Corn, squash, and beans are ideal companions in both garden and kitchen.
By Annemarie Ahern
One of the earliest lessons I learned about growing food is a basic principle of sustainable agriculture — planting to encourage a mutually beneficial relationship of crops, in contrast to the row planting of traditional farming. A fine example is “the three sisters” technique, a Native American method for growing corn, squash, and beans. The corn offers a structure for the beans to climb, and the squash vines and blossoms creep and crawl, providing shelter for the roots of the corn and beans. Even better, come harvest time, this beautifully cooperative design provides the ingredients for summer succotash.
Summer Succotash with Soft Herbs
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 diced red onion
3 ears fresh corn, kernels cut from cob
3 summer squash or zucchini cut into ¼-inch rounds
freshly ground black pepper
2 big handfuls arugula
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
3 sprigs tarragon, leaves picked from stems
6 sprigs parsley, leaves removed from stems and roughly chopped
1 handful fresh chives, minced
Fill a medium saucepan with heavily salted water and bring to a boil. Place shelled beans or filet beans in the water and cook until tender, no more than
4 minutes. Prepare an ice bath, and with a slotted spoon, move the beans to the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once cool, drain and reserve beans.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, red onion, and a pinch of salt and sauté about 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the corn and a touch more salt and sauté until tender, about
5 minutes, giving the kernals a couple of flips in the pan. Move corn and onions to a big wooden bowl. Add another
2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan, still over medium heat. Place the squash into the pan in one layer, sprinkle with another pinch of salt, and sauté in batches until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer squash rounds to the succotash bowl.
To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the arugula, cherry tomatoes, and herbs to the succotash bowl and toss with the dressing. Serve alone or with a grilled piece of fish on top for a more substantial meal.
Photographed by Mark Fleming.