Summer Salad with Tapenade

We’ve officially entered my favorite month of the year. And I do mean entered, because my favorite month is not August, but mid-August through mid-September. In my mind the best produce isn’t limited to calendar months, but this last third of summer. While we’re still enjoying cucumbers, zucchini, and green beans, tomatoes start to come in hot, as well as eggplant, peppers. Sweet corn kernels burst off the cob, melons are ripe, berries are still in full swing. Greens love the relief from the hot weather, and then we start to see some fall veg come in. There really aren’t enough meals in the day to eat all the goodness.

This salad is a bounty in a bowl. Take whatever veg you have and toss it with a bold tapenade for an easy dinner. The mix of cooked and raw vegetables makes for an interesting salad, and it’s vegan if you leave out the anchovy. Add in some additional protein like beans, hard-boiled eggs, or cooked meats if you want to bulk it up.

My full share this week was potatoes, husk cherries, tomatoes, scallions, fresh onions, hole-y arugula, carrots, holy basil, zucchini, shishito peppers, melon, and a few tiny eggplant. For lunch one day I made egg salad sandwiches with arugula and tomato. Half a giant zucchini, a tomato, and some onions went into a savory galette inspired by this one and this one, served with blistered shishitos on the side. My remaining zucchini and scallions are going alongside this Yakitori-style salmon (NYTimes link). Holy basil is going into Pad Kra Pao. I highly recommend embracing the slightly lower temps to turn on your oven for roasted eggplant and cherry tomato pizza or Athena bowls.

Summer Salad with Tapenade

Serves 4

Adapted from Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark

  • 1 medium eggplant (or about 6 fairytale)
  • 1 medium zucchini (or half a large one)
  • 1 lb new potatoes
  • ½ lb green beans
  • 1 bunch of arugula (about 4 oz), chopped
  • 1 large tomato
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more fore drizzling
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 ¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • ½ cup chopped parsley (a large handful)
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1 anchovy
  • Juice of ½ a lemon, plus extra wedges for serving
  • 1 anchovy filet
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. Chop the eggplant and zucchini into 1/2 inch cubes. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 30-35 minutes, tossing halfway through, until completely soft and browned at the edges. Let cool.

While the eggplant and zucchini are roasting, place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water (we’re going to cook the beans with the potatoes in the came pot, so make sure it is big enough for both). My potatoes were quite varied sizes, so if that’t the case cut the larger ones in half or quarters so they match. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce all the way through. In the last minute of cooking put the green beans in the pot. Drain both and let cool.

Chop the tomatoes and halve the cherry tomatoes. Combine them in a bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

In a food processor fitted with the S-blade, start the motor and drop the garlic clove in from the top. When you can’t hear it bouncing around anymore stop the machine and wipe down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add in the olives, capers, parsley, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, juice from 1/2 a lemon, and anchovy fillet. Pulse a couple times, then scrape down the sides. Pulse again until the olives are uniformly chopped but not pureed.

Build salads with a base of arugula, topped with potatoes, roasted eggplant and zucchini, green beans, a few scoops of tomatoes, and a dollop of tapenade. Finish with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.

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Grilled Zucchini Bowls with Chickpeas and Pesto

Now is not the time for turning on the oven or storage vegetables, but I was craving my winter root veg bowls so an update to the cooking method and vegetables was in order. I love this concept though – a ton of vegetables, chickpeas for heft and texture, plus a vibrant green sauce to tie everything together. This version has the “it” vegetable of July, summer squash, and any variety works – zucchini, yellow summer squash, pattypan squash. Grilling summer squash is my favorite summer preparation, but you can pan fry or roast.

This meal is easily scale-able – in my house one can of chickpeas is two servings, so you can easily halve or up it. The pesto should make enough for 6+ servings, and you can serve it on toast with eggs, over tomatoes and burrata, or on pizza.

