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peachy corn succotash tacos with lentils + basil slaw


These healthy tacos with fresh sweet corn, juicy peaches and basil are a culmination of many thoughts of dreamy summer meals simmering away over time. My love of juicy fruit in savory dishes is pretty obvious at this point and tacos are the perfect outdoor-dwelling-with-a-cool-drink-in-the-other-hand-kinda food (my heart is devoted to those foods). They also came about because of two pretty specific reasons: the first was a nugget of professional kitchen guidance and the second was spite (not joking).

On the first one–that kitchen wisdom. It started with me completely over-thinking something and ended with the simplest, most calm and matter-of-fact answer (i.e. it mirrored my entire adult life). We had a daily feature at the restaurant that included succotash as a component of the plate. So I ask one of our chefs, perfect sentence structure intact obviously, “What like, definitively makes a succotash like… a succotash? You know?” I followed this with a flippy, fingers stretched, rotating hand gesture that, ahem, very clearly emphasized my query. The answer: “Just whatever vegetables we’re trying to use up. All together.” Sure, you can get technical, but that little shred of simplicity was all I needed to get the wheels turning.

The second inspiration for this truly came out of spite. I saw something bothersome on twitter (getting bothered by a taco-centric tweet; guh I know). A guy was talking about a “right” taco, that there was a proper route to follow in regard to this particular food. Any other way was laughable and misinformed. This implied one obvious, egotistical and riduculous thing to me: everyone was wrong about food except him. Sorry dude, a taco is never wrong. You can quote me on that. There is no right way with food. It is nourishing and individual and different and cultural and socio-economical. It is everything and it belongs to all of us in every way imaginable.

If you have the privilege to consume it regularly, food is completely right in any context. Whether made on a 6 burner Viking stove or stirred together with boiling water in a coffee pot because that’s what is available, it’s your context and it is right. We can decide to make it simple or complex. We make it because we love the process or we make it to get by and move on to the next thing. What’s important is that we do actually make it, that we ask questions of the food and its source, that we serve it to the people we love, that we sit around the communal table and talk and nourish ourselves in every way. That is truly everything.

So with that I give you a not-by-the-book taco with some improper succotash stuffed inside. Oh and some lentils, avocado and a tangle of lime and basil slaw on top.  It is different, it is improper in a sense, but they are so delicious it’s unbelievable and the sheer sight of them made me so happy. Whatever they say, that’s the final word.

One more exciting thing: Spirituality & Health magazine has launched a Good Food Blog on their website. I’m so thrilled to be contributing along with some other amazing bloggers. So in honor of all that, they’re letting me give away 2 subscriptions to their inspiring magazine! You can enter the giveaway on my facebook page. You have until Monday July 16th to get your entry in. Good luck lovelies :)

peachy sweet corn tacos with lentils + basil slaw
serves: makes about 10-12 tacos
notes: The succotash makes an awesome side dish all on its own. I would add some chopped basil to it to finish if you’re going to go that route.

slaw:
1/4 head of green cabbage, shredded
1 big sprig of basil, leaves removed and sliced
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
salt and pepper

succotash:
1/3 cup french lentils, rinsed
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 shallot, small dice
1 small red pepper, small dice
1/2 tsp chili powder (ancho or chipotle are amazing)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 ears of corn, kernels removed
2 ripe peaches, pitted and diced
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper

assembly:
10-12 corn tortillas, warmed
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
lime wedges

Cook the lentils: place the rinsed lentils in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender but still have some bite. Set aside.

Make the slaw: combine the shredded cabbage, basil, lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside in the fridge.

Make the succotash: Heat the grapeseed oil in a medium-large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced shallot and red pepper. Saute mixture until soft and slightly translucent. Add the chili powder and cumin. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the corn kernels and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper at this point. Cook, stirring frequently until corn is crisp-tender and slightly more golden, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the diced peaches, cooked lentils and lime juice. Check for seasoning and keep warm.

To assemble: Place 1/4 cup or so of succotash in each tortilla, top with avocado slices and a good tongs-full of slaw. Eat immediately.

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la domestique11/07/2012 - 2:59 pm

I would happily chow down on one of your tacos! They look so fresh and nourishing. Beautiful photos!

Nico11/07/2012 - 3:36 pm

Oh gosh, the tacos look fantastic but your story is even more inspiring. A succotash is whatever it can be and a taco is whatever you want it to be. I often get overwhelmed by the idea that sometimes there is a one, authentic, true version of a dish and I just need to let that go.

Michelle11/07/2012 - 4:03 pm

Dude. What a sweet addition to my “Summer of Tacos” (yeah, I’m making it a real thing).

Also, when will people stop this annoying “authenticity” bs about food? Some of the best tacos I’ve had were filled with Korean BBQ, just saying.

Sofia11/07/2012 - 4:05 pm

I think your lovely tacos can take his “right” tacos any day. I’m totally with you on there never being one way to do something. Our way is right the way, whatever we want it to be.

