Succotash Pasta

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell
succotash pasta

Succotash Pasta is a classic dish with a modern twist at its best.

My college buddy Philip and I have been cooking together and talking about cooking for 30 years. He’s an inventive cook, always open to new ingredients and techniques, but with one foot firmly planted in his native Boones Mills, VA, soil. He never was an ingredient snob. Ever since I’ve known him, Philip has been dreaming up recipes combining world cuisines with his favorite childhood southern ingredients. Like that sweet and sour hominy made with ginger ale. It tasted remarkably like Chinese restaurant sweet and sour shrimp. Heck, we were munching on bright pink beet dip made with homegrown beets way before the latest crop of serious young chefs who throw around words like  “local roasted beets” were even born.

His mother taught him well. And me too. The Bernard family introduced me to all the stuff that’s so in now–vegetable and herb gardening, cooking from the garden and serious pickling like those delicious sun chokes.  Pretty much everything I know about southern home cooking began in Boones Mill. We ate like royalty on those cool autumn Saturday mornings when his folks would drive up to Blacksburg to tailgate before the Virginia Tech football games.  The cornucopia in the trunk was  impressive–pimiento cheese, chicken salad,  fresh tomato and basil sandwiches oozing with mayonnaise on white bread.

Here’s Philip’s Succotash Pasta. He and good old fordhooks go way back.

Succotash Pasta

1 box of pasta (I like penne, bow tie, shells)

1+ cup frozen Fordhooks

1 cup frozen corn

1 sweet bell pepper (I like the orange one) diced

1 clove garlic,  minced – – optional

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon  olive oil

Handful of chopped mixed herbs – – basil, thyme, rosemary, mint optional

Zest of one lemon, optional

1/4 cup heavy cream, optional

1/2 cup grated Parmesan, optional

Cook pasta in a big pot of salted water as usual. When pasta is about half done, stir in limas and corn. By the time water returns to boil and pasta is al dente the vegetables should be cooked as well. While cooking pasta, melt butter in a saute pan and add olive oil and garlic if desired. ( I don’t always want garlic for a weeknite dinner). Strain pasta mixture and put into a large bowl. Add butter and olive oil and toss. Salt and pepper to taste and that’s it for the basic recipe. Add optional ingredients as desired to jazz it up but the basic recipe is killer and easy.

A great accompaniment is garlic herb toast which can be made by increasing the butter and olive oil to 3 tablespoons each.  Heat the butter and olive oil, add garlic and herbs then take slices of Italian bread and dip into the mixture on one side, place on a cookie sheet, and toast until  golden. Then take leftover butter and herb mixture and make the pasta. Serve with a grilled caesar (sans croutons) and a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc

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