My full share this week was two heads of lettuce, summer squash, rainbow carrots, fresh onions, cabbage, young leeks, kale, broccoli leaves, and purple basil. I used rainbow carrots, some of the cabbage, and the purple basil in a slaw I served atop rice noodles and some grilled BBQ tofu for a summer cold noodle situation. I used grilled extra squash while I was making these bowls to use in my favorite enchiladas (forgive the low-light photo – they are great!!) that I also stuck some chopped kale and onion tops into. Salad options for alllll that lettuce include: BBQ chicken peach, tzatziki with marinated lentils, chipotle ranch. I’m thinking about cooking the broccoli leaves and tougher, outer cabbage leaves a la collards for this dish, or in collards with peanut butter (don’t knock it til you try it). Hot, humid days call for cool beverages like these herbal citrus refreshers.

Grilled Zucchini Bowls with Chickpeas and Pesto

Serves 4

  • 2 large summer squash (mine were 40 oz total)
  • 2 cups packed soft herbs, such as basil, parsley, cilantro, dill and scallions (I used 1/4 cup of each of the above except basil)
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more if needed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
  • 3 fresh onions (or 1 large onion), thinly sliced

Heat up a grill on high. Thickly slice the summer squashes, and coat with olive oil (3-4 tablespoons), salt, and pepper. Grill for 10-15 minutes, until they are thoroughly charred an soft all the way through (the flesh turns from an opaque white to more translucent). Let the squash cool, and then chop into 1/2″ pieces.

Thinly slice the onions. Heat up a large, deep skillet on medium high and pour in 1/2 cup olive oil. Add in the onions, and cook for 7-10 minutes, until they start to brown at the edges. While the onions are cooking, drain and rinse the chickpeas. After the onions are browned add the chickpeas, plus a few pinches of salt and grinds of pepper. Cook 10-15 minutes, until the chickpeas are visibly darkened and have a nice, crispy outside.

Turn on a food processor with the S blade in and drop the garlic cloves through the opening at the top. When the garlic cloves stop bouncing around they are fully minced. Turn the food processor off and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper, herbs, pine nuts, and lemon juice. Turn the food processor on to puree everything, then drizzle in 1/4 cup olive oil so a smooth sauce forms (more if needed). Alternatively, very finely mince the garlic, herbs, and pine nuts (or mash in a mortal and pestle), then stir in the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Build the bowls by dividing up the summer squash and chickpeas into 4 bowls then topping with a big spoonful of pesto. Serve with more pesto and olive oil for drizzling.

(Crumbled feta like I use in the winter version of this dish would be delicious on top.)

Chipotle Ranch Salads

My full Potter Hill share this week is two heads of lettuce, perpetual spinach, chard, kale, fresh onions, scallions, carrots, parsley, dill, and summer squash (what a bounty!!!). Since making 6 servings of the salad below only used up 1 giant head of lettuce, more salad is still in my future!! I’m planning to make chicken caesar wraps with this dressing, but this barbecue chicken salad with peaches is another excellent option. On Monday I went the classic easy dinner route, and make quesadillas with some sauteed chard, leftover grilled zucchini, and leftover grilled chicken and steak. I used the kale, perpetual spinach, and onion tops to make beans and greens, a perennial favorite (funnily enough I joked in that post about no one being able to leave the house without a salad that week…a familiar feeling). You can never go wrong with onion dip, but know that making your own will change you forever.

Now that we’re in the heart of zucchini season, here are a bunch of favorites: zucchini carbonara, zucchini herb salad, zucchini and corn enchiladas, summer quinoa salad, and pasta with zucchini, feta, and fried lemon (NYT). Whenever in doubt, cut long thick slices, coat them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and throw them on the grill with whatever else you are grilling. Finish with some lemon juice and a shower of herbs, or maybe even some pesto.

Chipotle Ranch Salads

Serves 6

This kind of salad works with whatever you’ve got. Leftover cooked meats and vegetables, or any other raw veg are great toppings. Mix it up!!

