Summer Succotash over Grilled Jalapeno Polenta

A quick and easy summer succotash made from corn, fava beans, red pepper and zucchini. Served atop crisp, grilled jalapeno polenta squares with a fresh tomato puree. The perfect vegetarian meal for summer entertaining! Vegan & Gluten Free. <jump to recipe>

We're in full-on summer mode over here: the garden is brimming with veggies, the patio furniture is out, and we've been enjoying plenty of outdoor meals with family and friends. Dinners recently have been all about advanced prep and limited on-the-spot 'kitchen action' – because when everyone is chilling on our patio, the last place I want to be is cooking indoors.

At the same time, cooking for others comes with slightly added pressure now. The food blog is no secret amongst our friends and I definitely don’t want to let people down. The challenge is to constantly come up with new, impressive meals that can satisfy our not-so-vegetarian friends and family… all while making it as easy as possible for the cook (ahem, me). The last situation I want on my hands is four kitchen burners going and me sweating up a storm, while trying to play hostess at the same time. Nope, not gonna happen.

Summer Succotash Over Grilled Jalapeno Polenta // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan & Gluten Free
Summer Succotash Over Grilled Jalapeno Polenta // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan & Gluten Free

This summer succotash and grilled jalapeno polenta is exactly the type of recipe I want when entertaining. It features an abundance of summer veggies in a bright succotash made from corn, fava beans, red peppers and zucchini. And since many of our friends are skeptical of "sad vegan salads", the succotash is piled atop grilled jalapeno polenta. The polenta adds more heft to the meal, and the grilling it incorporates that barbecue magic we all crave in the summer months (without the meat or the stereotypical veggie burger). I also like to serve this dish with a quick and easy tomato sauce, because it adds a great touch of acid to brighten the whole plate up. Plus who ever said no to a great sauce?! It's like a grown up version of ketchup, but so much better.

Besides tasting delicious, this dish is extremely practical when it comes to entertaining. Although there are three components, almost everything can be prepared in advance. The polenta and tomato sauce can be made a day or two before – so that all you need to do on the day of is reheat them. The succotash is simple enough to cook on the spot. I recommend prepping and cutting all the veggies beforehand, so that it takes you less than 15 minutes to sauté everything before serving. Honestly, how much easier does it get?

There are two steps to making grilled polenta. First, you'll need to cook the polenta on the stovetop. And then, once cooked, you'll transfer the thickened polenta into a baking pan to cool. The second step is slicing up the polenta, giving it a quick brush of oil on both sides, and then throwing it on the grill for a quick char. If you don't feel like using the barbeque or a grill pan, you could use a cast iron skillet instead. Polenta keeps quite well in the fridge, up to 3-4 days. So, it's totally legit to make your polenta in advance and let it chill out in the fridge until you need it. Then just grill it up to serve.

And while this recipe makes for a great dish to serve a crowd, it's also a yummy dinner that keeps on giving throughout the week. There's been more than one occasion when we packed up the extras and gobbled them down for lunch the next day. So good!

Summer Succotash Over Grilled Jalapeno Polenta // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan & Gluten Free
Summer Succotash Over Grilled Jalapeno Polenta // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan & Gluten Free
Summer Succotash Over Grilled Jalapeno Polenta // Natural Girl Modern World // Vegan & Gluten Free

SUMMER SUCCOTASH

SERVES 6 (VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lb fresh fava bean pods (or 1 cup frozen fava beans)*
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, coconut)
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, de-seeded + chopped
  • 3 cups corn kernels (3 cobs or frozen)
  • 2 cups zucchini, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Juice from 1/2 - 1 lime (to taste)
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes, sliced
  • Grilled Jalapeno Polenta (recipe below)
  • Fresh Tomato Puree (recipe below)
  • Optional - Cilantro, for garnish

Directions

  1. Remove fava beans from their pods. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, and prepare a bowl of ice water. Once water is boiling, add beans and cook for 1-2 minutes (until slightly soft). Strain beans and transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking process. Once beans are cool enough to handle, peel away the waxy coating on the beans. Set aside. Note: If using frozen fava beans, ignore this step.
  2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Place onion in pan and cook for 3 minutes, until onion is soft. Add garlic and jalapeno and sauté for 1 minute. Add corn and cook for 2 minutes, then add in zucchini and red pepper. Cook until vegetables begin to soften (5-7 minutes). Add in the fava beans, salt, pepper and lime juice. Stir to mix, the cook for another 1-2 minutes before removing from the heat. 
  3. Serve atop grilled polenta with tomato puree. Top with baby tomatoes and garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired. Serve warm.

Notes:
*Once fava beans are shelled, they will still have a waxy coating around the bean. Although some some enjoy young fava beans without the waxy coating removed – but for best results, follow the process for blanching and peeling as outlined in the recipe. Can be substituted with 1 cup frozen fava beans (or lima beans, if preferred).
 

GRILLED JALAPENO POLENTA WITH FRESH TOMATO PUREE

SERVES 6 (VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE)

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1-2 tablespoons jalapeno peppers, de-seeded + chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed), for grilling

Fresh tomato puree:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-3 tablespoons water, if needed

Directions

  1. For the jalapeno polenta, line an 8x8" baking pan with parchment paper. Use 2 strips placed in opposite directions to make for easy removal.
  2. Bring water to boil. Whisk in polenta, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, whisking vigorously every 4-5 minutes. Whisking regularly will help prevent clumping as the polenta thickens. Add in jalapeno peppers, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk continuously for another 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes very thick and the polenta is fully cooked to your liking.
  3. Transfer polenta mixture into the lined baking pan. Use a spatula to spread the polenta evenly throughout the pan. Refrigerate until cool and firm (minimum 30 minutes, ideally 1.5+ hours). Polenta can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. When ready to serve, remove polenta from pan. Slice into equal sized pieces. Brush both sides with oil and grill for ~3 minutes on each side, or until the inside is warm and edges are golden brown.

Fresh tomato puree: 

  1. Heat a pot over medium high heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon oil and add onion. Cook until onion is brown on the edges, being careful not to burn the oil. Once the onion is soft (~5 minutes), reduce heat to low. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, tomato puree and 1 tablespoon oil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. 
  2. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Add water to thin the sauce to desired consistency. Refrigerate extra sauce in a sealed container.

Notes:
Instead of grilling, you could also use a cast iron skillet to crisp up the sides of the polenta.
When serving with summer succotash, dinner prep can be made easier by preparing the jalapeno polenta and tomato sauce the day before. Re-heat before serving.