Carrie | acookgrowsinbrooklyn11/07/2012 - 4:15 pm

Totally on board with any food that isn’t ‘by the book.’ I’m newly obsessed with making corn tortillas at home and always looking for inspirational new fillings – just found the makings of my next taco night. Congrats on the writing gig!

sara11/07/2012 - 4:56 pm

lovely! I’m totally on your team with the sweets in the savory dishes. and congrats on being a contributor, excited to see your work. the more the better :)

Dana @ FoodieGoesHealthy11/07/2012 - 5:07 pm

Beautiful photos. I can’t get enough of summer peaches, so I’m excited to make your tacos.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar11/07/2012 - 6:18 pm

These look so tasty!

Sophia12/07/2012 - 5:00 am

Laura,

Those tacos look heavenly (I just wish we already had nice and ripe peaches – I had one the other day and although it was pretty sweet it was rockhard, and ‘crunchy’ is a word that should never be used in the same sentence as ‘peach’!).

And I hear you on the right or wrong way of preparing certain dishes – my parents spent time living in Morocco before I was born, and out of that grew a deep love affair with Northern African cuisine, in particular cous cous and tagines. I once asked my mum how many different types of cous cous there were and her response was “There are as many different types of cous cous as there are housewives in Morocco”. I am sure the same applies to tacos!

In all honesty though, there is also a little piece inside of me that yearns for people to prepare things the way they ‘should’ be prepared. Sure, there is no right or wrong way to prepare many dishes but every time I order a panna cotta that is basically a vanilla cream-flavoured piece of jelly that would likely bounce of the floor if dropped, I wish more chefs took the time and skill to slowly heat the cream with a vanilla pod, sugar and some cornstarch until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon before leaving it to set – resulting in a heavenly concoction, thick enough to be inverted and have that gorgeous wobble yet far creamier than anything made with gelatine. Pedantic? Maybe (though in my defence I reserve this pedantry for when people start tempering with what I think is the essence of a dish while pretending to staying true to the original … ).

All the best

Sophia

Kathryn12/07/2012 - 8:04 am

I think tacos are the ultimate ‘make them up as you go along’ food – it’s almost impossible to make a not delicious taco but these really look like some of the best!

Kathryne12/07/2012 - 11:27 am

“A taco is never wrong.” Love that! I’m all on board for these tacos, they look incredible.

Rachel12/07/2012 - 12:59 pm

“A taco is never wrong” – here here!
I used to get funny looks from my husband when I served meatless tacos but he’s finally accustomed to my unusual taco fillings. I’d like to spring these on him to keep him on his toes : )

sarah12/07/2012 - 1:38 pm

This made me laugh out loud. I like you.
And basil slaw? Goodness, that sounds incredible.

Sonja12/07/2012 - 8:09 pm

I could have sworn I looked here when I was researching for our recent taco round up, but I just saw these! I think I may ad an addendum :) These look delicious!

Hannah13/07/2012 - 12:38 am

Yes! Savory fruit, an always-right taco, and a wee smidge of sticking it to the man. A perfect post! Love this one Laura, abd canr wait to try lime with basil with corn with peach – a perfect summer bite.

kelsey15/07/2012 - 5:44 pm

Hear hear, woman. There is no room for taco-police or culinary egos in my kitchen. I love your take. And glad to see you took the S&H gig.

Beth {local milk}18/07/2012 - 3:22 pm

I’m so glad you discovered my blog because if you hadn’t I might not have discovered yours! I’m always looking eagerly for a new source of inspiration and even though there are a blue billion food blogs, it’s hard to find! So excited to find yours. The design & aesthetic are right up my alley. Totally a subscriber now!

Weekly Top 10s | 80twenty18/07/2012 - 4:04 pm

[...] Ooh man! You’re speaking my language, Laura.Peachy corn succotash tacos with lentils + basil slaw [...]

Courtney21/07/2012 - 5:47 pm

These tacos look amazing! I’ve been using peaches in a lot of savory dishes lately because they have been overflowing at the farmer’s market. And, to the person who thinks there’s a “right” taco: cooking is an art form where bending and breaking the rules are encouraged. It’s constantly evolving…

[...] Peachy Corn Succotash Tacos with Lentils + Basil Slaw from The First mess [...]

[...] Peachy Corn Succotash Tacos with Lentils and Basil Slaw from Laura @ The First Mess [...]

[...] 1. Peachy Corn Succotash Tacos with Lentils & Basil Slaw from The First Mess [...]

suzi21/08/2013 - 11:34 am

i wish to make these and make them well. how do you suggest warming the tortillas? mine are always tough and chewy. thanks!!

Laura Wright21/08/2013 - 12:01 pm

Hi Suzi! If you have a gas stove, it’s nice to just warm them over a low flame directly on the burner. Usually I just wrap a bunch up in foil and place them in a 350 oven for 15 minutes or so and cover them with a lightly damp towel once they’re out to keep them warm/avoid over-drying. Hope that helps!
-L

Emily10/07/2014 - 8:03 am

everything looks absolutely delicious!

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