Summer is in full swing and the season's crops have exceeded expectations. Whether you frequent the farmers market or grow your own, an abundance of tomatoes, zucchini, squash, onions and other summer vegetables is a good problem to have.
Many like to mix their veggies and make it a one pot meal. Carolyn Jones, of Grand Saline, combines potatoes, onions, squash, okra and zucchini in a skillet and then serves tomatoes on the side. Add a glass of sweet tea and you've got the perfect Texas summer meal.
Others, like Jacki Grant, take fresh summer squash, onions, okra and tomatoes and slowly simmer down into a stewed mixture. The juices from the tomatoes with just a little water make the vegetables tender and flavorful.
Keep those Noonday onions on your table year round by caramelizing or sweating the onions in large batches. Freeze in snack size plastic bags and thaw as needed for year round sweet onion flavor.
Tomatoes top the list as a summer favorite and after you eat as many as possible on sandwiches, in salads or just plain sliced, try hollowing out and stuffing with a cold salad. Serve them warm stuffed with a savory mix of breadcrumbs, spinach and cheese.
To make your own sun-dried tomatoes quarter the tomatoes, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and spread in an even layer on a baking pan. Roast in a low oven for several hours until caramelized and charred. Freeze whole or pureed for later use in sauces, pizzas, spreads and antipasto platters.
GOAT CHEESE CAPRESE TERRINE
4 large tomatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
8 ounces basil pesto
4 ounces soft goat cheese, room temperature
8 ounces whipped cream cheese, room temperature
Preheat an oven to 250 degrees. On a baking sheet lined with foil toss the quartered tomatoes in the olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Arrange in one layer, cut side up and bake until tomatoes are caramelized, charred and almost dry. This could take two to three hours depending on the juiciness of the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes and any leftover oil in a food processor. Process until smooth into a paste. If the mixture is too wet, thicken by adding a small amount of grated parmesan cheese and pulse a few more times. Place the tomatoes in a small bowl. In another bowl stir to combine the goat cheese and cream cheese. Using a loaf pan or other decorative mold, line the inside with plastic wrap. Add a layer of cheese to the bottom of the mold, then a layer of tomatoes, then cheese again, then pesto, then cheese again. Place in the freezer for two hours and then in the refrigerator for one hour. Carefully lift the entire mixture out of the mold by gently pulling on the plastic wrap. Invert onto a plate and pull off the plastic wrap off. Serve with crackers or baguette slices.
Recipe by Christine Gardner
SUMMER VEGETABLE GRATIN
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
1 pound yellow squash, ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (3-4 large), sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin (about 3 cups)
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 cup of breadcrumbs
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
2 medium shallots, minced (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a 9x13 inch baking dish and set aside. Toss zucchini and squash slices with 1 teaspoon of salt in a large colander, and allow to drain about 45 minutes, or until they release 3 tablespoons of liquid. Arrange slices on a triple layer of paper towels or a dish towel, cover with a clean dish towel, and press firmly to remove as much moisture as possible. As the squash and zucchini drain, line another dish towel with the tomatoes, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Allow to stand 30 minutes, then using a clean dish towel or paper towels, press firmly to dry the tomatoes. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and dark golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside. Combine the garlic, 3 tablespoons of oil, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and thyme in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. In a large bowl, toss the squash and zucchini with half the garlic-oil mixture. Arrange in the baking dish, then top with an even layer of the onions. Slightly overlap the tomato slices in a single layer over the onions, and drizzle with the remaining oil mixture. Bake until the vegetables are softened and tomatoes are starting to brown around the edges, 40 to 45 minutes. As the vegetables cook, combine the bread crumbs, parmesan, one tablespoon oil, and shallots in a medium bowl. Remove the baking dish from the oven and increase the heat to 450. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the vegetables, and bake gratin until bubbling and lightly browned, 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with basil. Allow to sit at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe submitted by Jyll Richburg from Cook's Illustrated Magazine
ROASTED SQUASH SOUP
4 large or 6 medium yellow squash
2 Noonday onions
2 large cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whole milk or cream
˝ cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel the squash and trim ends. Cut into one inch chunks. If the squash are large and contain a lot of seeds, cut into fourths and scrape out a majority of the seeds. Spread the squash, garlic and olive oil on a baking pan. Season with salt and pepper and place in a preheated 375 degree oven. Roast until browned and caramelized about 45 minutes. Watch closely, too much charring will make the soup bitter. In a saucepan sauté the onions over medium heat in a small amount of oil until soft and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add the squash and the wine. Deglaze the pan and allow the wine to reduce slightly. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer slowly for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour into a blender in small batches and puree. Pour back into the pot while straining through a fine mesh sieve. Place over low heat and add the milk or cream and the water. Heat through and taste for seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe by Christine Gardner
LEMON-MARINATED SQUASH SALAD
4 squash, peeled
juice and zest from one lemon
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cut the ends off the squash. Using a mandoline or serrated peeler cut squash into very thin horizontal slices. Place in a medium size bowl. Using a microplane zest lemon over the squash. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice over the squash. Roughly chop crushed red pepper flakes and add to the bowl. Add remaining three ingredients and toss well. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Serve cold as a salad or side dish.
Recipe by Christine Gardner
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 slices white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
4 medium zucchini, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
4 slices bacon, chopped
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a 9- x 14-inch baking dish and spread to make a bed for the zucchini. In the bowl of a food processor, combine bread, cheese and rosemary. Pulse until bread is broken into crumbs and mixture is combined. Put zucchini on top of onions in baking dish, cut-side up. Spread the chopped bacon over the zucchini, then sprinkle with bread mixture and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Bake until zucchini is tender, about 40 minutes. Serve warm.
Recipe adapted from La Cucina Italiana Magazine