Summer vegetable succotash is a dish based on the Native American companion planting idea of “The Three Sisters”. By the time the earliest settlers arrived in North America, some native tribes were relying on the combination of corn, beans and squash in the garden. These “three sisters” help each other in the garden-the corn provides a pole for the beans, the beans provide nitrogen to the soil, and the squash below provides an organic mulching system. As is often the case, things that grow well together in the garden also taste good together in the kitchen.
Summer is the perfect time of year to make an easy succotash. Fresh, sweet corn has hit the markets and is delicious and cheap right now. Summer squashes–zucchinis, pattypans and crooknecks are starting to take over the yard. Beans can be either fresh limas or cranberry beans or dried. If you see fresh shell beans, snatch them up. Fresh cranberry beans are one of my all-time favorite foods. To prepare them, shuck them and simmer them in water with half a bay leaf until they are tender about 40 minutes. Salt them when they are totally done cooking. Dried beans are really good too, especially if you can lay your hands on some Rancho Gordo beans (my favorites are the Good Mother Stallard, the Cranberry and the Yellow Indian Woman bean). Just cook the beans separately and then proceed with the recipe.
The final step to take this dish over the top is a liberal sprinkling of fresh herbs. I love summer savory, hyssop, basil, or thyme. This is a simple and delicious main course paired with a chunk of bread, a tomato salad and a cold glass of wine. It is great with fish, chicken or a grilled steak. Leftovers can go in omelets or tacos the next day. I would love to say that I improved this dish, or made it healthier, but it really is perfect just as is- just a simple, honest garden meal.
Summer vegetable succotash
- 2 cups summer squash, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cups sweet corn, cut off the cob
- 2 cups cooked shell beans, any kind
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh herbs – savory, hyssop, thyme or basil
- salt and pepper
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.
- Let the oil get hot (not smoking, but starting to ripple, then add the onions and squash.)
- Cook over high heat, tossing or gently stirring as needed until the squash and onions start to get some golden color and soften up about 5 minutes.
- Add the corn, decrease the heat to medium, and cook about 5 more minutes.
- Add the beans and heat through.
- Sprinkle with liberal amounts of fresh herbs, salt, and pepper.