Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Herbed Farro Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette

It’s still summer, but the hope of fall is in the air. We are still in the cold salad territory, but moving into something heartier. I love this robust grain salad – it’s a change up from a standard pasta salad, but the addition of fresh herbs and cucumbers freshens things up and it makes the most of the end of tomato season with bright baby tomatoes and a tangy fresh tomato vinaigrette. If you haven’t experimented with farro yet, you should give it a try. It’s a healthy whole grain wheat with a slightly nutty, toasty flavor and a substantial texture and bite. I love it in soup, but is so fabulous in this tabbouleh-inspired salad because it beautifully absorbs the dressing. It’s the perfect picnic or grilling side, but is substantial enough to be the main course.

I say here to use a cup of cherry tomatoes, but it can be a little tough to judge. When I find little bitty tomatoes at the farmers market I love their cuteness and usually just cut them in half. Large tomatoes I quarter, but if all you can find in season is large tomatoes, seed them and chop them well. Reserve some of the dressing to stir through right through right before serving – the grain will absorb a lot of it while refrigerated. I also like to chop the cucumber into quite small pieces so every bite of salad has a bite.

Herbed Farro Salad with Fresh Tomato Vinaigrette

1 ½ cups farro

3 cups vegetable stock

1 lemon, zested and juiced, divided

2 teaspoons of kosher salt

1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

½ cup mint leaves

½ cup Italian parsley leaves

¼ cup cilantro leaves

3 green onions

½ seedless cucumber

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 tomato, about 8 ounces

¼ cup white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

½ teaspoon salt

Generous grinds of black pepper

¼ cup olive oil

Place the farro in a strainer and rinse well with cool water. Place it in a pot with the vegetable stock, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the grains are tender, but still have a little chew. Drain the farro through the strainer and rinse with cool water. Leave to drain, then transfer to a large bowl. Pour over 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and add the zest and stir to coat. Add the chickpeas and stir to combine.

Finely chop all the herbs and add to the farro. Chop the cucumber into very small pieces, add to the bowl, then chop the green onions finely and add. Half or quarter the cherry tomatoes and stir to combine everything well.

Cut the tomato in half and remove the core and seeds. Place in the carafe of a blender, add the vinegar, honey, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, honey salt and pepper and blend until completely pureed. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until blended and smooth. Pour about ¾ of the dressing over the salad and stir to coat. Reserve the rest of the dressing in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and refrigerate the salad and remaining dressing for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, you can add some extra dressing if you feel it is needed and season with a little salt if you like.

Serves 6

Roasted Summer Succotash

Recipe ideas come to me everywhere, this one came to me after I saw roasted lima beans on a menu, I think something I saw online, because it’s not something I ate. The description made me wonder exactly what the result would be – raosting bean? Then I remembered a Greek-style roasted dish using gigante beans and tomatoes, and my mind immediately went to butter beans, which lead to succotash. Corn and butter beans are one of the great pleasures of summer. They pair beautifully together and look like a lovely dose of bright summer. And succotash is just too fun to say. I’ve visited the idea before with my Succotash Salad, which is sort of the opposite of a this dish – the cold version as opposed to this richly roasted iteration. I’ve even changed the idea up with Sunshine Succotash, a yellow-toned dish bursting with sunshine.

Roasting any vegetable really concentrates the flavors and brings out the sweetness and that is absolutely true with this dish. The butter beans are juicy and tender, the corn sweet and crisp and the tomatoes bring the whole together. A bonus with the recipe is that it makes a big dish of summer goodness that can sit happily in the oven while you get on with any other preparations. And it’s pretty – the pale jade of the beans, the bright yellows and whites of the corn with a pop of tomato red. I love thyme for a nice herbal note, but any sturdy, woodsy herb like oregano, marjoram or even rosemary (very finely chopped) would hold up to the long cooking time. I can also see preparing this dish in winter with the frozen beans and corn I am putting up now, as the roasting will refresh the summer sweetness.