Dressing

  • ¼ cup plain yogurt or mayo (I used 2 tablespoons of each)
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon liquid from chipotles en adobo
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Salad

  • 1 head of lettuce, chopped
  • 1 summer squash, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (1/4 of a large head)
  • 2 15-ounce cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese (not pictured, because I forgot in this photo)
  • 1 small fresh onion, diced (pickled would be even better)
  • 2 cups crumbed tortilla chips

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. Ideally you will do this before you prep the rest of the salad ingredients so it has time to mingle (at least 30 min). Refrigerate until ready to serve. Taste after it has time to rest and adjust the seasoning (but remember that you want the flavor to be strong because it will be diluted by the salad).

On a large platter (or on separate plates) build your salads with lettuce, cabbage, summer squash, beans, cotija, onions, and tortilla chips. Serve with dressing.

Pasta with Sausage, Zucchini, Kale, and Garlic Scapes

I think I can safely say this is my favorite pasta. A fun pasta shape, sausage countered with bitter greens, slight heat from the red pepper flakes, and loads of garlic is just my idea of heaven. I make versions of this fairly regularly, with the pasta and sausage staying consistent, but switching up the green veg, maybe adding sauteed onions, and always garlic. This is essentially just an adapted version of the classic Italian dish orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe. If you don’t eat meat, I would add another tablespoon of olive oil to start and add in a couple 15-oz cans of creamy cannellini beans when you’re done cooking the veg.

My full share this week was lettuce, garlic scapes, carrots, zucchini, cabbage, radishes, parsley, and cilantro. I will admit I didn’t use up my basil from last week, but since it came with the roots I just stuck the bunch in a jar of water on the counter and it was still looking great at the time I made this pasta. Here is a great guide to washing and storing fresh produce to make your share last as long as possible. I do the same thing and plan my meals based on what needs to be used up first – always lettuce early in the week and sturdy veg bringing up the rear.

On Monday I made a Spanish tortilla and served it with a simple side salad of lettuce and radishes using the same dressing as last week. Another night I adapted a kofta recipe (Turkish meatballs) by adding shredded zucchini, and served them with bulgar, grilled carrots, garlic yogurt sauce, and cilantro. The kofta were almost a grilling disaster as they were too delicate to be flipped, but I managed to salvage them and dinner was still delicious. If you’ve never grilled carrots, these early ones are perfect for the grill – just scrub them well, halve them, give them a toss in olive oil and cook until charred, finishing with something creamy like yogurt or feta, and herbs. Tomorrow I’m planning on grilling some chicken thighs and zucchini for tacos, topped with radishes, onion, shredded cabbage, and cilantro. I made a chocolate zucchini bread this week, and I’m already eyeing this cake for my next giant zuke.

What are you cooking?

Pasta with Sausage, Zucchini, Kale, and Garlic Scapes

Serves 6-8

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more if needed
  • 1 lb Italian sausages (either sweet or spicy)
  • 1 large zucchini (mine was 25 oz)
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 bunch garlic scapes (mine had 6)
  • 3 cloves garlic (or the white bottom section of fresh garlic)
  • 1 small bunch basil (about ½ cup chopped)
  • A large handful parsley leaves (about ½ cup chopped)
  • 1 lb short pasta (I used girelle)
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like!)
  • Fresh grated parm for serving

Chop the sausage into bite sized pieces if using links. Heat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium heat (keep in mind the entire pasta dish will be finished in this pot so err on the large side). Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to heat up, then add the sausage. Cook until it is cooked through and browned.

While the sausage is browning, chop the zucchini into 1/2″ cubes. Remove the stems from the kale and roughly chop. Mince the garlic and chop the garlic scapes into 1/2 inch pieces (just do your best – they are hard to tame).

Using a slotted spoon remove the sausage from the pan and add 1 tablespoon more olive oil. Add in the zucchini, plus a big pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is soft and browned (about 10 minutes).

Put on a large pot half filled with water and a large pinch of salt to boil (not filling the pot with water means the water that is leftover is much more concentrated with pasta starch – essential for good sauce building). Cook the pasta until al dente. I find the cooking times on pasta vary wildly, so I set a timer for 5 minutes to start, taste it then, and then add time as needed.

Add in the garlic scapes, garlic and red pepper flakes to the zucchini pot and stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes (the garlic should become fragrant), then add the kale in and toss to wilt. Add the sausage back to the pot.

