Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sylvester's Sufferin' Succotash!

As a child of the 1960's, it's hard to imagine Saturday mornings without cartoons.  To this day I still wish I could turn on the TV Saturday mornings and watch Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and Bullwinkle and Rocky till I decide to haul my sorry butt out of bed. 

From these characters we took sayings into our everyday conversation such as "exit, stage left!" and "what's up, doc" and, of course, "sufferin' succotash" from Sylvester "Puddy tat" fame.   Kids today are bombarded by animation that's just plain not funny (my humble opinion, of course), or live action sit-coms that are demeaning to most of the characters, or programs aimed at learning.  All of which is fine, but where are the classic cartoons that were out there just for the fun of them? 

This past week my CSA share held a couple more zucchini and summer squash than I knew quite how to handle, plus I'd stopped by to pick up a few fresh ears of corn from Treehouse Organics and still had an ear and a half to use up.  The result is that my fridge is overflowing with beautiful summer bounty.

Interestingly enough, I'm not usually certain how best to deal with fresh foods - produce in particular.  I get caught up in marinating, saucing, and in general tweeking with foods that I seem to have lost sight - or rather more to the point, lost TASTE with my food.  When so much happens to fresh food once it hits the kitchen that it no longer tastes like itself, it's time to step back and find out how to get back to simpler fare.

This week I picked up a book at the library by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse called "The Art of Simple Food".  Ms. Waters has long been a proponent of sourcing local, sustainable foods and has written several cookbooks filled with wonderful recipes.  In this book, she attempts to take us on a journey of rediscovery.  Plain foods prepared simply, more in tune with how our grandmothers would have fixed dinner while at the same time expanding our horizons to include more herbs and spicing that are available today in our local markets. 

So today when I got home and was confronted by the copious squash and corn on my counter, I decided to make a simple vegetarian dinner based upon summer succotash. 

Succotash in its basest best is corn and lima beans mixed together, sometimes with a sauce, sometimes without.  Variations on the theme are popular and I've even seen it with a heavy cream sauce and baked in a casserole.  For me, succotash is wonderful in any iteration and once you get the basics in place you can riff with it like a good jazz musician to make it personal and to your own liking.

Ms. Waters has a recipe that I took as the basis of my rendition and it made a really easy, really delicious, and really filling dinner.  It struck me as I was eating that it would be simple to add a bit of leftover salmon to this that was hanging around the fridge, but I decided meatless was the way to go (well nearly meatless) for today.  Next time I have the salmon I'll try this again and mix them, I bet it will be terrific.

Beautiful fresh ingredients
Sufferin' Summer Succotash

2 teaspoons butter or bacon grease (I used the bacon fat, it's wonderful with corn)
1 chopped green onion
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 ear of corn, uncooked, cut off the cob
1/2 cup chopped summer squash (green zucchini was pretty in this because of its color)
1/2 cup frozen lima beans (fresh if you have them), pre-cooked
6-7 cherry tomatoes, halved
3 basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

In a heavy non-stick skillet, melt the butter or bacon fat over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute lightly. 

Add the zucchini to the pan and let cook through till just tender.  Add the corn to the pan and saute, stirring often, to cook the corn and get a slight brown on the kernels - 5-8 minutes. 

Add the lima beans and tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes begin to release their juices.  Add the basil, parsley, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine and heat through and serve immediately. 
Sufferin' Summer Succotash!

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