Summer Food Fresh-Picked and On Your Plate

Published on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 23:52 - Written by Christine Gardner

Visit any farmstand, farmers market, and even local grocery stores, and you'll find a plethora of fresh-picked summer produce. Squash, zucchini, tomatoes and herbs are abundant. Some other seasonal fresh treats include peaches, berries, greens, eggplant and watermelon.

It's the time of year we wait for with anticipation when we can enjoy the fruits of the farmers’ and gardeners’ labor. But how many ways can you cook a zucchini, squash or eggplant? We can always use new recipes using fresh ingredients. After all, it's our responsibility as East Texans to put every last tomato, onion, peach and basil leaf to good and delicious use.


Zucchini-Corn Sauté



1 teaspoon olive oil

3 cups cubed zucchini (about 1 pound)

1 cup whole-kernel corn

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1/2 cup feta crumbles

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper



Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and corn; cook, stirring occasionally, 7 to 8 minutes or until zucchini is crisp-tender. Remove from heat, and stir in cilantro and remaining ingredients.


Sweet Green Tomato Cornmeal Muffins



2 cups seeded, diced green tomatoes (about 3/4 lb.)

1/2 cup sugar, divided

1/2 cup butter, melted and divided 

2 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix

2 teaspoons lemon zest 

5 large eggs 

1 (16-oz.) container sour cream 

Vegetable cooking spray



Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sauté tomatoes and 2 tablespoons sugar in 2 tablespoons melted butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat 10 to 12 minutes or until tomatoes begin to caramelize and turn light brown.  Stir together cornmeal mix, lemon zest, and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together eggs, sour cream, and remaining 6 tablespoons of butter; add to cornmeal mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in tomatoes. Generously coat muffin pans with vegetable cooking spray; spoon batter into molds, filling two-thirds full. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 to 17 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Recipe from Southern Living Magazine


Grilled Eggplant Dip



2 eggplants (about 1 pound each)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, plus more for garnish

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon, divided

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper



Preheat grill to medium. Pierce eggplants all over with a knife. Place on the grill rack and roast, turning about every 5 minutes, until charred on all sides and completely soft and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. (Alternatively, char the eggplants directly over a gas flame, turning every 5 minutes, then roast in a 425 degree oven until completely soft, 10 to 20 minutes.) Let cool. Cut the eggplants in half and scoop out the flesh; finely chop with a knife or pulse in a food processor until almost smooth. Transfer the eggplant to a bowl and combine with lemon juice, mint, shallot, thyme, oregano, 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and swirl the top with the back of a spoon. Drizzle with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and sprinkle with more mint, thyme and/or oregano. Recipe from Eating Well Magazine


Chicken Pasta with Swiss Chard & Mushrooms



Salt and pepper

3/4 pound fusilli pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 bunch Swiss chard

1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles



In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain pasta and return to pot. For the chard, discard tough ends of the stems. Cut the leaves off the center stalk. Slice the stalk and leaves into 1/2 inch pieces. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add mushrooms to skillet and saute until softened and browned. Add chard and cook until wilted. Transfer mixture to pasta pot and toss. Add chicken and goat cheese and enough pasta water to create a light sauce that coats pasta; season with salt and pepper.


Frozen Basil



4 cups basil leaves (loosely packed)

1/2 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

snack size zip top bags



Place basil leaves, oil and lemon juice in the food processor. Process until smooth. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons into zip top bags. Close bags while pressing flat and removing the air from the bags. Place bags in the freezer. To use, break off pieces and let them melt into a sauce, hot pasta or a sauté pan. Or thaw to use in pesto, salad dressings or marinades. This is a great way to preserve summer basil.


Peach-Blackberry Crisp



2 pounds firm, ripe peaches—halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges

2 cups fresh blackberries

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup quick-cooking oats

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cubed



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, gently toss the peaches and blackberries with the granulated sugar and lemon juice. Transfer the fruit to an 9 x 12 baking dish. In a medium bowl, toss the oats with the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Using your fingertips, mix in the butter until the topping is crumbly. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Let the crisp cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.