. Either way, it’s all good!

Summer Corn and Black Bean Salad (makes about 8 servings)

  • 4 ears of organic corn
  • 2 cans organic black beans
  • 1 pint organic cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped chili peppers (I used 1/2 can of roasted Hatch New Mexican peppers)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook corn in your preferred method. I leave the cobs wrapped in the husks, cut the bottom inch off and microwave the cobs two at a time for 3 minutes. Let the cobs cool a bit, then grab the tops of the husk and silk and push the cob out the bottom. You should end up with one naked cob and a handful of husk and silk.
  2. Using a sharp knife or a scraper, remove the corn kernels from the cobs and put in a bowl.
  3. Drain and rinse the black beans and add to the bowl.
  4. Wash and halve the tomatoes. Add to the bowl.
  5. Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pour over the vegetables and mix well.
  6. Cut up the avocado (or mash like guacamole) and fold into the vegetable mixture.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  8. Serve chilled.
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