Roasted Summer Succotash

1 pound fresh butter beans

4 ears of corn

6 green onions, white and light green parts

2 bell pepper, red and orange are pretty, green is fine

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

2 Tablespoons tomato paste

¼ cup water

10 cherry tomatoes

½ cup olive oil

Generous amounts of salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the butter beans in a small pot and cover by water by about an inch. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam that rises, then lower the heat, cover the pot and cook for 30 – 40 minutes until the butter beans are just tender but with a little bite. Drain thoroughly.

Cut the kernels from the corn cobs into a large bowl. Finely dice the green onions, then finely dice the bell peppers and add to the bowl. Add the butter beans and the thyme and gently stir to combine and distribute everything evenly. Mix the tomato paste and water together and add to the bowl with generous amounts of salt and pepper and stir again to coat. Pour the mixture into a large baking dish, then half the tomatoes and nestle them into the beans. Pour over the olive oil.

Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for one hour. Serve warm.

Serves 8

Summer Squash and Leek Gratin

Squash casserole is a Southern summer must. My go to has been a classic version, rich with cheese and sour cream, and I adapted that for a pimento cheese version in my first book, Pimento Cheese the Cookbook. Most southerners deal with an overabundance of summer squash, whether it’s from friends who garden or the irresistible urge to buy the locally grown, beautiful sunshine yellow vegetable at the farmers market.  So we are always looking for new and interesting ways to serve fresh squash. This gratin has the beautifully creaminess we love  in squash casserole, but is lighter and very fresh and bright.  My mom told me this was the best thing I’ve made recently, and what better endorsement could there be.

I like that the leeks in this dish complement the squash without overwhelming – the brilliant sunny taste of the squash shines through. Thyme is my favorite herb with squash, but feel free to branch out with marjoram or oregano. Nutty gruyere cheese and a light hit of breadcrumbs make a rustic topping, but you could also use fontina or swiss.

Summer Squash and Leek Gratin
Serves 8
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 large leeks, white and lightest green parts only
  2. 2 pounds yellow summer squash (about 4 medium)
  3. ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  4. 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (stripped from the stalks)
  5. 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  8. 1 cup milk, heated in the microwave or a small pan until hot to the touch
  9. ¾ cup grated gruyere cheese
  10. ½ cup bread crumbs
Instructions
  1. Slice the leeks in in half, then slice the leeks into thin half-moons. Place in a colander and rinse well, then leave to drain for a few minutes. Thinly slice the squash – I use a mandoline, but the slicing blade of a food processor also works, or a knife and a little patience.
  2. Melt 6 Tablespoons of the butter over medium heat in a large, deep-sided sauté pan or a Dutch oven (you need room to stir the squash around). Add the leeks with some water clinging to them and stir to coat with the butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are soft and glassy, do not let them brown, about 15 minutes. Add the squash and stir to coat in the butter and combine with the leeks. Cook until the squash is tender and floppy, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle over the thyme leaves, the salt and the pepper and stir to combine. Sprinkle over the flour and stir until there is no dry flour left visible in the pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the hot milk and bring to a bubble. Cook until the milk has thickened and created a nice sauce for the vegetables, about 5 minutes. Transfer everything to a buttered 2-quart baking dish. If you are making this ahead, leave to cool before proceeding.
  3. Toss the gruyere and breadcrumbs together in a small bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the top of the gratin. Cut the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter into small pieces and dot over the top of the gratin. You can cover the cooled dish at this point and refrigerate for several hours, or bake immediately. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake until bubbly and golden on the top, about 20 minutes.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Buttermilk Coleslaw

Coleslaw is a perfectly refreshing summer side dish, I’m not sure it’s actually allowed to have a summer celebration without it! There are so many delicious versions of coleslaw, and many people have very particular requirements, it can be a somewhat fraught decision about which to serve. But I do like to switch things up, from tangy, vinegary Crispy Picnic Slaw to this creamy iteration that has a very fresh finish perfect in the heat of summer. Some people tell me am a little bit obsessed with buttermilk, and I can’t say they’re wrong. I think it adds such flavor and dimension to everything it touches. In this recipe, buttermilk makes the slaw tangy and fresh with a refreshing creaminess that manages not to be overbearing.

