Tuesday, July 30, 2013

One Great . . . succotash salad

What is a succotash, anyway? The Miriam-Webster definition is "lima or shell beans and kernels of green corn cooked together." The term apparently came from a Narragansett Indian word, msickquatash, that simply meant "boiled corn kernels."

With definitions that vague, I've always figured you can do pretty much anything you want, as long as you have some version of shell beans and some version of corn. You don't even have to serve it hot, do you?

At a farmer's market on Saturday, I spied a bag of those lovely, green cousins to lima beans, butter beans. Now, speaking of definitions, we could debate all day on the difference between limas and butterbeans. Personally, I think butterbeans are green, smaller and less starchy. I simmered them in a mix of half chicken broth and half water for about 45 minutes and had a nice summer side dish -- and a half-bowl left over. I also had a couple of extra ears of cooked sweet corn, and some very leafy celery.

What to do? For a weeknight side dish, I cut the kernels from the corn and stirred them into the cold butterbeans along with about a 1/4 cup of diced celery. Then I took some of the green celery leaves, sprinkled them with coarse salt and a little olive oil and minced them together into a paste. The leaves have a little bitterness that's a good counter to the sweetness of the corn and beans. After stirring it in, I added a little more olive oil and a squirt of a half-lemon to balance the flavors.

We ended up with a refreshing, chilled succotash salad. Nothing suffering about that.

Succotash Salad

About 2 cups cooked butterbeans (any other tender, cooked shell bean would work)
About 1 cup cooked sweet corn kernels
1/4 cup minced celery
2 tablespoons celery leaves (see note)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)

STIR together the beans, corn and celery in a serving bowl.
PLACE the celery leaves on a cutting board, sprinkle with the salt and add about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mince, sliding your knife blade over it, to create a herb paste.
STIR that into the vegetable mixture, then add about 1 tablespoon olive oil and the lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning.
NOTE: If you don't have celery leaves, you could do the same thing with arugula, or even fresh basil leaves.

YIELD: About 4 servings.