Episode 91 Using Summer Veggies
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It is July in Kansas and that means an abundance of summer produce. I haven’t had a garden in several years, but I still have access to lots of fresh tomatoes, zucchini and other summer produce either from friends or farmer’s markets.
This week’s podcast is for the people who use recipes as suggestions. I hope to give you lots of ideas to spark your creativity and get you thinking about how you can use summer veggies.
There is nothing better than a home-grown tomato. Every summer I make fresh tomato pasta. It is from an old recipe by Christopher Kimball. Pound of tomatoes are diced and mixed with olive oil, garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and a few dried herbs. It sits on the counter at room temperature for several hours. Hot, cooked pasta is poured over the tomato mixture which warms up the tomatoes. It is delicious and I usually only make it once a year.
Fresh salsa is another great way to use garden tomatoes. You can make it chunky or mix it in the blender to make it smooth, either way, try it with On The Boarder Café Style tortilla chips. They make all the difference.
BLT is a summer classic. I like to cook my bacon in the oven. You can do this ahead of time for fast and easy sandwiches. In our home BLTs must always be made on toast. The crunchy toast contrasts with the soft and juicy tomato. I firmly believe you should sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the tomato as you assemble the sandwich. The salt makes the tomato burst with flavor. If you are like my brother-in-law, you may even want to add a gooey fried egg on top.
Caprese salad is a summer classic. Tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella are drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil. You can make it on skewers, plates and platters. Any way you serve it, caprese salad is always a win!
My favorite thing to do with cherry or grape tomatoes is to blister them. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. (I buy my parchment paper 500 or 1000 sheets at time.) Blistered tomatoes can be a bit messy and lining the pan is essential for cleanup. Put the tomatoes on the lined baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil and salt. Place them under the broiler until the skins split and begin to have some black spots. You can serve blistered tomatoes warm or cold. I like them cold on toast with a little basil and goat cheese.
Zucchini is a bit ubiquitous this time of year. I like my zucchini with a side of sugar, flour and cocoa powder. (Give me a chocolate zucchini cake any day.) If your kids balk at zucchini bread or cake, you may want to try peeling the zucchini before shredding it. It helps avoid the flecks of green.
Zoodles are all the rage. You can buy them pre-made in the fresh or frozen sections of the grocery store. If you want to make your own and don’t have a spiralizer, you can use a mandolin, or even a vegetable peeler to make ribbons of zoodles. No matter how you get them, it is important to salt them first and not overcook them.
My favorite way to eat zucchini (that doesn’t qualify as dessert) is grilled with a drizzle of Greek salad dressing. (My salad dressing recipe is in the cookbook.) I cut the zucchini in planks and sprinkle with salt. I gently press it with a towel and then put on a super-hot grill until well charred. I serve it with a drizzle of the Greek salad dressing.
One of the best parts of summer bounty is fresh herbs. Simply chop a few and sprinkle on almost anything. It can be that simple. You can make pesto with basil or ranch dressing with dill. My kid’s love rosemary roasted potatoes. I dice potatoes and mix with olive oil, salt, and lots of chopped, fresh rosemary. Roast them on a baking sheet at 425 until brown and crispy. You will be a dinner hero!