I am really excited I decided to take part in the Summer Food 2010 Project. Even more excited that they let me, thanks The Because Show! The project involves podcasters and bloggers taking on one topic and putting their own spin on it, the topic being summer food. Taking part in a CSA our summer meals are centered around the produce we get for the week, our meals are always jammed packed with fresh picked goodness. We tend to get a lot of repeat vegetables from week to week, so it is always fun to find new ways to enjoy them. So here is my spin on summer food..
Summer is pure eating. Pure eating in the sense that there is an abundant selection of food to eat in their pure form. Is there anything better than biting into a tomato fresh off the vine? I think not. That is unless you prefer corn so sweet you can eat it raw, or the amazing scent of fresh picked basil, maybe blueberries or strawberries are your preference, or watermelon so juicy it runs down your arm. What about cucumbers? Spicy is your thing? Than likely you prefer homegrown peppers, the spicier the better. Pure summer!
Mother Nature is one smart lady, she provides foods that are best enjoyed in this pure form. Keeping it simple is often best with summer foods, especially since it keeps you out of a hot kitchen on those dog days of summer. But who isn’t up for a little excitement, changing things up, keep them interesting. I know I am! Here is my A to Z of summer foods, with a twist.
Growing basil could not be easier. I love picking it; the smell is so divine to me. Of course pesto is a great option for all the basil, freezing it is perfect way to enjoy it year round. Here is a recipe to incorporate basil with the drink that is synonyms with summer. Lemonade. This basil lemonade really hits the spot on a hot summer day. Can I recommend Effen Black Cherry Vodka into, it is f’in good.
Enjoy blueberries with this twist on blueberry jam, blueberry, apricot, and basil spread. Helps put the basil abundance to use too. It is great on toast, heated on ice cream, or even as a topping for a cheesecake. for an easy appetizer, top a brie with the spread, sprinkle blueberries on the plate, and server with crackers. Delicious. Of course dessert with berries is a no-brainer, this Blueberry cake is great.
Though berries are not only for dessert though, throw them in salad. They go especially well with a balsamic dressing. He is a great appetizer, strawberry bruschetta, it is sure to please. I bet you could even swap in blueberry for the strawberry with an equally delicious result.
Broccoli is a challenge to get past the kids, I hate to smother it in cheese all the time. I find putting it in things is the best way to pass it off. Substitute any vegetables you have on hand. No pie crust? Try leftover spaghetti or rice mixed with a bit of egg instead. Or just skip it all together and make it frittata style.
Broccoli Basil Quiche
1 pan lined with pie dough
1 cup finely dice broccoli
2 green onions, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar or gruyere cheese
1 T. flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
2 T. basil pesto
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1/8 t. garlic powder
Heat oven 425 degrees.
Prick bottom and sides of crust and line with foil. Bake 8 minutes, remove foil, and bake another 8 minutes.
Reduce oven to 325 degrees.
Toss broccoli, green onions, cheese, and flour in a bowl.
Spread mixture over bottom of the crust.
Whisk together remaining ingredients in the bowl.
Pour filling into crust.
Bake until knife inserted near center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes.
We eat a lot of cilantro and I have tried many times to grow it but always fail. Not sure what I am doing wrong. Paul Newman makes a kick-ass lime vinaigrette that is so good on salad and Mexican food. This is nearly as good, though not for those people that think cilantro tastes like soap.
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
2/3 cup lime juice
3 T. minced garlic
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup packed cilantro
Tabasco to taste
1 T. cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
Place all ingredients, except oil, in the blender. Blend and drizzle in oil.
Peeling corn transforms me back to our back patio with a brown paper grocery bag. It was always the kids job to husk the corn. I do the same with my kids, those we mostly grill it in the husk these days. Corn is such a great summer food. When it is good it is great, and you can eat it raw. Skip the butter, it overpowers the flavor of the corn in my opinion. Just a touch of salt does for me.
Corn Have you seen the Mirai corn? I hadn’t until this week and now I see it everywhere. May be it is just a locally available hybrid, it was developed in IL. They tout it as the ultimate sweet corn, a few of the sign even noted how it goes for as much as $30 ear in China. I paid $4 for 6 ears, not sure how that compares to other corn. I gave it a try and it was very delicious, sweet and not chewy. It was actually very juicy.
Corn Summer Salad
6 large ears white corn, husked
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup (packed) thinly sliced fresh basil
5 plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Using large knife, cut corn kernels from cob.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.
Sauté garlic about 1 minute. Add corn and heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Note: Keep the corn raw if you prefer, especially during the height of corn season. Remove from heat, cool slightly. In large bowl combine all ingredients, season to taste. Chill and serve.
Another item in abundance in our weekly CSA bag. Definitely need a good way to use these,beyond in a tomato cumber salad. Rick Bayless has a great recipe for a cucumber margarita. Another great way to sock them away for later is this recipe for freezer pickles. Crazy I know, who knew you could freeze cucumbers. They are delicious, even better when you spice them up with peppers or crushed red pepper.
Salad Greens are a weekly staple. Lucky for us we like salad as a main course for dinner. Throw in a protein of choice and whatever vegetables and fresh herbs on hand. This arugula salad recipe is to die for, would be great with any greens I am sure. even better when thrown on grilled flat bread or pizza. Swiss chard is favorite for us too, once cooked up is great in quesadillas or cooked with ground meat for tacos. All cooked greens are great in stir fry or sautéed with garlic and a touch of sesame oil.
Summer squash, while always great on the grill drizzled with balsamic syrup or your favorite vinaigrette, some days you just don’t want to fire up the grill. Pickles are a great options, especially to enjoy in the dead of winter. This pickled summer squash recipe is great as a side dish or tossed into your salad. Works well on a relish tray too. Change up the spices, I made a batch with red curry powder in place of the turmeric. Spice it up anyway you choose.
Summer tomatoes are almost of no relation to the tomatoes of winter. I can barely bring myself to eat them outside of the summer months. The options are endless for enjoying tomatoes; eat them like an apple, slice them with a little bit of salt or oil and vinegar for a salad, include them in a ploughman’s lunch. Though, without a doubt, my favorite way to eat them is as a tomato sandwich. Instantly transforms me back to my parents screened in porch enjoying dinner and a Cubs game on tv.
While great alone, even if it is messy, is a standout in this watermelon mojito. Almost too good, they are dangerous. Another favorite watermelon dish is the watermelon feta salad. The salt of the cheese, spice of the red pepper, sweet of the watermelon; a trio of YUM.
Watermelon Feta Salad
3 cups 2-inch chunks watermelon, seeded
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Combine in large bowl and enjoy!
We get a huge abundance of zucchini from the CSA, grilling it gets old fast. A good option is to slice it in the long ribbons and use as a pasta substitute with ground beef and tomato sauce. I also grate it and freeze it, it is so easy to sneak it in recipes that way. Meatloaf, turkey burgers, spaghetti sauce, quiche, muffins, chocolate cake. This zucchini bake is a favorite with the kids, the downside is you have to heat the oven.
Savory Zucchini Bake
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup Bisquick
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 t. each salt and pepper
1 T. minced garlic
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (parmesan, Swiss, or whatever you prefer)
2 T. chopped parsley (or fresh herb of choice)
1/2 t. seasoned salt
1/2 cup oil
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease 9 x 13-inch pan.
Mix all ingredients and pour into pan.
Bake 30 minutes.
It’s like the post that never ends, I could go on and on my friends. Curious, what is your favorite way to enjoy summer foods? What summer food invokes your best childhood memories?
Be sure to check out the other participants and join in the conversation around Summer food!