Taste Of Summer

Published on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 23:43 - Written by By Christine Gardner food@tylerpaper.com

A visit to the farmers market, roadside produce stand or a walk through a vegetable garden brings fresh ingredients to the table and inspiration in the kitchen.

This time of year it’s common to hear people swapping recipes as they stand by the zucchinis, squash or tomatoes. They enthusiastically share their favorite way to prepare and enjoy summer fresh fruits and vegetables.

For many, summer wouldn’t be complete without homegrown tomatoes and other assorted vegetables. Some might even try melons or strawberries. And if you don’t have room to grow them yourself, you probably don’t have to go far to find a friend or neighbor who has grown too many.

This week’s recipes are from readers who either grow their own fruit, vegetables or herbs every summer or frequent the farm stands and farmers markets. These summer produce enthusiasts love their fruits and vegetables, and are always looking for new ways to enhance the taste of summer.

Ruth’s Summer Casserole


1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 medium onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 medium zucchini

1 medium summer yellow squash

1 large potato

1 large tomato

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (chopped)

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1 cup shredded Italian cheese


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic. Sauté onions in a skillet with olive oil until softened (roughly 5 minutes) then add the garlic until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes). While the onion and garlic are sautéing, thinly slice the rest of the vegetables. Slice them into the same shape. I used a mandolin but you also could use a food processor or by hand as well (just try to get them to be as close to the same thickness as possible). Spray the inside of an 8×8 square or round baking dish with nonstick spray. Spread the softened onion and garlic in the bottom of the dish. Place the thinly sliced vegetables in the baking dish vertically, in an alternating pattern. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, top with cheese and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.

Recipe by Ruth Stankewitz


Stuffed Sweet Peppers


8 medium sweet banana peppers

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup cooked and drained spinach

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

2 cups prepared marinara


Cut the tops off the peppers and clean out the seeds and ribs. Rub the peppers with olive oil and set aside. In a large bowl combine the ricotta, breadcrumbs, spinach, egg, salt, pepper, parmesan and chopped tomato. Stir to combine. Using a small spoon begin stuffing the mixture into the peppers. Pour one cup marinara in the bottom of a baking dish. Place the stuffed peppers in the dish. Put spoonfuls of leftover stuffing between the peppers. Top with the remaining cup of marinara. Add a sprinkle of parmesan to the top of the baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes until peppers are tender and sauce is bubbling.

Recipe by Christine Gardner


Carleen’s Noonday Onion & Potato Gratin


3 red potatoes

3 small Noonday onions

1/2 pound white cheddar, shredded

1 1/2 cups half & half, warmed

Pinch fresh Nutmeg

3 tablespoons butter, cut into tiny pieces


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an oval casserole dish with butter, and then pour in 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream to coat the bottom. Add the nutmeg to the remaining cream and keep warm on the stove. Slice potatoes and onions very thin with a mandolin. Layer 1/2 of the potato slices on the bottom of the casserole dish, overlapping to get a snug fit. Next, layer half of the onion slices in the same manner. Cover with half of the grated cheddar, then repeat potatoes, onions, cheese. Dot the top with butter pieces, and then pour cream over top. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 20-30 minutes, or until the top is browned and potatoes are tender. Do not overcook or cook too hot to speed up the process or your cheese sauce will separate.

Recipe by Carleen Dark


Berny’s Lemongrass Tea


Small bundle of lemongrass

6 cups water

Sugar, honey or any other sweetener


In a large teapot, combine lemongrass and water. Bring to a boil. Let boil for about five to ten minutes or until it reaches a rich golden color. Turn heat off and let steep for about 5 minutes. Remove and discard lemongrass. Do not be surprised by a bit of a waxy residue left in the tea. Lemongrass is also used for its oil. If serving hot: pour directly into a teacup and sweeten as needed. If serving cold: pour into a pitcher, add 2 cups of water and sweeten as needed. Serve chilled. Note: Served hot or iced, lemongrass tea is a refreshing accompaniment to many different types of cuisine. Lemongrass plants can be found in the herb section of your local plant nursery. It can also be purchased in tea bags or loose tea online or health food stores. According to webmd.com, pregnant or nursing women should not consume lemongrass tea.

Recipe by Berny Duke


Purple Pea and Grilled Corn Salad


2 cups raw fresh shelled purple hull peas

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

3 ears of corn

2 pieces bacon, small dice

2 large tomato, seeded and small diced

1/2 cucumber seeded and small dice

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced

2 teaspoons honey

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup extra virgin olive oil


Rinse peas in cold water in a colander. Pour stock into a large saucepan. Add peas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes until peas are tender. Drain and cool peas. Heat a small skillet to medium heat. Add bacon and brown lightly. Remove bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Allow to cool. Heat a grill to medium-high. Pull husks and silks off the corn. Rub corn with canola oil. Grill 2 to 3 minutes per side until slightly charred. Allow corn to cool. Stand the corn up on a cutting board and slice off kernels. Add kernels to cooled peas. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe by Christine Gardner


Grilled Eggplant Skewers


4 Japanese-style eggplants

4 homegrown tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

2 cups warm rice, already prepared

grated parmesan, for sprinkling


Cut the ends of the eggplant. Cut into large cubes. Core tomatoes and cut into equally large chunks. Place the eggplant and tomatoes in a large bowl. Toss with the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add to skewers, alternating the eggplant with the tomatoes. Clean your grill and spray with non-stick spray. Heat to medium. Grill the skewers on both sides until tomatoes begin to caramelize and eggplant is tender. About five minutes per side. Remove the vegetables from the skewers and toss with the rice. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Recipe by Christine Gardner


Michele’s Peach & Watermelon Salsa


3 ripe peaches, peeled, diced

3 cups seedless watermelon, diced

1 seedless cucumber, peeled, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, minced

1 small red onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon lime zest

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

Freshly ground pepper

8 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of garlic salt


Stir together the lime zest, lime juice, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Add the watermelon, cucumber, peaches, jalapeno, onion and basil and toss gently. Chill the salsa until ready to serve. Add the garlic salt just before serving. Add salsa to grilled shrimp tacos or on white flaky fish or pork cutlets. You can keep it simple and serve with chips.

Recipe by Michele Merryman


Berny’s Mint Tea


10 sprigs fresh mint

5 to 6 cups water

Sugar, honey or desired sweetener


For this recipe I used a tea steeper, but you also can just take the sprigs and make tea in a two-quart saucepan or pot. If using a tea steeper, strip mint leaves off and place in the compartment. Bring water to a boil. Once it boils, turn off and let it steep for 5-10 minutes. The tea will be an amber color. If serving hot, pour into cup and sweeten as desired. If serving cold, pour into a pitcher, dilute by adding 2 cups of water, sweetened as desired. Serve chilled. My grandmother made this for us growing up. It has many homeopathic benefits! Mint tea can be served hot or cold. It is best served after a meal to cleanse the palate, but can be enjoyed anytime. Mint is extremely easy to grow and can be invasive if you let it.

Recipe by Berny Duke


Carleen’s Summer Melon Salsa


1 1/2 cups cubed watermelon

1 1/2 cups cubed cantaloupe

2 Jacksonville tomatoes, diced

2 peaches, diced

1 jicama, peeled and diced

1 small Noonday onion, finely diced

2 jalapeno peppers

1 lime, juiced

2 tablespoons balsamic

drizzle of honey

1 teaspoon fresh finely chopped mint

12 basil leaves, chopped

salt and pepper


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and serve with Tostito scoops. This salsa also is good served on top of grilled shrimp or chicken.

Recipe by Carleen Dark