What do Native Americans, the Deep South, and corn have in common? (Hint: Pepper Place Market can help connect the dots). If you’ve ever been to Pepper Place Market on an early Saturday morning, you can probably identify with the rose-colored glasses influence it can have. There you are, a warm early morning breeze against your face, you have a head start on the world, and as you scan the crowd of cheerful locals gathering their bounty, you’re certain that the early bird has caught the worm. Suddenly you feel younger, more Zen, and at one with the granola folks. All of this just because local farmers are serving up their week’s worth of fresh harvest in all its beauty and glory for your choosing? In one word, the answer is yes.
This prolific produce brings out the fresh market chef in all of us. Generally, I leave the market with enough vegetables to feed a small country. I have grand intentions of cooking daily armed with these delicious veggies. Unfortunately by Tuesday, the workload has already begun to pile up and Bottega is calling my name. By Friday, I’m sure I have to find something fabulous to do with my crop before it becomes compost for the garden. This leads me back to the question at hand – what do Native Americans, the Deep South, and corn have in common? Well, Summer Succotash, of course! Corn was a principal food of the Native Americans and in the spirit of harvest, limas and other beans were added to create a simple dish we know as succotash. Today, we southerners can make a succotash out of most anything. Last week, Jason Mezrano, my son and executive chef of our family owned catering business, did just that. Starting with the base of corn and beans, we like to throw in tomatoes, red bell peppers, green onions, and okra. It makes a great side but can certainly hold its own as the main event. Check out how Jason kicked it up a notch with a Creole-style Succotash topped with a tasty Crawfish Cake, just perfect for a summer meal!