I haven't spent nearly as much time in the kitchen this summer as I'd hoped. That sounds awfully backwards given that this summer was one of the hottest to date and no person in their right mind would want to spend it next to the hot stove, but I can't help but feel I missed something along the way.
Perhaps it was the adjustment of married life that swallowed up the time, or that our house insisted on being an absolute nuisance more often than not, or that I found myself slurping up bowls of cereal for dinner (save for the tomato + fried bread which was positively divine) while my darling husband was out policing the streets, but I have that sort of hollow feeling in my belly. Do you ever get that? That strange sensation that you've forgotten something? I think, for me, it was the kitchen.
Now I know I must sound awfully melancholy and you might be thinking, "C'mon, Britt! You've still got a good chunk of summer left! Think of the tomatoes! The pie! Think of Arnold Palmer!" And oh, I suppose you might be right. But now that I am scheduled for a return to graduate school (I do hope I am not completely rusty after a semester's vacation), there's that sinking feeling floating just below my ribcage. I miss my free time already. I ought to buck up, really, I should. It's just that I spent the first half of my summer battling with that same graduate school after I ended up with a professor whose vacation was interrupted by his obligation to teach the class. Honestly.
It's possible you're wondering what on earth any of that has to do with succotash. You might even be sitting there, jaw squared and lip nearly curled, thinking of how much you hate succotash. The first time I ever had succotash, it was at an old boyfriend's grandmother's house for dinner. She made Swiss steak, mashed potatoes and succotash - better known as a humble mixture of corn and lima beans. I didn't see the hype at first, but with a little salt and a nub of sweet butter, it wasn't so bad.
But this is hardly succotash at all. It starts with a bit of bacon (or country ham in our case), then you toss in a few handful of juicy tomatoes, garlic, and onion right into the bacon fat. It will sizzle and pop and hiss for a moment or two and while you listen, you can spend a few moments cleaning up the rogue corn kernels that have bounced all over your floor like pearls from a broken necklace.
Once all the vegetables are cooked but still a bit toothsome, you mix in a good bunch of arugula and fresh basil, perhaps a cup of brown rice or chewy farro to round it out (one! bowl! meal!). We ate on the back porch with a tall glass of sweet tea and a fluffy cloud of Parmesan cheese while the sun sank down. And that's what I'll miss about the summer: No lingering thoughts of homework to be done, the clinking of silverware against a bowl on the porch, a bottomless pitcher of iced tea, and perhaps even a bowl of this succotash.
Adapted from Gourmet.