Succotash Dinner

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This recipe is my take on Cooking Light’s Edamame Succotash. It’s one of those simple recipes that value whole foods, and it looks as if can be adapted liberally to suit a wide array of preferences. I prefer lima beans to edamame. While canned lima beans are infamous for adding a bitter note to mixed vegetables, the dry and frozen forms have a neutral flavor and smooth texture that yields well to seasoning.

I should mention why I decided to blog about what I’m cooking. I have a tendency to make a dish differently over time based on the contents of my fridge and pantry. My husband suggested that I start making notes of how I’d made a dish a particular time it turned out well. For someone as disorganized as I am, a blog is an ideal place to record recipes.

Writing about cooking also honors a task that it is vital yet so undervalued among tasks done day to day. When there is no record in writing or photos to show what I’ve done in the kitchen, it is all too tempting to strip meaning and purpose from all the time I devote to this kind of work. When I click through my recipes here, I am reminded that my time has value, and time spent on cooking is not wasted.

By the way, ham isn’t necessary to this finished dish. It could taste intriguing with a pound of shrimp or chicken instead. The beans provide a decent amount of protein, so the meat can be omitted entirely to create a vegetarian main as well.

Succotash Dinner

8 servings

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

3 shallots, finely chopped

8 oz white mushrooms, sliced

1 T salted butter

1 T olive oil

1/2 t black pepper

1/4 t salt

2 cups frozen corn, thawed

1 lb frozen lima beans, thawed

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

2 T white vinegar

1 t dried thyme (or 1 T fresh thyme)

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley

1 lb cubed ham

1 large fresh tomato, diced

Hot cooked jasmine rice, for serving

Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, shallots, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, until onions are transculent. Stir in corn and let sit for a minute or two over the heat so the corn browns just a little. Pour in stock, add bay leaf, and sprinkle in thyme. Add lima beans, turn down heat to medium and let the mixture simmer for ten minutes. Stir in ham and vinegar and heat five minutes more. Remove bay leaf, sprinkle parsley and tomatoes over all, and serve over rice.

Dinner Rut

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A frequent visitor to my dinner table: pork tenderloin, rice and beans

There is a stack of cooking magazines in my kitchen. My phone and computer are loaded with recipe bookmarks. I love to read about food, especially researching the food I am eating at that moment. If I am eating beans, I want to learn more about beans and see if anyone has crafted a novel, fresh recipe featuring that ingredient. As I eat a food, I also like to get reacquainted with data on that item’s vitamins, minerals, etc. This tandem reading and eating (a habit I can’t fully indulge unless I am eating by myself, lest I appear rude to my dining companions) enhances both the intellectual and sensory experience of eating.

Why is it that I have no shortage of inspiration available to me, yet I keep making many of the same dinners time and again? I know that I would be better off in trying new techniques, different ingredients, etc. A broad palate is a wise strategy for health as well. In eating a wide variety of foods (especially produce), there is a greater opportunity for getting all the nutrients one needs.

Still I fall into a dinner rut. Periodically, I’ll venture into something different that becomes part of my regular playlist. A couple years ago, I bought a pork tenderloin on a whim, and I’ve been roasting one a month (or more) ever since. They are tender, low in fat and hard to mess up. There’s plenty of pre-marinated ones in the grocery store and even more recipes online for marinade if one prefers the DIY approach.

As side dishes, I’ll choose a rice dish and some beans. This evening I paired the tenderloin with rice pilaf and lima beans. I think that toasting the rice and orzo to a golden brown really deepens the richness of a pilaf. I’ve also found that simmering lima beans in low sodium broth brightens their flavor and cuts away their bitterness.

This is an easy dinner I can multitask with chores like laundry. By the time I had the dishes finished at 6:15, my evening was wide open. There was nothing left I absolutely had to get done before bedtime.

That’s what I want from a new dinner recipe worth repeating: ease, great taste, nutrition . . . . and an evening full only of the things I really want to do, by myself or with my family.