When the pasta is done, use a slotted spoon to put it directly into the pot with the other ingredients. Add a half a ladle-full of pasta water to the pot, and stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Roughly chop the herbs. Finish the pasta with the herbs, and serve with grated parm, and more red pepper flakes.

Zucchini salad with herb yogurt dressing

IMG_6902 (3)If you have been slow to accept zucchini as noodles – I hear you. I was too, and I am still very wary of vegetable noodles completely replacing traditional pasta in dishes. But (but!) vegetables noodles have their own place in the world. Especially raw, they have great crunch and can hold dressing well, making a mean summer salad that will have you wishing for more zucchini instead of lamenting another one.

The Sprouted Kitchen salad that inspired this recipe was the first time I accepted zucchini noodles into my kitchen, and here they are to stay. Sara’s recipe calls for an anchovy or capers, and once I decided to use up the two anchovies I had left in a jar (because would 1 more make that much of a difference?). Well, that is now the infamous fishy salad that I will likely never live down. So, capers it is for us.

My full share this week was a head each of cauliflower and broccoli, carrots, two bunches of basil, a zucchini, fresh onions, and pea shoots. I simply stir fried the cauliflower and broccoli to serve alongside this fiery kung pao tofu. The pea shoots, some carrots, and a cuke leftover from last week went into cold Sichuan sesame noodles. If you have leftover broccoli stem this salad is a summer favorite. This is not a CSA related recipe, but since we are heading into a HOT weekend I want to point you towards by favorite popsicles that are just three ingredients (coconut milk, lime, and honey!).

Zucchini salad with herb yogurt dressing

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Serves 4-6 as a side

  • 2 lbs summer squash (I used one large zucchini)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup thinly sliced onion greens or scallions (this was .7 ounces for me, about ½ the greens from one fresh onion)
  • 1 cup chopped basil (this was 1 ounce for me and came from one small bunch of basil)
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers

If using a mandolin, you may want to cut the squash in half and scoop out any of the middle that is especially seedy and spongy. Julienne peelers and noodle makers cut from the outside in, so this isn’t necessary with them.

Using a mandolin with a julienne attachment, a julienne slicer, or a vegetable noodle maker, turn your squash into long, thin, noodle-like strips. Put the strips in a colander, toss with the 1 teaspoon salt, and toss to coat (note that a lot of water will drain off the squash, so you will need to put a bowl or plate under it to catch the liquid). Let sit for 20 minutes.

While the squash is draining, make the dressing. Turn on a food processor with the S-blade and drop in the garlic clove. When the clove stops bouncing around turn off the food processor and scrape down the sides with a spatula. Add in the yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, onion tops, basil, and capers. Process until smooth and taste for seasoning. Alternatively, finely mince the garlic and herbs, chop the capers, and whisk to combine with the yogurt, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar.

Squeeze any extra liquid out of the squash, and when ready to serve toss with the herb yogurt dressing. Once dressed the salad will last a day or 2 in the fridge, but it is best immediately.

Roasted Summer Vegetables

20180802_122021Admittedly I had another plan for a recipe to share this week, but it ended up being only ok, and I am not in the business of peddling mediocre recipes. This is what I made on Monday night when I came home with my CSA (I get mine early for recipe writing). I had no plan for dinner, but knew it needed to involve a lot of vegetables. I took stock of leftovers from the weekend, which included some naan, tzatziki, hummus, and olives. I still had a zucchini and summer squash from last week’s CSA, plus this week’s eggplant, tomatoes, onions and savory. I chopped everything up, tossed it with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and threw it in the oven. The result is the cruel truth that so many summer vegetables are really better roasted, when you would rather change a tire on the side of the highway in the pouring rain than turn on the oven.

But summer vegetables like this are so, so good. The tomato adds a bit of acidity, and provide enough moisture to make a bit of a sauce. Eggplant, when properly and thoroughly cooked, becomes meaty and velvety. The onion becomes a bit caramelized, and summer squash adds a freshness you only get at this point in the year. If you don’t have savory, you could try another hearty herb like rosemary or thyme, or finish the dish after cooking with a soft herb like basil or parsley.

