This 4th of July, celebrate America's birthday by celebrating its bounty. If you're throwing a cook-out or attending a picnic, making a dish based on fruits, vegetables, and grains native to North America can help deepen the meaning of the day, while adding a fruited plain's worth of deliciousness. While many native North American foods are associated with autumnal dishes and Thanksgiving (pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, wild rice stuffing), I've gathered all the most summery recipes featuring the land's best. And though I haven't yet made most of these recipes myself, they're all from my most-trusted sources.
Tomatoes, Corn: The Corn Bread Salad from Smitten Kitchen is exactly what I would bring to a 4th of July picnic, and I may in fact make it tonight (to practice, of course).
Lima Beans, Tomatoes, Corn, Squash: I was first introduced to the wonderful world of succotash by Jen Moeller of Tom Eats Jen Cooks. She made a creamy version that was perfect for a Thanksgiving feast, but I think a lighter version like the Succotash of Fresh Corn, Lima Beans, Tomatoes, and Onions from Epicurious is ideal for summer. Many recipes recommend adding zucchini as well.
Sunflower, Pumpkin, Corn: 101 Cookbooks' Summer Corn Salad packs an All-American punch, with plenty of fresh corn and toasted sunflower seeds & pepitas. Perfect to bring to a picnic!
Corn, Chives: The Garden Corn Chowder from The Post-Punk Kitchen is ultra-creamy, thanks to coconut milk, and would be excellent served hot or cold.
Pole Beans, Corn, Tomatoes: The New York Daily News featured Power Foods' Green Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salad, and it's the epitome of summer.
Wild Rice, Pecans, Cranberries, Concord Grapes: The Barefoot Contessa's Wild Rice Salad is best served at room temperature (making your life easier) and contains a whopping four native North American foods ... if you substitute Concord grapes for green grapes, which I highly recommend you do.
Plums, Pecans: If you've got the grill fired up, why not throw on a few quartered plums for Serious Eats' Grilled Plum Salad?
Pole Beans: This is the easiest recipe of the bunch: Sarah's Cucina Bella pole beans marinated in Italian dressing for a few hours, and then thrown on the grill. Apparently, they're as fabulous as they are foolproof.
Sunflowers, Tomatoes: If any of your guests are vegan or lactose-intolerant, they'll adore you for making The Post-Punk Kitchen's Sunflower Mac, a sunflower seed-based version of everyone's favorite, macaroni & cheese.
Blueberries, Black Raspberries, Strawberries: Blueberries, petite strawberries, and powdered sugar-dusted blackberries create the perfect red, white, and blue palette for Smitten Kitchen's over-the-top Flag Cake (or you can just use the called-for blueberries and red raspberries).
Mulberries, Pecans: My parents have two mulberry trees that I might have to raid next time I visit so I can make Chef's Table Mulberry and Pecan Bread Pudding, featured on The Kitchn's mulberry roundup. Bonus points for the all-American bourbon sauce!
Black Walnuts, Maple: Food 52's Maple Black Walnut Fudge is perfect picnic fare: no plates, flatware, or serving utensils required. Just stack and step back.
Corn, Peanuts: You will be the 4th Of July Hero if you bring Orangette's Caramel Corn With Salted Peanuts to the festivities. For the kids, right?
Huckleberries, Pecans, Maple: The Maple Huckleberry Coffee Cake from 101 Cookbooks is just the thing for the long weekend, especially if you have a houseful of guests.
Corn, Chives: One of the native North American foods that surprised me the most was chives -- I guess I'd never thought about where they came from, or considered them exotic. They are a lovely addition to a breakfast of bagels and cream cheese, or you could really live it up with Smitten Kitchen's Corn, Buttermilk, and Chive Popovers. These are best eaten when hot, so I recommend them for a nice breakfast (or lunch or dinner) at home.
Strawberries, Pecans: Another great easy-breakfast option is Smitten Kitchen's Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Loaf. Nothing says "long weekend" like a breakfast recipe that contains rum!