Farm Stand Harvest

My oldest started kindergarten a couple weeks ago.  He’s done fantastically well, no tears at all, and comes home every day with a grin on his face.  After his first week, though, he did ask if he was done.  So we had the conversation about what the school year means vs. summer break, and “first kid school” {elementary school}, “second kid school” {middle school}, and third kid school {high school}, and then there’s even more school–“adult school” {college}, and then more adult school, for more specialty {graduate school}!  Yesterday my son said to me, “Mommy, when you grow up you’re going to be a cooker, right?  You love to cook.  Are you going to cooker school when you grow up?”

I just smiled and said, “Yup.”

You don’t need cooker school for this recipe–just a Farmer’s Stand–Run and get some corn, zucchini, and tomatoes, and you’re halfway there to making a fresh summer succotash!  The rest:  leftover rice, a can of cannellini beans, breadcrumbs…and you have a crispy rice cake to have with the succotash.

summer succotash with rice cakes 1

Chop up all your succotash ingredients about the same size and start sautéing,

summer succotash with rice cakes 2

summer succotash with rice cakes 3Add chopped tomatoes and parsley for a little freshness,

summer succotash with rice cakes 4Pan-fry your rice cakes, and voilá!

summer succotash with rice cakes 6 summersuccotashwithricecakes


RICE CAKES WITH SUMMER SUCCOTASH

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy, but there are two different components you have to keep and eye on
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INGREDIENTS FOR THE SUCCOTASH

  • 4 ears fresh corn, shucked and kernels cut off into a bowl
  • 2 small to medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons butter

INGREDIENTS FOR THE RICE CAKES

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS

  1. Start with forming the rice cakes.  Prepare two shallow bowls, one with  2 eggs, beaten, and the other bowl with the breadcrumbs.  Place a sheet of parchment paper on your work counter to place the rice cakes on to rest.
  2. Mix the rice, 1 cup of corn, the other beaten egg, and salt and pepper to taste in a mixing bowl.  Divide the rice mixture into 4 or 6 equal balls, and press each ball firmly together.  Gently flatten to form a patty.  First cover the rice cake with egg, and then pass to the breadcrumb bowl and cover both sides.  Lay on the parchment paper to rest.
  3. Prepare the succotash:  Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium high heat.  Add the remaining corn, zucchini, onion, and beans, and salt and pepper to taste.  Sauce until the onion is translucent, and the other vegetables are crisp tender, about 7-10 minutes.
  4. Add the water, tomatoes, and parsley and let simmer until the broth has reduced by half.  Reduce heat to low, add butter and stir until a thin sauce develops.  Let the succotash stay warm on low heat while pan frying the rice cakes.
  5. To pan-fry the rice cakes, coat another sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium.  Add the rice cakes, 2-3 at a time, and fry on each side until golden brown.  To serve, place a rice cake on the plate and top with a few spoonfuls of the succotash.

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Dreamy Polenta

Growing up I called my mom’s friends by their first names, with the addition of the Southern conventional title of respect, Mr. or Miss.  To this day, in my mid-30’s, I still think of my mom’s friends as “Miss Irene and Mr. Joe”; “Miss Trina and Mr. Stuart.”  My brothers and I called our stepdad “Mr. Bob”, simply because that’s how my mom introduced us to him, and the name stuck, even during their marriage.

Mr. Bob loved grits for breakfast.  Cooked smooth and creamy with a dollop of butter on top.  I didn’t realize until I was older that polenta is just a fancy name for grits.  It’s all stone-ground cornmeal, whether white cornmeal or yellow.  Although I remember Mr. Bob’s grits were always white, while all polenta meals I’ve made and eaten have been made with yellow cornmeal.

This polenta meal I dreamed about.  Literally.  It was the middle of winter, and I guess my subconscious wanted summertime because I dreamed of creamy polenta topped with grilled vegetables.  Here’s what my summertime grill prep looks like:

summer grilled vegetables and creamy polenta 1

Super easy: chop the veggies in large chunks, skewer the onions so they don’t get all wiley on you and fall through the grill grates, olive oil, s+p, and lemon zest.  While the veggies are grilling, cook up the polenta, and then serve family style.

summer vegetables and creamy polenta 3

My husband doesn’t mind sharing a plate with me…and I love eating family style mainly because it means less dishes.  Doing dishes is not so dreamy.

summer vegetables and creamy polenta 4

summer grilled vegetables and creamy polenta


SUMMER GRILLED VEGETABLES WITH CREAMY POLENTA

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2-3 medium zucchini, cut into thirds
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion, cut into large chunks
  • 8-10 mini sweet peppers
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • fresh chopped basil for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Make the polenta according to package directions.  The key to creamy polenta is to really follow the directions and let it cook for a full 30 minutes while stirring!
  2. Prep your grill and allow appropriate time to get sizzling hot.
  3. Prep the veggies:  Place in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, s+p, and lemon zest.
  4. Grill the veggies, turning occasionally, until yummily charred and cooked.
  5. To serve, divide the polenta evenly among plates, top with an assortment of grilled veggies, sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and basil.  Alternately, serve family style, piling the polenta and grilled veggies on one large plate.

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