The rest of my share this week was cucumbers, perpetual spinach, kale, basil, new potatoes, lettuce, and pea tendrils. I used the perpetual spinach, kale, and cucumbers in some easy noodles with peanut sauce from the freezer (I cooked the greens, but left the cucumber raw). The potatoes and onions are going into a Thai yellow curry from Simple Thai Food tomorrow night. I also get an egg share, and for tighter mornings, I hard-boil eggs and eat them with everything.

Roasted Summer Vegetables

Serves 6

I’m outlining my basic method, but you could easily mix up the vegetables you include here. For six servings, I fill two baking sheets with 1/2-1″ between pieces for thorough browning. The photo shows naan with a layer of hummus topped with the roasted vegetables.

  • 3 small eggplant
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 medium onions (I used fresh onions)
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped savory
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F. Chop all of the vegetables into 1″ pieces. Toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped savory. Spread across 2 baking sheets, with about 1″ of space between the pieces. They should be able to roast and brown, not just steam. Roast for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven, toss the vegetables, and return them to the oven on opposite shelves. Roast for another 10-15 minutes. In my oven the pan that starts on the bottom is always done first, while the other pan usually requires an extra 5 minutes to achieve the same level of browning.

Serve with hummus and pita or naan, in a sandwich, on pizza/pasta/polenta, or all by its glorious self.

 

 

Summer Quinoa and Zucchini Salad with Herbs and Lemon

zuke saladIt’s the greatest time of the year – local produce is here! Well, it’s always around to some extent but farmer’s markets are reopening and the bounty is flowing through the doors. This year I’m writing recipes for Potter Hill Farm’s CSA, so in addition to the great produce members receive each week they will get some ideas of what to cook with them. I’ve been buying excellent produce from Paul for years, and I’m so excited to be both a member of his CSA and an added value for his other customers. If you were not able to sign up for the CSA, you can still get Paul’s produce through the Grafton Farmers Market and order directly from him for Monday pickups at the farm in Grafton, MA.

This is the first of many weeks of recipes, and I think an introduction is in order for all those who are new here. Hi! My name is Tori. I’ve been writing this blog for about five years, focusing mainly on my love of vegetables and accessible home cooking, but also dabbling in books, beer, and travel. I contribute to Yankee Brew News as a columnist for our region and feature writer. By day, I’m an education coordinator at a non-profit farm where I run nutrition and agriculture programming, including cooking classes for kids (more on that here).

I live in and love Worcester. Since returning to my home state of Massachusetts five years ago after a stint in Seattle, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the nooks and crannies of New England. My husband, Will, is my primary adventure partner and recipe taster (He’s the main instigator behind the Will It Buffalo? series). Eggplant is my favorite vegetable, and I’m determined to convince the masses to love it too.

If you want to search my blog, or see all the posts in a single category, open up any post and scroll to the bottom. Click the tags at the bottom of the post to see other posts with a similar ingredient, click on a category to see all my posts on a single subject like books or travel, or use the search bar to find a specific post. I’ll be tagging all CSA recipes under Potter Hill.  You can find me on Instagram here. I’d love to hear more about you, what you’d like to see more of with your CSA recipes, and any questions you may have in the comments. Let’s get cooking!

zuke salad 2Summer Quinoa and Zucchini Salad with Herbs and Lemon

There is a lot of flexibility in this kind of recipe. Not into quinoa? Try couscous, farro, or barley. Can’t bear to turn on the oven? Slice the zucchini into planks, toss with the oil/zest/salt/pepper, throw it on the grill, and chop it after cooking. Out of chickpeas? Try cannellini beans or green lentils. Still trying to use up a head of lettuce? Put the whole mess (mixed or not) on top of greens dressed with lemon and olive oil. Vegan? Leave out the feta.

Serve 6 as a main, or 12 as a side.