And this coleslaw is versatile. Great with barbecue, hamburgers or hot dogs, or as a part of a cold picnic spread. I grab my vegetables at the farmers market for a local summer treat at the peak of freshness. If you can’t find two kinds of cabbage, one color is perfectly fine, and you can omit the carrots or the radishes, though they add such a lovely, colorful touch. You may want to drain off a little of the dressing before serving, some of the liquid from the cabbage will add to the dressing.

Buttermilk Coleslaw
Serves 6
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 small head of green cabbage
  2. 1 small head of purple cabbage
  3. 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  4. 2 carrots
  5. 3 radishes
  6. ½ cup mayonnaise
  7. ½ cup whole buttermilk
  8. ¼ cup granulated sugar
  9. 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  10. 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  11. generous grinds of black pepper.
Instructions
  1. Shred the cabbage – you can do this on the food processor, a box grater, or very thinly slice the cabbage with a large knife. You should have about 10 cups of cabbage Place the cabbage in a colander and toss it with the salt. Leave it to drain for at least an hour, tossing it around a few times. Rinse and drain the cabbage. Spread the cabbage on paper-towel lined baking sheet. Grate the carrots and radishes and toss with the cabbage. Leave to dry for about half and hour. You can pat it dry with more paper towels if you prefer.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, sugar, lemon juice and pepper until thoroughly combined. Add the grated vegetables and toss with a fork to coat the slaw with the dressing. Cover and refrigerate for several hours at least, but overnight is perfect. Toss well before serving. You may want to drain off some accumulated dressing.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Blueberry Zucchini Cake

What grows together goes together is a good way to cook in the kitchen. I love to make the most of in-season produce. I always seem to end up with one more zucchini hanging around and my market bag is always bursting with berries when they are in season. So it seemed only natural to find a way to use them together. And I really love this unique, fresh, summery sheet cake.

I saw a recipe for a zucchini bread with blueberries somewhere, but I didn’t save it our cut it out, the idea just stuck with me. I worked on that idea for a while, but in the end, it seemed to me like a great idea for a straight-up sweet with a twist. The zucchini adds this grassy, vegetal note to the sweetness of the cake and the pop of juicy blueberries. Buttermilk adds a little tang with some freshness brought in with a zip of lemon to the cake and to the sweet, crackly glaze. The added bonus here is that this makes a great big sheet cake that serves a real crowd, so it’s perfect for a summer picnic party.

Blueberry Zucchini Cake
Serves 24
Print
For the Cake
  1. 2 cups grated zucchini, from about 1 large zucchini
  2. ½ cup whole buttermilk
  3. zest of one lemon
  4. 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  5. 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  6. 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  8. 2 large eggs
  9. 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  10. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  11. ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  12. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  13. 2 cups fresh blueberries
For the Glaze
  1. 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  2. ¼ cup whole buttermilk
  3. 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  4. a dash of nutmeg
For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 15 by 10 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment or nonstick foil with some overlapping ends.
  2. Combine the grated zucchini, buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl and stir to combine. Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg alternately with the zucchini mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. When fully combined and smooth, fold in the blueberries with a spatula to evenly distribute them. Spread the batter in the prepared pan, scooting the berries around as needed to distribute them throughout the cake. Bake for 30- 40 minutes until golden and firm and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan.
For the glaze
  1. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, buttermilk, lemon juice and nutmeg together until smooth. Slowly spread it over the top of the cooled cake to cover the top. Go slow so the glaze doesn’t drip off the sides. Let the glaze set for at least an hour, then slice and serve.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/
SaveSave

Slow Cooker Sorghum Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an absolutely essential part of Thanksgiving. I love a good sweet potato casserole, both the mashed version and a sliced version. I’m fortunate, particularly at the holidays, that I have plenty of oven space to prepare the full Thanksgiving menu, but I know that is not the case for everyone, so here as my space solution, which I think as a brilliant idea. This recipe didn’t start as a Thanksgiving dish for me, but as a hands-off way to cook a big batch of sweet potatoes for a dinner party. And I have made it many times for weeknight dinners because it really is unbelievably easy.

