Early on Saturday morning, the table displayed all the usual suspects — tomatoes, zucchini, squash, onions, watermelon, cucumbers, shelled peas, beets, carrots and a variety of fresh-grown herbs. And the usual thinking when it comes to summer produce is to preserve, pickle, freeze, stew, fry or put it in a salad.
But what if you were challenged to make summer party food with summer fresh produce as the centerpiece? Your bag of farmer’s market selections is not just for down home cooking, but the perfect ingredients for a fresh and cool summer party.
When you talk about hors d’oeuvres or finger food your mind goes to fancy ingredients or store bought dips and cheese trays. Why not create delicious tiny bites from ingredients that — during this time of year — are packed with wonderful flavor.
This week’s recipes feature tomato tarts with Jacksonville tomatoes, homemade onion dip featuring Noonday’s famous sweet onions, dressed-up slaw made from a variety of East Texas vegetable garden favorites and puff pastry pinwheels slathered with East Texas goat cheese and bright, beautiful beets.
Each of these recipes are designed to be quick, easy and full of fresh ingredients.
Jacksonville Tomato Tarts
Highlight this favorite flavor of summer — Jacksonville tomatoes — with these easy tarts. Add another fresh touch by making your own pesto with fresh basil.
1 large tomato
2 boxes of phyllo tarts
1/2 cup basil pesto
6 basil leaves
1/4 pound fontina cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Seed and chop tomato into small pieces. Cut cheese into small cubes. Stack basil leaves, roll tightly and cut into strips. Set the tart shells on a baking sheet. Add 1/2 teaspoon basil to the bottom of each tart. Top with a few small cubes of cheese and tomatoes, until full. Repeat with remaining tarts. Bake for 10 minutes or just until cheese is melted and beginning to bubble. Remove from oven and add to serving tray. Scatter strips of basil over the top of the tarts.
Noonday Onion Dip on Crispy New Potatoes
Sour cream and onion dip is a crowd favorite, but making your own with sweet Noonday onions will be the hit of your party. The Noonday onion flavor is amplified when you caramelize the onions over low and slow heat. Just mix with sour cream and mayonnaise and you’ll have the best onion dip ever. This dip is dressed up even more with homemade potato chips and a sprinkle of bacon and green onions.
1 slice bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 green onion, white and green finely chopped
2 new potatoes, sliced thin on a mandolin
1 cup canola oil
1 medium onion, peeled, halved, thinly sliced
1 cup light sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
In a saut￩ pan heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook slowly to soften and caramelize, but not brown. Should take about 15 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely. After the onions have cooled, spread them out on a cutting board and roughly chop into small pieces. In a large bowl add remaining dip ingredients and stir to combine. Stir in the onions. Refrigerate for 30 minutes are more to let flavors combine. Thinly slice the potatoes on a mandoline or with the slicing attachment of a food processor. In a straight-sided fry pan heat oil to 325 degrees. Fry slices until crisp. Top each crisp with a dollop of dip and a sprinkle of crumbled bacon and sliced green onions.
East Texas Slaw
2 ears of corn, cooked and kernels removed
1/2 head red & green cabbage
1 carrot, peeled
1/2 bell pepper
1/2 cucumber, seeded
1/2 squash, seeded
1/2 jalapeno, seeded
1 cup purple hull peas, cooked
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon sugar
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons mustard
Using the shredder attachment on the food processor, shred the cabbage, carrot, bell pepper, cucumber, squash and jalapeno. Remove to a large bowl. Add the peas and tomato. Stir to combine. In a measuring cup add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and combine completely. Let sit in the refrigerator for an hour or longer before serving. Serve in small decorative bowls or dessert cups. Garnish with a cherry tomato and a sprinkle of chopped parsley or cilantro.
Beet & Goat Cheese Pin Wheels
In this recipe a pesto is made with fresh beets and spread over puff pastry that has been slathered with a coat of goat cheese from Haute Goat Creamery in Longview. Their cheese is soft and spreadable and comes in a variety of flavors. The fuschia color of the beet pesto makes these pin wheels look like flowers. The pesto is also good over pasta and can be used the same way as basil pesto.
3 large beets, top trimmed
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of salt
2 ounces Haute Goat goat cheese (any flavor or plain)
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the beets. Boil for 20 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and cool the beets. Peel the outer skin off the beets. Chop into quarters and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add the garlic, walnuts, lemon juice and olive oil and pulse into smooth. Add the Parmesan and continue pulsing until you have a thick spread. (This makes about 2 cups of pesto. You will only need 1/2 cup for the pinwheels. Freeze the rest to use on pasta. Or mix 1 tablespoon of pesto with Italian dressing to make a beet vinaigrette.) Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork. Sprinkle flour on a clean work surface. Unfold the pastry sheet on the work surface. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture. Using a spatula, spread the goat cheese over the pastry. Top with 1/2 cup pesto spread over the goat cheese. Starting at a short side, roll up like a jelly roll. Cut into about 20 (1/2-inch) slices. Place the slices, cut-side down, onto 2 baking sheets. Brush the slices with the egg mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.