Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Curried Sweet Corn and Zucchini Succotash

My mother loves to buy lots of produce.  But she also despises wasted food.  I mean, hates it with a passion.  She follows recipes loosely, makes up her own, and always incorporates whatever she needs to use up in the fridge. 

That is why, other than the traditional foods that we enjoy in her house, we rarely eat the same meal twice.  Created on the spot out of the contents of her fridge, flavored by my mother's intuitive understanding of seasoning, her food is very much of-the-moment. 

Hope you enjoyed the meal, my mother teases us, because you'll never have this again. 

We whine.  Beg her to write it down.  But we know that it will never happen.  We might get another similar meal in the future, but never the same one twice.

This dish is in that vein, born from the same twin desires to stuff my house with the glories of early summer produce, but then to use it up and let none of it go to waste.  The difference is, I'm writing it down this time. 

The Evolution of the Dish

I had two very sweet cobs of corn, cooked a couple of days ago.  Who was going to eat those? I thought about cutting the corn off and sauteing it in butter.  But that wasn't nearly enough food for all of us, and I had all of this zucchini in the fridge . . . so this recipe was born.  It is an easy, one-skillet dish, full of veggie goodness, sweet and mildly spicy.  It tastes like summer.

My husband took a few bites of it out of the pan right when get got home from work and asked, can I eat the rest of this?  We both decided that this is the best way to enjoy sauteed zucchini, because it can be a little bitter sometimes and the texture soft.  The sweet, crisp crunch of the corn really nicely offsets the soft texture of the zucchini.  The curry seasoning blend has a little bite to it, but is mostly sweet and smokey and elevates any sauteed vegetable dish.  My mother, sister and I use this frequently for vegetable sides:  curried eggplant, zucchini, green beans. 

We served this alongside grilled fish, which made for a very memorable meal, but you can serve it as a warm side for any of your favorite summer recipes.  I think it would be great next to anything off of the grill, particularly chicken or salmon.   

Arabs and Curry

When you hear the word "curry," what comes to mind?  Probably the highly-spiced flavors of India food, with its rich sauces and spiced vegetables.  The word "curry" is actually an English word for a blend of spices, usually including dried chilies.  Curry blends vary significantly from region to region, each with its own distinct flavor, and can be found in traditional cuisines from Japan to north Africa. 

Since antiquity, Arab merchants were leaders in the spice trade and traveled over land with donkey and camel caravans to bring rich spices from India and beyond to sell to the Greeks.  This lucrative trade continued for hundreds of years, and expanded to the corners of the known world, both over land and water.  I think this rich history of spice trading is what has given the Arab palate such a taste for exotic spice blends. This curry blend is something that you can purchase at any spice market or grocery store in the West Bank.  It is very flavorful, friendly yellow (from the turmeric), a hint of sweetness (cinnamon and allspice), smokiness (cumin), and a little bite (cayenne).  It is a surprising but superb all-purpose seasoning, delicious on rice, white or sweet potatoes, fish, chicken, and on many vegetables.


Curried Sweet Corn and Zucchini Succotash

3 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 small onion, diced
5 medium zucchini, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Corn cut from two cobs, or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 1/2 tsp Middle Eastern curry powder
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

1.  In a large skillet, heat up your fat over high heat, and then add zucchini, curry powder, salt and pepper.  Saute until starting to caramelize and  brown, 5-8 minutes.

2.  Add onion, garlic and corn.  Continue to stir occasionally, adding more fat if necessary.  Check seasonings.  Saute until the vegetables are browned, but not mushy.

Middle Eastern Curry Powder

1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
Dash of cayenne pepper

Mix together and store in an airtight jar.

May this dish double your health.

Shared at Tasty Traditions, Thank Your Body Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Fight Back Friday, Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Real Food Wednesday, Party Wave Wednesday.


  1. I am totally the "sorry I can't give you the recipe" person because I don't cook the same thing twice. It's definitely a gift and a curse. =)

    1. I think great cooks often don't use cook books and follow their own understanding of the ingredients. And as long as their understanding is good, their food will be, too. It IS a gift!

  2. "Hope you enjoyed the meal, my mother teases us, because you'll never have this again."

    Oh, I love this! My mom (an American of Northern European extraction) says exactly the same thing when she puts together a mystery meal. Though she usually adds, "And if you don't like it, be glad, because you'll never have this again!" :)


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