Two summer salad recipes from the Mississippi delta | Cook residency
Deep South recipes: The wilderness is never far away in the Mississippi delta, a treasure trove of fresh create such as the three sisters: corn, beans and squash. Together they make for this duo of summertime salads …
My family always grew a few rows of vegetables behind our Mississippi home. Each springtime we would plant heirloom tomatoes, purple eggplant, butter beans, green okra, pole( runner) beans, sweet bicolour sweetcorn, crookneck squash and at least one row of watermelon. Now, we also have peach and plum trees, and blueberry shrubs. Wild blackberries can be found near the leading edge of the property along the creek. And the two acres of backyard are almost entirely dappled with shade from the pecan trees.
The Delta National Forest stretches out from our property line, where cotton rows turn into ancient oaks and cypress. Wild pigs roam freely, rooting up palmetto for daytime snacks and unleashing havoc on new harvests in the field under the cover-up of darkness. There are white-tailed deer, turkeys, the occasional squirrel, and the even more rare black bear( its illegal to hunt them now, but there was a period when Teddy Roosevelt did so in the area where Im from ).
Civilisation and wilderness live side-by-side in the Mississippi delta. In some styles they are inextricable. We take what we can from the wild in order to survive; and we took our cue from the people who lived there before us. The influence of the native American tribes of Mississippi cannot be overlooked. The mystique of a former culture persists throughout the state, from the Natchez Trace trail and the burial mounds to the occasional thrill of procuring an arrowhead in old fields. Theyve taught us how to live off the land, as foragers, hunters, and farmers.
The Choctaw, Yazoo, Biloxi, Houma and so many other tribes all farmed here. From an early age, southerners learn about their primary planting technique which blended corn, squash and beans known collectively as the three sisters. The Native American legend behind this association is that these three were inseparable siblings who can only grow and prosper together. The practical science behind it devotes credit to its practitioners: the corn provides support for the beans to grow upwards while the squash inhibits weed growth and helps to prevent evaporation from the soil. The beans fix nitrogen into the soil through their roots, boosting its fertility for future years seeds.
Summer squash, or yellow courgette as its known in the UK, is a staple in the southern kitchen. Simply treated to bring out the flavor of the squash, we stew it with thinly sliced onions and thyme in a light pork stock, or blitz it with thick buttermilk and cayenne pepper for a silky, chilled soup. Any southern harvest festival should include succotash, a dish that is the perfect festivity of the three sisters on one plate. We pay tribute to these native cultures each year by eating this dish during the annual corn harvest.
The type of beans you choose to use in your succotash is not important. Choose beans that are readily available and to your savors. Feel free to mix and match. The recipe below is vegetarian, but you can stimulate your succotash more substantial by adding rendered smoked bacon, poached lobster, crab or scallop meat. Generally, in the US, the more yellow the corn the starchier it will be. For best outcomes, always select the sweetest assortments of corn.
Squash is fantastic raw. Here, the second recipe employs a technique of brining thin strips of it as a preseasoning. I usually make a doubled batch of the pumpkin seed pesto to keep as a snack in the refrigerator. Youll find yourself spreading it on everything.