I love the flavor of grassy sorghum with earthy sweet potatoes. The smoked paprika adds a lovely depth and hint of smokiness. The result of slow cooking is similar to roasting on a sheet pan – the edges aren’t as crisp, but there are lovely browned rims with fluffy centers and a lovely seasoned exterior. Make these for Thanksgiving, but I promise you’ll pull the recipe out throughout the year.

Slow Cooker Sorghum Sweet Potatoes
Serves 6
Print
Ingredients
  1. 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  2. 3 Tablespoons sorghum syrup
  3. 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  4. 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  5. 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. ½ teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut the peeled sweet potatoes into evenly sized cubes, about 1 inches. Spray the crock of a slow cooker with cooking spray then spread the potatoes in the crock.
  2. Whisk the sorghum, vinegar, mustard, paprika salt and pepper together in a small bowl until thoroughly combined, then pour over the sweet potatoes. Stir to coat the sweet potatoes, cover the crock and cook on low for eight hours, which I prefer, or high for 4 hours.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Cold Pickled Potatoes with Rosemary

I love a good, chilled potato salad in summer, whether it’s with burgers from the grill, a fried chicken picnic, or just a spread of cold salads. And I generally lean toward the chunky potatoes with a creamy dressing and interesting add ins variety, like my Mom’s Dilled Potato Salad, or Mustard Bacon Potato Salad. But I ran across a recipe in a book or a magazine for potatoes lightly pickled then served with a rather fancy warm sauce. I have long lost the original recipe, but the idea of pickled potatoes with an herbal hint, chilled in the fridge stuck with me, so I cobbled together this simple version.

I think this is a really interesting change up to a potato salad – it isn’t really a salad at all, just potatoes served cold. It works in all the ways you serve a standard potato salad, but light and fresh with a sweet-tart-tangy finish that makes a perfect accompaniment to rich burgers or sausages from the grill, or even a roast. I think you could try other herbs as well, like thyme or sage, and maybe through a bay leaf in the mix. I find these lovely little pebble sized yellow potatoes readily at the grocery, just buy the smallest potatoes you can find. If yours are not quite so small, add a few minutes to the boiling time and the sitting in hot water time.

Cold Pickled Potatoes with Rosemary
Serves 6
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds very small potatoes
  2. 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  3. 1 cup granulated sugar
  4. 6 – 7 stalks of rosemary
  5. kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Place the potatoes in one layer (or as close as you can get) in a large deep skillet and cover with water by about 1/2 inch. Add several generous pinches kosher salt and bring to a boil. Boil for five minutes, then remove from the heat and cover the pan. Leave the potatoes to sit in the water for 15 – 20 minutes while you make the brine.
  2. Combine the vinegar, 2 cups water and the sugar in a large saucepan that will fit the potatoes and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then drop in the rosemary. Cover the pan and set aside.
  3. Test the potatoes by inserting a sharp knife into one of the larger ones. It should slide about half way with no resistance. Quickly cover the pan and leave for a few more minutes if necessary. Drain the potatoes and rinse with cool water until cool enough to handle. Cut the potatoes in half, and drop them into the still warm brine. Stir to cover the potatoes and leave to sit at room temperature for at least two hours. You can then refrigerate the potatoes overnight. Drain completely and pick out the rosemary stalks and any stray needles. The drained potatoes will hold in the fridge for several more hours.
  4. Serve chilled.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Cherry Tomato and Sweet Onion Bake

