Let’s get fresh

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 7, 2000

Summer is officially here in the Miss-Lou and that means many lucky people are beginning to pick fresh produce from their gardens. Last week, my family was blessed with a big bag of fresh picked green beans with just-dug-up new potatoes from my father-in-law’s garden. Cooked just until tender, they were a hit for two days straight.

We have learned a lot about cooking vegetables here in the South. Most important, we learned that it is not necessary to cook them until they are mushy. Not only does this affect the taste it is detrimental to your nutritional value.

If you aren’t fortunate enough to have access to a garden you only have to look as far as the Farmers Market on Main Street. The produce there has proven to be reliable and reasonably priced. Try some of these new ways with you vegetables. I promise your family won’t even miss the bacon fat you used to cook them in.

Email newsletter signup

In this recipe the use of pecans would be considered a luxury up North. We here below the Mason-Dixon line believe in using them whenever possible.

Green Beans with Pecans

1 pound young green beans with ends snapped off

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup pecan halves

1/4 cup finely chopped white onion

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dash of cayenne pepper, optional

Plunge the beans into a large pot of rapidly boiling water and cook them, uncovered, until just tender, about three to five minutes. Taste them frequently and do not overcook. When they lose their raw flavor, immediately pour them into a colander to drain.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the pecans in the butter for five minutes, then add the onions and continue cooking for five minutes. Just before serving, add the beans. Season with the salt and pepper and if desired, the cayenne. Toss the beans, nuts and onions together well, turn off the heat, and cover for a moment to warm the beans through and blend the flavors.

Adapted from John Martin Taylor, Charleston, S.C.

The traditional way of cooking squash in a skillet with onions until it soft and (I think) squishy is a disservice to this delicious and versatile veggie. Give this one a try and there will soon be squash converts at your house.

Baked Stuffed Squash

6 small yellow squash

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup fine, dry bread crumbs

2 tablespoons minced onion

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon minced parsley

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Dash of thyme, fresh if possible

Drop the whole, unpeeled squashes in boiling salted water. Boil for about 10 minutes,or until tender but not soft. Remove from the heat, drain and let cool. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice a portion from the top and scoop out the pulp and seeds to make a cavity, reserving the pulp. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the remaining ingredients (except for the squash) to the butter. Stir until the bread crumbs are browned. Add the reserved chopped squash. Pack the mixture into the hollowed out squash. Place in a baking dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Adapted from &uot;A Gracious Plenty&uot;

Now that the medical world has told us how bad fried things are for us I had to come up with another way to eat green tomatoes. This recipe came to light after much searching and has proven to be with the trouble.

Green Tomato Casserole

Serves 4 to 6

2 1/2 pounds green tomatoes, cut in 1/2- to 1/4-inch slices

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon basil

1/4 thyme

Sprinkle of garlic powder

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons butter

Arrange tomato slices slightly overlapping in a lightly oiled flat casserole dish. Sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper. Lightly brown bread crumbs in butter and combine with the oregano, basil, thyme and a the garlic powder. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the tomatoes. Top with cheese and dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Be careful not to overbake this wonderful dish or the tomatoes will get limp. Serve hot.


In the North succotash refers to a dish of corn and lima beans. Not only is this dish tastier, it is certainly more colorful.

Southern Succotash

2 medium-sized onions, chopped

1 cup fresh corn kernels cut off the cob

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or bacon grease

4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped

1/4 pound fresh small okra pods with the ends cut off and

sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

Salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar

Place the onions and corn kernels in a heavy saucepan with the oil or bacon fat and saute them until the onions become translucent. Then add the tomatoes and the okra. Add water just until vegetables are barely covered. Season with the salt, black pepper and pinch of sugar, cook over low heat for one hour, adding more water only if necessary. Serve hot.

English peas are simply the one vegetable I usually don’t care for. Maybe that is because I had only tasted canned ones, and there is no comparison with these fresh ones. This recipe came from a friend of mine in Jackson and it taste like pure summertime.

Minted Spring Peas

3 cups freshly shelled green peas (this is about 2 1/2 pounds

in the pod)

2 sprigs fresh mint

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons butter

Place all the ingredients except the butter in a medium-sized saucepan with a small amount of water and cook over medium heat until the peas are tender, about five minutes. Drain off water, remove mint sprigs and toss the peas with the butter. Serve hot.

Adapted from Cherry Dean Fyke