Using up the harvest
By KAREN K. WILL
Despite its nagging demands for water and protection from pests, your backyard garden is your biggest resource all summer long. Not only does it provide you with the freshest, best-tasting varieties of vegetables and herbs, it also saves you money and delivers better food than you could get in any restaurant. However, if you’re a harried gardener, like so many of us are, you find yourself stumped at dinner time by how best to use that harvest basket full of freshness.
Year after year, the National Gardening Association surveys members for the most popular homegrown vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, summer squash, onions, and sweet and hot peppers are always on the list. From salads and salsas, to main dishes and dessert, relish your backyard abundance with these simple garden-fresh recipes. To avoid the weekly meal rush, double any recipe, and enjoy leftovers the next day.
Avocado corn salad
The flavors of Mexico combine to make this salad irresistible. Serve with a bowl of organic corn chips for dipping, or as a side dish for grilled fish or other meat. Yields 4 servings.
2 large ears sweet corn
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Husk sweet corn and remove all strings. Wash off and dry thoroughly. In large bowl, hold corn vertically and cut away kernels.
Add avocado, tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro; mix well. Stir in lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat well.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Check flavor and adjust seasonings as needed.
Creamy cucumber raita
A traditional Indian dish that tempers spicy curries, this salad makes the perfect summer snack served with flatbread or pita, or as an accompaniment to barbecued meat. Cucumbers have high water content, so it’s necessary to remove as much as possible to avoid a watery salad. Yields 4 servings.
2 large cucumbers, peeled, cored and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or basil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Place cucumbers in colander. Add salt and toss to combine. Allow cucumbers to drain for 30 minutes. Pour out drained cucumbers onto clean, lint-free tea towel and pat dry. Set aside.
In large bowl, combine yogurt and mayonnaise. Whisk to combine. Stir in garlic and mint. Add cucumbers and toss to coat well. Season with sea salt and pepper.
Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Pickled hot pepper
This truly is “restaurant-style” salsa, and it’s so easy you won’t believe it. Serve with homemade corn chips: Just quarter corn tortillas and fry in peanut oil, then top with sea salt. Yields 4 servings.
1 1/2 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped hot peppers, such as jalapenos, with seeds
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 small onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Combine all ingredients and season with salt. Stir well.
Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature to allow flavors to meld before serving.
Zucchini goat cheese tart
Summer squash has a reputation for blandness. This is a great way to dress it up and make a meal of it. If you’re not a lover of goat cheese, substitute ricotta or cottage cheese. Yields 4 servings
1 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons raw sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, very cold or frozen, cubed
1/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 small or 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 ounces chevre (goat cheese)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
Zest of 1 small lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
To make crust:
In food processor bowl, place flour, salt, and sugar; pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly, about 10 seconds. With machine off, sprinkle ice water over mixture. Process just until dough holds together.
Dump mixture onto floured surface and knead until dough sticks together well, just a few seconds. Shape into ball and place on square of plastic wrap. Press down to form disk. Wrap disk and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.
Just before preparing filling, heat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
To make filling:
In large bowl, combine olive oil, zucchini, squash, garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat well; set aside.
In medium bowl, combine goat cheese, Parmesan, tarragon, lemon zest and juice, and egg. Stir to thoroughly combine; set aside.
On lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into 14-inch round. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
Spread goat cheese mixture over crust, leaving 2-inch border around edges. Place coated zucchini and squash slices over cheese in circular pattern, slightly overlapping pieces. Fold dough edge over veggies to form rustic crust.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle basil leaves on top, cut into wedges, and serve.
Pasta mascarpone with heirloom tomatoes
This easy-to-make pasta dish combines sweet cherry tomatoes, smoky bacon, and creamy mascarpone cheese. Does it get much better than that?
3 slices bacon
1 onion, halved and sliced
1 pint multicolored heirloom cherry tomatoes
Sea salt and pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
9 ounces spiral pasta
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
Handful fresh basil
Fry bacon in large skillet until crispy. Remove and drain on paper-towel-lined plate. Pour out all but a thin layer of bacon fat. Add onion and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onions are soft. Add cherry tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, just until skins start to crack. Season with sea salt and pepper, and drizzle some olive oil over mixture. Remove from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
Place mascarpone in large serving bowl. Pour hot pasta on top of cheese and toss. Once cheese has melted and coated pasta, add onion and tomato mixture, and toss to combine. Tear or chop fresh basil and mix in. Crumble bacon and sprinkle over dish. Season with additional sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.
Sweet corn and cheese grits with grilled shrimp
Cheese grits are delicious any time of year, but when combined with fresh sweet corn and spicy chipotle chiles, a special kind of dish is served – this one is great for company. Substitute fresh jalapenos for the chipotle in adobo sauce if you prefer. Yields 4 servings.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder or seafood rub
20 large wild-caught U.S. shrimp, cleaned, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels
2 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked regular grits
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons sour cream
Minced chives or cilantro, optional
In medium bowl, combine olive oil, honey, and chile powder. Whisk to combine. Add shrimp and toss to coat well. Set aside.
To prepare grits:
Combine corn, 1/2 cup milk, and chipotle chile in blender or food processor. Pulse until corn is just chopped. Set aside.
In large saucepan, over medium-high heat, combine remaining milk, water, and salt. Bring to a simmer and gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until thick, stirring often.
Add corn mixture to grit mixture, and stir and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and sour cream until everything is melted and combined. Cover and keep warm.
To prepare shrimp:
Heat cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add marinated shrimp to pan and sear until pink, about 1 minute on each side. Do not overcook.
Spoon warm grits into serving bowls and top with shrimp. Sprinkle with minced chives or cilantro, if desired.
Excerpted from Grit, Celebrating Rural America Since 1882. To read more articles from Grit, please visit www.grt.com or call (866) 624-9388 to subscribe.
Copyright 2018 by Ogden Publications Inc.
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