I am always enticed by cherry tomatoes at the farmers market. All the pretty colors and shapes and sizes. They are all just so pretty, though the perfect orbs of a classic Sweet 100 or Tumbling Toms always catch my eye. And, as with much of the bounty of summer produce, I have a tendency to over buy, with no fixed plan for how to use them. And though popping the little tomatoes straight in my mouth, or serving them simply drizzled with a vinaigrette are good options, sometimes I want to try something a little different with a little more intrigue. And adding heat brings out the sweetness in the tomatoes beautifully. And to complement that sweet tang of the melting tomatoes, I love a bed of candied caramelized onions. The bread crumbs add a crispy finish, but also soak up the lovely juices that ooze from the onions and the tomatoes.

I prefer evenly round, classic cherry tomatoes for this dish rather than the multicolored and unevenly sized versions. Oregano is a great complement to summer tomatoes, but thyme or marjoram would work just as well. I have eaten this dish on its own as a meal, but it makes a wonderful side dish to grilled meat or a roasted chicken. And though I adore this with fresh summer cherry tomatoes, it can boost the flavor of hothouse cherry tomatoes throughout the year.

Cherry Tomato and Sweet Onion Bake
Serves 6
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  3. one bunch of fresh oregano
  4. kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  5. 1 pound cherry tomatoes
  6. ½ cup dried bread crumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a medium sized oven-safe skillet. Add the onions and cooke over medium heat until they are soft and just beginning to brown. Pour in a ½ cup of water and stir, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid evaporates and the onions area nice soft and glassy and a nice caramelized brown. This should take about 20 minutes. Finely mince about ¼ cup of oregano leaves and add 2 Tablespoons to the onions with a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper and stir to evenly distribute the herbs. Remove the pan from the heat and spread the onions out in an even layer. Spread the cherry tomatoes over the onions in as even a layer as possible (some make stick up into a second layer). Mix the bread crumbs with the remaining oregano and sprinkle evenly over the top of the tomatoes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 - 30 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and collapsing and slightly charred in some places and the bread crumbs are browned. I like to turn the broiler on for a few minutes, watching carefully, just to create a nice, browned top.
  3. Let the dish cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Curried Corn Soup with Toasted Corn Kernels

Fresh corn and curry are a favorite combination of mine, and for years I have made a quick blender soup using frozen corn and boxed stock. It’s such a treat for me, that I figured I ought to work out a proper recipe using a full complement of the beautiful summer corn I find at the farmers market. And I love this version even more. Softened with leeks, redolent with corn flavor and a healthy dose of curry powder, this beautiful yellow soup is a perfect summer bowl. Just a few ingredients create a remarkably complex and rich flavor.

I love the base of fresh corn stock, and it is easy to make. You could use vegetable broth for a shortcut, but make sure you use one that is light in color so you don’t muddy the final result. The chewy, toasty corn kernels make a wonderful topping, but get as creative as you want. I could see toasted coconut shards or roasted, salted cashews as a nice contrast. You could add a dollop of yogurt as well. This soup freezes really well, so make a big batch (or several) with in-season corn to stock up for the winter. I love this soup warm, but it is lovely served chilled in the heat of summer.

