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Flexible side dish stars zucchini and corn

Recipe: Stir fry is a variation on succotash

Red bowl with vegetables
Fresh zucchini and corn get some pop from red onion, garlic and basil. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)
Into every vegetable gardener's life a little zucchini will appear. Or a lot. Even if you don't grow it, you wind up with it anyway -- hey, did someone leave that on the porch?
Zucchini bread, sure, is a great way to use it. (Have you tried making the blog's famous chocolate zucchini bread ?) And grilled, stuffed, etc., all have their place. But the search for more ways to use summer squash is a ubiquitous summer pursuit, so the side dish here is really handy. It also makes great use of fresh corn. Think of it as a modern take on succotash.
I came up with this a few years ago. It's a no-recipe recipe, in that the list of ingredients is just a suggestion. Vary it any way you like, with whatever you grow or find at the farmers market. But this particular version is really, really good.
Note: I included the green beans because I had them. Diced bell or hot pepper is another option. Lima beans aren't on my list of likes, but if fresh ones are available, try those, too.
Onion slice, zucchini, basil and ear of corn
Simple, fresh ingredients make this side dish a winner.

Zucchini-corn side dish
Serves 4 (easily doubled, or more)
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup diced red onion (from one large slice of of a large onion)
1 8-inch zucchini, trimmed, cut lengthwise into quarters and then sliced thin.
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ear fresh corn, kernels stripped off the cob
1/2 cup green beans, lightly steamed or blanched, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Handful of fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade or torn
Instructions :
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Cook the red onion for a minute or 2, stirring. Add the zucchini, continuing to stir for a minute or so, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
Vegetables in pan with spatula
Just a few minutes of stirring are needed.
Reduce heat to medium and add the garlic. After another minute, add the corn kernels, and the green beans, if using. The goal is texture like stir-fry, crisp-cooked without getting too brown.
Taste and adjust seasoning. Just before removing from heat, stir in the basil, saving a leaf or two for garnish. Serve alongside grilled meat and caprese salad.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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