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as olive oil (not extra virgin) or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs zucchini (I used 3)
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced (2 tablespoons total)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1 3/4 cups total)
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley leaves (half a small bunch)
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions (2 giant scallions)

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the quinoa and a pinch of salt. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Removed from the heat, fluff with a fork, and let cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Chop the zucchini into 1/2 inch pieces, then toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and ground pepper. Spread zucchini pieces on 2 baking sheets (if they are too close together they will steam and not roast), and roast for 15 minutes. Toss the zucchini on both pans, and return them to the oven on the opposite racks. Roast for another 15 minutes, until they are slightly charred.

In a jar or the bottom of the bowl the salad will be in, mix/whisk the lemon juice and olive oil. Combine the quinoa, zucchini, chickpeas, feta, parsley, scallions, and dressing in a large bowl., toss with the dressing and serve.

Zucchini Carbonara

Zucchini Carbonara - Vegetal MattersJamie at Home has been on my cookbook shelf for close to five years now. It moved to Seattle and back, and has survived multiple collection cullings. I can’t say I like the cover much, but it does have a nice feel to it both in texture and heft. As it should be with any book, the real joy is inside. The photography is incredible, with so many garden and produce beauty shots in addition to the recipe photos. The book is arranged by season, and within each season section are chapters on specific fruit, veg, or meats available during that time (so the spring section is asparagus, eggs, lamb, and rhubarb). At the end of each chapter there are tips for growing the produce or acquiring the meat sustainably. I like that there are whole chapters focusing on humble ingredients like lettuce or onions. So many of the recipes I’ve made from this have become yearly staples, like the sweet cherry tomato and sausage bake and steak, Guinness, and cheese pie, both recipes that create almost unbelievable flavor out of very simple ingredients.

Zucchini Carbonara - Vegetal Matters

The zucchini chapter has three recipes in it, and I’m sure the others are very nice but I have’t gotten around to making them since I just repeat the zucchini carbonara. Yes, bacon, egg, and cheese with pasta is a bit indulgent, but there is also a lot of squash piled in there as well. Oliver’s directions are usually a bit vague (a handful of this, pinch of that), but every time I make it I think this recipe needs a little more guidance. Maybe my personal zucchini scale is off, but if I used the 6 medium he calls for I would have ended up using almost 5 pounds worth. And while 12 slices of pancetta would probably be appropriate, 12 slices of regular American (streaky) bacon was going to be about a full pound for me, which was just too indulgent. What follows is still a lush recipe (it is cabonara after all, and if it’s not rich you’re not doing it right), with just the right balance of herbs and veg in a creamy sauce. I hope there are still zucchini and summer squash around you, they are on their way out in MA but I’ve still seen some around this past week.

Zucchini and Summer Squash Carbonara

Adapted from Jamie Oliver

  • 2 pounds mixed summer squash like zucchini, yellow summer squash, and pattypan
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • ½ pound of bacon
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Fill a large pot with water and set to boil. Whisk the cream with the 2 eggs and shredded parmesan, season with salt and pepper, and set aside. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs.

Slice the bacon into ¼ pieces and put in a very large pan over medium heat. While the bacon starts to render chop the squash into quarters lengthwise and then into ¼ slices. When the bacon is almost to your crispness liking, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon (it will keep cooking a bit more). Drain all but a tablespoon of fat from the pan, reserving the rest in a bowl separate from the bacon. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and add enough sliced zucchini to cover the bottom of the pan, but don’t crowd them. Season with salt and pepper and allow the squash to cook for about 7 minutes total, allowing them to start browning. When that batch is done remove the squash from the pan into a bowl, return the pan to the heat, add another tablespoon of bacon fat, squash to fill the pan, salt, and pepper, and cook until they start to brown. Repeat until all the squash is cooked.

When the pasta water boils, salt it liberally and then add the pasta. I start checking for doneness around 7 minutes by tasting for al dente. Reserve a ladle-full of the pasta cooking water and then drain.

When the last batch of squash is finished, turn off the heat and add the rest of the cooked squash back to the pan along with the bacon and thyme leaves.  Add the pasta to the pan as well and stir everything to combine. Add about a ¼ cup of the cooking liquid and your egg-cream-cheese mixture to the pan. Toss everything to coat in the sauce. It is really important to do this off the heat once the squash has cooked for a minute, so you don’t end up with scrambled egg sauce (though it’s really not the end of the world if you do, just not the prettiest sauce). If you like the sauce a little looser, add more of the reserved pasta water. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you like.

