By Sierra French Myerson
Lately, even breathing has been hard work and uncomfortable. The slightest movement adds to the sticky stress of the heat. I’m a native Angeleno, and yet, I still complain (and act surprised and overwhelmed) by the inevitable summer heat that strikes us every single year without fail. And, on top of being one of the weather whiners, I’m a hypocrite. I beg for all of the booty that the sun gods provide us, and then I carp about the seasonal circumstances that help to create the harvest. See, I’m a total produce whore. So, when the tomatoes, corn, peaches, and other summer goods start to show up at the farmer’s markets, I go crazy. They completely get me off. What?! I’m perpetually single. I have to have something to look forward to, and a perfect, sweet, and slightly ugly heirloom tomato is that for me. Come to think of it, that’s actually my ideal man-type too, just a bit taller than a tomato. Hmm, I wonder what that means?
Needless to say, when the time is right (and, I’m properly ill-at-ease walking around outside, let alone breathing), a huge bounty of fruit and veggie love accompany me home from the Sunday farmer’s market. Though they’re just for me, and any friends/family I might end up cooking for that week, I’m never worried my edible purchases will end up unused or buried in the trash. Before I can even think about all of the rousing things I want to create with my summer market loot, I’ve eaten a quarter of it on it’s own. A tomato sliced with a little Maldon salt, a cob of corn merely grilled or steamed, a peach...they do themselves justice. Therefore, their unadulterated beauty is two-fold to me, they are beyond delicious, and they don’t need much finessing, i.e. kitchen heat.
Turning the oven on in my un-a/c’d cottage-like apartment is a game-changer. Fan schman. The added heat makes the already motionless air come to a complete and hot standstill. The other day, I was longingly looking at my remaining week’s veggies. I was missing cooking and dying to eat them all at once. Mission accepted: use as many vegetables as I am inspired to use while cooking as little as possible. Corn, summer squash, heirloom tomatoes (duh!), red onion, garlic, basil…a “succotash” of sorts.
To all you food purists out there, I didn’t use lima beans, so I know I can’t officially call it a succotash. Regardless, it was simple, light, and so tasty. Good veg don’t lie.
Sweet Summer "Succotash"
My only footnote to this recipe would be to use whatever vegetables inspire you. Though, I do think corn is a perfect cornerstone. Also, I used it as side dish to breaded chicken but, I think it would make a killer pasta with orrechiette, or incorporated into a more substantial salad with arugula or a grain. Just go with it.
What you’ll need:
A good glug of extra virgin olive oil (approx. 1 Tb.)
½ a red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 ears of corn, shucked and cut of the cob
1 medium or 2 small summer squash (whichever kind you fancy), diced
1 medium heirloom tomato, large dice
2 pats of butter (approx. 2 Tb.)
A generous handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and black pepper, to taste
¼ tsp. red pepper chili flake (optional)
1 Tb. basil, torn
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Stirring frequently, cook for 8-10 minutes until onions are translucent.
Add red pepper chili flake, if using.
Add squash. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes until squash starts to cook through and soften.
Add corn. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add chopped heirloom tomato. Turn down heat to medium-low. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper.
Stir to incorporate all of the ingredients.
Add butter. Take off of the heat. Stir until butter is melted and makes a slight sauce.
Gently mix in cherry tomatoes and basil. Serve.
Makes 4 servings.