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Corn, Zucchini and Tomatoe Stew (with shell beans)

September 06, 2011 | Tags: Deborah Madison , Food , Fruit , Vegetables | Post comment

Corn, Zucchini and Tomatoe Stew (with shell beans)

This stew, made with yellow and orange tomatoes, ends up a sunny looking dish.  Of course, if your corn is white, your zucchini green, your tomatoes red, that’s fine, too.  Use what’s available, and there is a lot available right now. This little stew is as pleasant to eat at room temperature as it is warm. I serve it over seared squares of polenta, and it’s good with any grilled meat or shrimp.

The shell beans are extra. I mention them because now is when you’re likely to find them in the farmers market, but they do add an extra little step.  They also make a good combination with the corn in terms of making a complete protein. Skip them if you can’t find them or don’t have time but consider cooking a cup  or so of frozen beans (lima, black eyed pea, even edamame) and adding them at the end.

The picture shows black-eyed peas from my garden, red scallions and what’s called an Italian frying pepper. Like a bell pepper, it’s sweet, but the walls are much thinner.


1 cup fresh shelling beans (or canned beans, rinsed well)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons butter or olive oil or a mixture
1 bunch red or green scallions, or chopped onion to make about a cup
1 pound plus zucchini (about 3 cups when chopped)
4 ears sweet corn
3 yellow or red tomatoes, about 12 ounces
1 red pepper (or 3 frying peppers) sliced into ½-inch strips, veins and seeds removed
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
several sprigs green or purple basil
optional and fun:  small cherry tomatoes, such as Sun Golds, halved


1. Put the shelling beans or frozen beans, if using, in a skillet with a few of the scallion greens and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer partially covered, until tender. This could take as little as 20 minutes of the beans are very fresh and tender, or longer, so keep an eye on the pot and make sure there’s enough liquid.  

2.  Cut the scallions, including the firm greens, into 1/2-inch lengths.  Cut the zucchini into quarters or sixths lengthwise, then into a 1/3-inch dice.  Shuck the corn, then slice off the top 2/3 of the kernels with a sharp knife.  Don’t go too deep or you’ll get the fibrous parts that stick in your teeth.
2.  Peel and seed the tomatoes: mark an X on the base of each with a knife, drop them into boiling water for about 10 seconds, then remove. From where the X cut was made, the skins should easily peel back.  Gently squeeze the seeds and juice into a strainer placed over a bowl.  Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter (or oil) in a wide skillet over medium-high heat.  When bubbling, add the scallions and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add the squash, season with ½-teaspoon salt, and cook for several minutes until starting to brown in places, then add 1/2 cup water —it can be the water from the beans, if you used them. Lay the tomato pieces over the squash, add the strained juice, and cover with the corn and cooked shell beans.  Bury two large sprigs of the basil into the vegetables then cover the skillet.  Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until tender.

3. While the vegetable are cooking, melt 2 teaspoons of the butter or oil in a skillet.  Add the peppers and sauté over high heat until they begin to smell good and begin to soften and color in places, about 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and let it sizzle away while you move the peppers in the pan. Season with salt and pepper

4. When the stew is done, stir in the peppers. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Strew the halved cherry tomatoes over the top if using, and add fresh slivered basil and serve.

Serves 4