 

Last Week I Cooked…

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersRoasted eggplant and summer squash salad with tangy miso dressing. I think I would eat a rock if it was coated with miso dressing. I would not have thought to put such a dressing on these vegetables, and I liked this for steering me otherwise, but this Smitten Kitchen miso dressing is still my favorite (I think it was the scallions in this one that made for a rough texture I didn’t like as much). I didn’t have any quinoa, so I made this with barley but I think most any grain would work.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Deborah Madison’s ribboned cucumber salad with chile & roasted peanuts. I think next time I would salt the cucumbers to draw some moisture out so the dressing wouldn’t be as watered down (maybe my cucumbers were especially watery), but I love cucumbers thinly sliced with a zingy dressing.

Roasted corn and zucchini enchiladas. A summer favorite, that is less work than you think.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Fuchsia Dunlop’s fish fragrant eggplant from Every Grain of Rice. I love eggplant too much to provide an objective view of this recipe. If you love eggplant too, it is your duty to make this before the end of eggplant season. It does contain some obscure ingredients, but once you have them they become indispensable.

Along with the fish fragrant eggplant we had some tatsoi simply sautéed with ginger and garlic, brown rice, and a cucumber salad dressed with a 1:1 mix of garlic chili sauce and soy sauce.

Crispy peach cobbler. Dessert?! You betcha. I threw about a cup of raspberries in with the peaches (because I stopped at the farm stand to buy corn and they had PYO fall raspberries and I couldn’t resist) and DAMN this was good. I halved the recipe to make a single 9″ x 9″ pan and it was perfect for 4. I also used the reduced sugar Deb suggested, so 150g total. It also was a good reminder that I should always make crisps/cobblers instead of pies, because they take a tiny fraction of the effort and I like the output so much better.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersMediterranean potato salad. Mustardy shallot dressing, potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, olives, and hard-boiled eggs. Comes together quickly, travels well, and an excellent summer version of potato salad. My only change would be to add more hard-boiled eggs next time, or perhaps chop them smaller so they are more evenly distributed.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersSweet cherry tomato and sausage bake. This is how cherry tomatoes were destined to be cooked. It is their highest calling. I’m always amazed by the ease of preparation with this recipe and the incredible output. The tomato/sausage ratio as written is off to me, I used almost the amount of cherry tomatoes called for, and only 4 sausages for 2 people (but I also REALLY LIKE these tomatoes). Serve with the best loaf of crusty bread you can find. If you’re not into sausages leave them out, the tomatoes are the star. If you are into sausages, I’ve use this baking method regularly because it makes for uniformly cooked sausages with no monitoring. Cherry tomato days are numbered, act quickly.

Gazpacho. While the cherry tomatoes and sausages baked I blended up a batch of gazpacho. It comes together in minutes if you have a food processor, but does benefit from a resting period for the flavors to develop.

Last week I cooked... - Vegetal Matters

Breakfasts this week were various combinations of kale, eggs, tomatoes, and toast. Sometimes scrambled with goat cheese.

Roasted Corn, Zucchini, and Black Bean Enchiladas

Corn, Zucchini, and Black Bean Enchiladas - Vegetal Matters

The first time I saw this enchiladas recipe was one of those food revelations where you understand something only previously found processed on a shelf could be easily made (and I haven’t bought enchilada sauce since). It was also a revelation to make them without meat, because with dishes like this I’m really in it for the saucy tortillas and beans, so meat always seemed like an afterthought. They also adapt nicely with seasonal vegetables. I’ve used sweet potatoes, winter squash, and even kale. To feed more this could be served with rice and a salad (but they are plenty a meal on their own). It would add an extra step, but if slight onion crunch bothers you then saute the onions before adding to the mix (or just use the scallions).

