Succotash Salad — A New Classic

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Okra! We’ve never grown okra before and it’s just an amazing thing. The plants are tall with these fabulous yellow flowers. Everyday we go out and harvest a dozen or so okra pods. The deer don’t want them, the squirrels seem disenchanted too; should that be a hint?  My husband thinks so, but I think they are delicious. The problem is there is only so much fried okra a gal should eat, and I don’t love them boiled. My vegetable eating son and I tried blackening the okra quickly in a hot skillet. Delicious!! 

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There was another fun way to use the almost daily crop. Pondering okra made me think of a favorite recipe we enjoy all winter - succotash (blog post), but it’s just too hot to either cook or eat succotash in the middle of a scorching Nashville July.  Then suddenly it hit me – succotash as a salad!!  

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I had some of the ingredients in the garden and the rest are summer staples! The vegetable markets all over town always have beautiful fresh corn and, if not butter beans, then lady peas or something else that will work.  After that it is a snap to put together probably one of the prettiest and most unique summer salads ever. You could dress this salad with any basic vinaigrette, but the bright flavors of a lemon flavored balsamic vinegar mixed with olive oil and a little garlic was the perfect dressing to shake up in a jar. The salad base can be any green you like, romaine lettuce, spinach, baby greens, but I had arugula in the garden and with this heat it’s going to seed fast, so why not use it while it’s good? After the greens, just the basic succotash ingredients are perfect; red onion, cherry tomatoes, a handful of cooked butter beans and some corn. Of course the okra is the star of the dish. 

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Blackening the okra is a synch.  Add water to a small skillet, the same one you’ll use to blacken the okra, bring it to a boil and drop in the okra for one minute. That just softens it up a little. Remove okra and dry the skillet before heating a little olive oil and adding the okra back into the skillet. We have a seasoning spice we always keep mixed in a jar ready to use (blog) but any barbeque dry rub or blackening seasoning will work. Just shake a bit on the okra and let it get some blackened edges. There, now you’ve got your salad! Add dressing and if you feel inspired, a couple of shavings of Parmesan cheese and it’s salad perfection. All you need is a nice piece of grilled something - steak, chicken, fish – after all it is summer and the grill calls out. Or you know what – just enjoy the salad all by itself. This is delicious, it’s beautiful, and it’s different from your everyday summer salad. Even my husband thought it looked good enough to eat  (I saw –it – he avoided all contact with okra, but would have liked it if he had tried.) Throw this together and you just might just be able make an okra lover out of a skeptic.  And if you are an okra lover already then this will take you over the top! Now on to okra pickles…..

Summertime Succotash Salad

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Ingredients

¼ lb fresh okra, 12 to 15 pods

1 cup butterbeans or lady peas, cooked

1 ear of corn, cooked and kernals removed

1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced

½ small red onion sliced

1 bunch arugula or other lettuce

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tb blackening seasoning

Dressing

3 Tbsp balsamic or lemon balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic finely chopped or pressed

1 tsp each, salt, pepper, sugar

Shake it all up in a jar. Extra dressing will keep in the refrigerator.

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Optional: Parmesan Shavings to top.

Directions

Line a serving plate with arugula or lettuce.

Top with butterbeans, corn, cherry tomatoes, and onion.

In a small skillet, that can also be used to blacken okra, bring about one inch of water to a boil.

Add okra and boil for one minute.

Remove okra, rinse under cold water, and cut each pod in half length-wise.

Wipe skillet dry and return it to the stove.

Heat olive oil in the skillet over high heat and add okra.

Add the seasoning and cook until slightly browned - 2 to 3 minutes.

Top salad with okra, add dressing and Parmesan cheese if desired. Enjoy!

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