Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hardly Sufferin' Succotash

Zucchini is still looking good at markets and if you haven’t had the pure foods experience of one cooked whole, your will be delighted by the stepped-up flavor. Zucchini is a water-rich vegetable and while it stands up well to grilling, weeps out a bit when sliced and sautéed. Steaming the whole vegetable results in a firmer texture with more depth.

Look for small to medium sized squash that will fit inside a large skillet or pot.  Wash them in cool running water, using a good shake of salt to gently scrub away any dirt without damaging the delicate skin.  Next place a steaming basket in a large skillet with a lid and fill the skillet with water no higher than the basket’s bottom.  Cover and steam the zucchini 6-8 minutes until the vegetable yields easily to a knife or skewer.  Zucchini are now ready for a few nice side dishes and snacks.  Slice and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil to serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for a few days for an instant snack or salad ingredient.

Edamame Succotash combines steamed zucchini, corn and edamame in a light sauce.  Serve it over polenta squares or with pork, chicken and fish dishes.  I substitute edamame, shelled green soy beans, for  the lima beans often used in succotash. The dish gets a velvety texture from a bit of light cream.  One great bonus of eating pure foods is that you can include luxurious ingredients without guilt.  (You haven’t been eating processed junk today, have you?)  Do not on any account substitute altered milk products like the oxymoronic fat-free half-n-half.  You are introducing too many additives to create the desired viscosity.  If you cannot bring yourself to add light cream yet, keep your ingredients pure with plain low-fat milk and a teaspoon of corn starch mixed in before adding it do the skillet.

Edamame Succotash
2 medium zucchini, steamed and sliced
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 cup frozen edamame (shelled)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 /4 cup light cream

In a large skillet over hight heat, combine corn, edamame and 1/4 cup water.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to medium and cook 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender.  Drain any excess water, lower heat to simmer and add butter with sliced zucchini. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  When all the vegetables are heated through, turn heat to medium and add cream.  Stir gently to combine and allow sauce to bubble and thicken a bit.  Serve immediately.
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If you are tempted by junk foods as the sun sets and dinner seems too far away, substitute the chips, bars and cookies with steamed zucchini slices dipped in a herb-yogurt blend.  A late afternoon snack or appetizer that combines a good carb and some dairy can help transition you out of a late day low. You can bring this to work to help fend off the attack of the vending machine. 

Zucchini Appetizer
1 medium steamed zucchini
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon each: dried thyme, dill, chives
squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper

Sliced zucchini lengthwise, then in half.  Cut halves into finger-sized slices.  Combine yogurt and remaining ingredients.  Serve zucchini with dip on the side.  Letting the yogurt sit a bit will allow the dried herbs to re-hydrate into the yogurt base.