Need a last-minute recipe for Thanksgiving? Try succotash from our new cookbook, Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen! UPF publicist and rights manager Samantha Zaboski decided to try her hand at cooking this exciting dish.

Here’s why Samantha chose this recipe:

I love recipes that include a variety of flavors, especially with vegetables and beans. I often can’t stand the thought of sitting down to a side of just zucchini or just beans​, so I was excited to see this recipe had plenty of different ingredients to keep my taste buds happy. Norman’s succotash is a dish everyone at Thanksgiving can enjoy, but it’ll make your vegetarian guests quite thankful to have a source of protein. I wasn’t feeding 10-12 people (okay, so I was just feeding myself), and I knew it would be an easy recipe to scale down without having to perfectly calculate the balance of ingredients. ​


Recipe from Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen
By Norman Van Aken

Norman Van Aken says: The Narragansett Indian word sohquttahhash, rendered more simply today as succotash, refers to “broken corn kernels.” Corn is an essential ingredient in succotash, but as any gardener can tell you, this dish extends a warm welcome to many vegetables. I use it on a quesadilla in this book, but it is fine as a stand-alone dish too.

Serves 10 to 12 as a side dish (with leftovers)

¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 jalapeño, seeded (if desired) and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ sweet onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cups blanched fresh field peas, black-eyed peas, butter beans, or crowder peas
2 cups fresh corn kernels
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
¾ cup Chicken Stock or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 cup diced heirloom or other high-quality tomatoes

In a large, flat sauté pan, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the jalapeño, garlic, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onion is showing a touch of color at the edges.

Add the bell peppers, zucchini, field peas, and corn. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the stock, tarragon, and thyme. Bring to a high simmer, then remove from the heat and fold in the tomato. Taste for seasoning. Serve hot.

Samantha’s verdict:

I should have made more. I almost never cook my vegetables in butter, but I trusted Norman’s recipe and now I’m spoiled. I’m not sure how I’ll go back to my woeful plates of steamed zucchini after this. I’ll be returning to this recipe a lot for those occasions when I need to whip up a quick dish for a family gathering or a pot luck or, you know, myself.




vanak001_500x500Bonus Recipe: Dance Card Darlin’

Recipe from Norman Van Aken’s Florida Kitchen
By Norman Van Aken

Norman Van Aken says: The Key West–based novel 92 Degrees in the Shade, by Tom McGuane, features a kind of crazy-brilliant fisherman named Nichol Dance. The great Warren Oates played him in the movie version, which was one of the zanier movie sets that ever hit Florida. This is a play on this name and also about taking chances, which wild Nichol Dance did plenty of in the memorable McGuane novel. Care to dance?

Makes 1 cocktail

5 fresh mint leaves, plus 1 sprig for garnish
1 bar spoon of sugar
3 (³∕₈-inch-thick) slices peeled cucumber
1 orange wedge
½ ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
½ ounce Old Sour (see below)
3 ounces Pimm’s No. 1
2 ounces Fever Tree ginger beer


Chill a collins glass in the freezer. Once chilled, muddle the mint leaves with the sugar lightly in the glass. Then add the cucumber and orange, crush them, and top with ice.

In a mixing tin, shake the lime juice, Old Sour, and Pimm’s vigorously with ice, then strain into the glass. Top with the ginger beer and stir gently.

Garnish by smacking the mint sprig gently in your palm and placing it in the drink, along the side of the glass. Serve with a straw.

Samantha’s verdict:

My husband’s favorite cocktail is the Pimm’s Cup, so when I saw this variation of one in Norman’s cookbook, I had to try it out. Since I hadn’t planned ahead, I put a drop of hot sauce in and some extra lime juice in lieu of the Old Sour. This would be a great alternative to mimosas for a Thanksgiving brunch!


Old Sour

2 cups fresh-squeezed Key lime juice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
A few drops of hot sauce

Combine all the ingredients and let sit for a day or so. Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth into a bowl, passing it through three or four times to remove all undissolved salt and fibers. Pour into a clean mason jar or bottle with a stopper on top.

Place in the refrigerator for 2 weeks to “cure” before using. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

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