Curried Corn Soup with Toasted Corn Kernels
Serves 4
Print
Ingredients
  1. 8 ears corn
  2. 2 large or 3 medium leeks
  3. 4 green onions
  4. 2 cloves garlic
  5. 3 teaspoons curry powder
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. ½ teaspoon garam masala
Instructions
  1. Fill a large bowl or the sink with cold water and ice. Bring a large stockpot full of water to a boil. Blanch the corn in the boiling water for 30 seconds and remove it immediately to the ice water bath to stop the cooking. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cobs into a large bowl. Scrap the cobs to release any juices. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and place in the refrigerator.
  2. Cut the corn cobs in half and place in a large stockpot (if you use the pot you blanched in, rinse it well to remove corn silks) and cover with 10 cups of water. Bring the stock to a boil, skim off any scum that rise, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 1 ½ hours. The liquid should reduce by about half. Pour the stock through a strainer and discard the solids.
  3. Cut the white and pale green parts of the leeks in half, then into thin half-moons. Rinse the pieces thoroughly with cold water to remove any dirt or grits. Rinse out the stockpot and add the olive oil. Cook the leeks, with a little water clinging to them, over medium heat until soft and glossy, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently and do not let the leeks brown. Add the garlic and cook a further minute, then sprinkle over the curry powder, salt and garam masala. Cook, stirring well, for a few minutes until the spices are toasty and fragrant. Measure out 1/2 cup of corn kernels and set aside, then add the rest or the corn and any accumulated liquid to the pot. Stir to combine the leeks and corn, then pour in 4 cups of the corn cob stock and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium low and cover the pot. Simmer the soup for 30 minutes, until the kernels are very soft. Leave the soup to cool a little, then carefully puree it in batches in a blender. Pour each batch through a fine mesh sieve set over a large, pressing the liquid through. Rinse out the pot again, and return the smooth soup to it. At this point, you can refrigerate the soup for up to 2 days.
  4. Toast the reserved in a dry skillet until browned and beginning to make a popping noise. When toasted evenly, transfer to a plate so the kernels don’t continue cooking.
  5. The soup can be served chilled, or warmed through over medium heat. Serve topped with toasted corn.
Notes
  1. Corn stock is a wonderful thing to have around, it pumps up the flavor of a winter chowder made with frozen corn or any vegetable soup. Make big batches and freeze. I keep a Ziploc bag in the freezer and add a striped cob everytime I use corn. When I have about a dozen cobs, I make stock.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/

Creamy Butter Bean Casserole

My mother tells me, often now, that when I was a child, I would no more have eaten a butter bean or a field pea than a piece of shoe leather. She marvels every time I serve, write about or just generally express appreciation for the glories I now see in them. But she never turns down a dish that I make. And this one has become a family favorite. I mean, juicy butter beans, creamy sauce, gooey cheesy, a dash of lemon – what’s not to love.

Though I am always looking for new and interesting ways to cook with these jewels, I tend to lean in the direction of simmering beans and peas with cured pork. But I love the difference here, the sauce that coats the butterbeans is rich and creamy, but really fresh because of the lemon. The crispy bread crumb topping adds a great textural contrast as well. And it can easily be made ahead to serve hot and bubbly at the table. I put lots of fresh butter beans up in the freezer in summer and use them in this dish year round.

Creamy Butter Bean Casserole
Serves 8
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound fresh butter beans
  2. ½ cup butter
  3. ¼ cup flour
  4. 2 cups milk
  5. Zest and juice of one lemon
  6. Salt and pepper
  7. 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
  8. 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  9. 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  10. 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Soak the butter beans in a large bowl of cold water for 30 minutes. Skim off any floaters and pick out any damaged beans. Drain the beans and put into a large saucepan. Cover with fresh water by about ½ an inch, bring to a boil and skim off any foam that rises. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes until the beans are tender, but with a little bite to them. You can cook a bit longer if needed. Drain the beans.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet, then whisk in the flour until smooth and white. Pour in the milk slowly, whisking constantly until smooth. Whisk in the lemon juice, lemon zest, about 1 teaspoon salt and several generous grinds of black pepper. Cook, whisking, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from the heat and gently fold in the cooked butter beans. Taste the beans, and add salt if needed. These beans can take quite a bit of salt. Layer one half of the creamy beans in a greased 8 by 8 inch casserole. Sprinkle over the cheese, the gently spread the remaining beans over the cheese.
  3. Mix the bread crumbs, parsley a dash of salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until combined. Spread the breadcrumbs over the top of the casserole.
  4. The beans can be cooled, covered and refrigerated overnight if needed. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the casserole until it is hot through, bubbling around the edges and browned on the top, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
The Runaway Spoon http://therunawayspoon.com/blog/