New World Summer Skillet

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New World Summer Skillet

Can you imagine Italian cuisine without tomatoes and zucchini? Or Spanish cuisine without peppers and chilies? How about Irish cuisine without potatoes? All the ingredients in this skillet fry are indigenous to the new world. One might argue that onions are indigenous to China or Iran however when the Pilgrims arrived they found wild onions growing. Most researchers agree the onion has been cultivated for at least 5000 years. Since onions grew wild in various regions, they were probably consumed for thousands of years and domesticated simultaneously all over the world. That being said, corn, potatoes, sunflower seeds, bell and chili peppers, squash, beans, tomatillos, tomatoes and chia seeds are all indigenous to the Americas. They all were taken back to the old world and is now a staple in countries all over the world.


The fresh ingredients here usually all ripen in late summer in the northwest when this dish will taste the best. A clever trick to remove the husk and silk from the corn cobs easily is displayed in the first step. My Grandmother would always tell me to cook the corn just until the milk in the center of the kernel is cooked. This method will do that and then by cutting each kernel through the middle will render the corn easier to digest. Scraping the corn pulp from the cob with a spoon will include the most nutritious and delicious part of the corn. The chia seeds are optional as a garnish, however, are a powerhouse of added nutrition in the form of omega 3 fatty acid, antioxidants, protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. In season this dish is not only nutritious but delicious!

4 servings

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2 ears corn on the cob

6 fingerling potatoes

4 tablespoons sunflower seed oil (divided)

1 cup sweet onion, small diced (Walla Walla or Vidalia onions)

1 bell red pepper, seeds removed, small diced

2 small serrano peppers, seeds removed, flesh minced

2-4 petit pan squash and zucchini, small diced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 can black beans, drained, rinsed

½ teaspoon chipotle pepper

2 tomatillos, small diced

1 tomato, small diced

2 tablespoons chia seeds (optional garnish)


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1.     Slice off the tassel end of the corn leaving the husk in place. Slice off the stalk end of the corn cob exposing the last ring of corn kernels. Wrap in two layers of wet paper towels. Place in the microwave and cook for three minutes on high. Remove the husk and silk by pulling from the tassel end. With a paring knife slice each kernel through the middle down the length of the cob. Slice the kernels off the cobs. With a tablespoon scrape the remaining pulp from the cobs. Reserve the corn kernels and pulp together.

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2.     Slice the fingerling potatoes in fourths lengthwise. Cook on a plate with a thin layer of water in the microwave on high for two to three minutes or until slightly cooked but still firm.

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3.     Heat the two tablespoons oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the potatoes, cut side down. Fry until golden brown on both cut sides. Remove from the pan, place on a paper towel lined plate, sprinkle with salt to taste, and reserve in the microwave oven (I use it as a warming oven here).

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4.     Heat the remaining oil in the skillet until it shimmers. Add the onions, bell, serrano peppers, and salt. Fry until softened, about four minutes.

5.     Add the squash and cook until soft, about four more minutes. Add the reserved corn kernels, black beans, tomatillos, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with chipotle pepper. Heat throughout, about two more minutes.

6.     Place in a large low-sided bowl or four soup plate bowls. Prop the potato wedges around the edges of the bowl. Garnish with the chia seeds and serve warm.

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