Beet, summer squash and butter bean sauce
Recently, whilst engaged in the sisyphean task of picking anything up off the floor with the boys home for the summer, I found a sparkly rubber bracelet. I absent-mindedly put it on my wrist and it’s been there every since. It’s a sort of golden color, and at the risk of sounding like an idiot, I can’t tell if it’s yellow or orange, so I asked Malcolm. I expected him to say “yellow” or “orange” and probably to add, “duh, mommy.” Instead he thought for a moment and said, “firefly butt, when it’s not lit.” What a perfect description of a color. Now I’m never
taking it off. We’ve been seeing a lot of fireflies lately, and there’s no question–they’re beautiful and magical. At night the fields sparkle and glow with them, and the sight of it makes me happy. But it also got me thinking, last night, as we rolled through glimmering grass in the gloaming. I was wondering if they didn’t sparkle, if they were just black bugs with reddish heads and skinny creepy legs, would we just smush them when we saw them? And butterflies, too…they’re not all that pretty without their wings, they’re very buggy and weird-looking. If they didn’t have beautiful spangled colorful wings, would they creep us out, as Isaac is fond of saying lately, and would we crush them, too? Our insect-directed morality does seem arbitrary sometimes. Take the stinkbug. I think they’re lovely. They’re so sweet in their movements, and they’re actually quite striking, in a grey way, if you look at them closely. Plus they don’t bite, as far as I know. I just read that they’re an agricultural pest, they stink, they’re not native to America and their population is growing at an alarming rate, but most of that is true of many Americans as well, going back a few centuries, so we should be able to view them with a certain empathy. And yet, I have seen it happen that our first instinct towards them is to speedily dispatch them. If only they had glowing butts! My own buggy morality is fairly arbitrary, too, I guess. I don’t like to kill anything, but I will kill ticks and mosquitoes, particularly if they’re anywhere near my boys. I’m not fond of disease-carrying blood suckers. I think certain insects do themselves a disservice by looking scarier than they actually are. This technique might serve them well in the wild, but not when there are humans around, because our automatic response to anything small and scary is to kill it. House centipedes, for instance, are supposedly beneficial insects, because they eat cockroaches and pavement ants, but they provoke instant heebie-jeebies and have, regrettably, turned into many a purple smear on our walls and ceilings. Spiders, too, are frightening sometimes, but we love our spiders around here. And, of course, they’re protected because everybody knows if you kill a spider you’ll make it rain. The moral of this buggy ramble, is “love your clumsy, slow-moving, stinky friends, because they’re might be some colossal judgmental creatures looking down on us in the same way.” Probably not, but you never know. There could
be, and we might just be creeping them out.
Now that I’ve whetted your appetite with all of this talk of stink bugs, let’s discuss food! We’re entering summer squash season, and we’re still getting lots of beets as well, from our CSA. I decided to grate the squash and beets, not only because I was too lazy to cut them up, but also because I like it when they form a melty sort of sauce. To contrast all this melty sauciness, I added plump butter beans and crisp slices of fresh red and yellow pepper. We ate this as a sauce for long pasta, but I think it would also be good over rice or couscous or toast or even in tacos.
Here’s Jackie Davis with Glow Worm Cha Cha Cha.
2 T salted butter (++)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 t rosemary, chopped
4 or 5 fresh sage leaves, or 1 t dried
1 t thyme
1 t fresh savory, chopped
2 or 3 small zucchini or pattypan squash, grated (I used the food processor!)
2 or 3 small beets, peeled and grated (food processor, again!) I used a combination of purple and golden
1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup thinly sliced red and yellow peppers
1 t smoked paprika
1/2 cup white wine
1 t balsamic
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
grated smoked gouda, to serve
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the butter. When it’s melted, add the shallot, garlic and herbs, stir and fry till the garlic starts to brown and butter is bubbly. Add the beets and squash, and stir till they’re coated with herby butter. Cook for five to ten minutes at this relatively high heat, until the squash and beets are reduced and start to brown and stick to the bottom of the pan. Add more butter and scrape the bottom of the pan if it dries out too much.
Add the butter beans to the pan, stir to coat, then add the peppers and paprika.
Add the white wine, and scrape and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add enough water to make a rosy sort of sauce. Reduce heat and simmer until the beets and zucchini are meltingly soft, and the peppers are just as crisp as you like them. Add the balsamic and lots of pepper and a little salt, and serve. We ate it over pasta with grated smoked gouda, but it would be good over any kind of grain you can think of.
Hey, you learn so much from OotO…I looked up stink bugs and find they’re what I call shield bugs. Didn’t know they were stinky, nor that they can be agricultural pests! A green one landed on me the other day while I was sitting in the garden, but we didn’t bother each other.
Don’t have stink bugs here in NZ (don’t think so anyway). Do have the weta tho which likes to hang around our wood pile. It seems too big to be an insect so is pretty scary, tho harmless. Maybe should have it’s own category (the big, scary but harmless insect category perhaps)
Ah, I think you’re absolutely right!! Those big moths, and even praying Manti, and some of the big beetles. I think their size probably protects them from birds and small mammals, but not from big mammals such as humans!
Ack! I just googled pictures of weta. Those would certainly creep me out!!
There’s also a giant weta – I won’t go into details…
Did your ever read ” Broadsides from the other Orders” by Sue Hubble? I share your feelings for bugs. I love our stink bugs. They have not bothered our plants. They have natural predators in my house… Spiders. And when I gently put them on my hand and take them outside to live free, they pause on my finger, look around, and then take flight with no need of a runway. They just propel from stationary position to flight. Now that is way cool. A UFO! Of course, if you are not gentle with them, they will make a big stink. I can’t eat coriander or cilantro because their stink smells like that plant.
Japanese beetles I squish with bare hands. And mosquitos and ticks are executed on sight.
Once I photographed a Praying Mantis on my deck. He kept turning his head to me as if posing. Our vet, Dr. Patty, told me they are so very intelligent.
I gotta check out this weta! How about the Camel Back Cricket!?