My mother is obsessed with beans. That’s probably where I caught the bug! When I was a kid she prided herself making soups with beans. And when I say beans, she liked to use as many kinds as possible. The more the variety the better, and if she could get up to 5 or 6 different types, she was in bean heaven. This is no joke! Our kitchen cabinets were filled with chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, black eye, Great Northern and kidney beans.
My Mom’s name is Jean and one Christmas I found the perfect gift for her. It was a cookbook called “Jean’s Beans.” Imagine the joy in my heart as I handed her a tome dedicated to the food closest to her heart. She cooked from that book for months- from the front cover to the back- using all of the beans that crowded her cabinets.
As you can imagine, beans were an early fixture on our kitchen table growing up. When all the other kids grumbled at the thought of eating a lima bean, I thought beans were the way to go! In the summer, Mom was making succotash with freshly shucked Butter Beans and Sugar Corn from her garden.
Fresh shelling beans are much easier to cook than dry beans. There’s no soaking! All you have to do is put the shelled beans in a saucepan with plenty of water and simmer until tender. In most cases, they’re done in about 20 minutes.
One of my favorite ways to eat them is simply warmed with your best virgin olive oil and kosher salt. Or if you’re feeling ambitious, you might also want to pay tribute to my Mom and make this delicious Summer Succotash Salad...
|Erin Kunkel Photography|
SUMMER SUCCOTASH SALAD
3 ears fresh sweet corn on the cob, halved
1 cup fesh shelling beans
1 pound green string and/or yellow wax beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 medium red bell pepper, ½-inch dice
1 medium zucchini, ½-inch dice
½ red onion, ½-inch dice
2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons torn basil leaves
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the corn and simmer, until the kernels turn slightly darker yellow, 5 to 6 minutes. With tongs, remove the corn from the water and let cool. Cut the kernels of corn off the cob. Discard the cobs and reserve the kernels.
Bring the saucepan of water to a boil again. Add the fresh shelling beans and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool.
Bring the same saucepan of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and simmer the string or wax beans and simmer until almost tender but still very crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the zucchini and simmer 2 additional minutes. Drain and cool.
Place the shelling beans, string beans, corn, peppers, zucchini and red onion in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and canola oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the dressing and basil to the bean and corn mixture and stir together. Place the salad in a large serving bowl and serve.
Joanne Weir's Cooking Confidence, Dinner Made Simple (Taunton Press, 2012)