Corn, Zucchini, and Black Bean Enchiladas - Vegetal Matters

Enchilada Sauce

Adapted from The Faux Martha

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 jalapeño, stem removed (omit for mild sauce)
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme (or ¼ teaspoon dried)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro (fine to leave the stems on)
  • 4 cups of tomato sauce (from 5 large tomatoes deseeded and pureed, a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes pureed, or just straight sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • ¼ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Start running a food processor and then drop in the garlic. Keep it going until you don’t hear any more garlic bouncing around, then drop in the jalapeño and run until the bouncing stops again. Add the onion, chili powder, cumin, oregano, thyme, and cilantro to the food processor bowl. Pulse a few times so all items are mixed and chopped. Add in the tomato sauce, sour cream, salt, and pepper, and process for a minute so all ingredients are fully integrated.

Without a food processor, finely mince the garlic, jalapeño, onion, and herbs, and whisk with the rest of the items.

Move the contents into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let the sauce reduce, uncovered for at least 10 minutes ( I usually let it bubble away while I get everything else ready).

Roasted Corn, Zucchini, and Black Bean Enchiladas

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen. Serves 4.

  • 2 ears of corn
  • 5 cups of chopped summer squash and zucchini (mine was from 2 small summer squash and a zucchini totaling 24 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion or scallion
  • 2 cups black beans (or 1 15 oz can)
  • 10 10″ flour tortillas
  • 1 recipe for enchilada sauce (above), or about 5 cups
  • 6 ounces (about 1.5 cups) shredded monteray or pepperjack cheese

For serving

  • Chopped cilantro, scallions, jalapeño, sour cream

Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the summer squashes with oil, salt, and pepper and spread on a baking sheet. Place the ears of corn (still in their husk) on another baking sheet. Put both in the oven for 20 minutes. The squashes should be a bit charred on the edges when done. Let cool for a few minutes. Turn the oven down to 375F.

In the meantime put the onion and black beans (rinsed first if they were canned) in a large bowl. When you can handle the corn remove the husk and silk (which all comes right off with this method!!) and cut the kernels off the cob. I find this is easiest to do with the fewest lost kernels if you lay the cob flat on a cutting board and cut down each side lengthwise. Add the corn and squashes to the bowl with the beans and onion and toss to combine.

To assemble spoon enough enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ pan to coat it. Put another ladle-full of sauce on a plate or pie plate that is bigger than your tortillas and spread to cover. Place a tortilla on the plate in the sauce to coat one side and then flip. If you’re using the sauce above it will be thicker than canned stuff, so I put another spoonful on the top of the tortilla and spread it around. Add a ½ cup of the filling to the middle and roll it up. Place in the 9″ x 13″ dish and repeat with the rest of the tortillas (mine didn’t quite fit so the last 2 went into a loaf pan). Spoon the remainder of the sauce over the enchiladas and evenly coat with a layer of cheese.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes so that the cheese is nice and melty and the enchiladas are heated through. Serve with chopped cilantro, scallions, jalapeño, and sour cream.

Green Scrambled Eggs with Mustard Toast

Green Eggs with Mustard Toast - Vegetal MattersThis breakfast was born out of another Sunday morning toast session at BirchTree. It is the kind of place you want to linger, so I brought a cookbook to flip through. In Bowl + Spoon, Sara has a recipe for barely creamed greens with eggs and mustard breadcrumbs, as well as a popeye protein bowl that involved scrambled egg whites, zucchini, spinach, black beans, and avocado.

Both of these recipes were combined and then adapted to fit my whims and kitchen contents. We left BirchTree with a loaf of bread for toast, and in one of my farmer’s market raids the week before I bought zucchini, kale, and eggs. This takes less than 10 minutes of effort to pull together, but is as healthful, hearty, and seasonal as a breakfast can get. And so good it bears repeating…4 days in a row. The mustard here is just meant to be a slight background brightness, not an overwhelming flavor (like a tiny smear in the best grilled cheese).

Green Scrambled Eggs with Mustard Toast

Small breakfast for 2 or hearty for 1

  • 1 cup of zucchini that has been quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup of chopped kale or other hearty green
  • 2 teaspoons of oil or butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of milk (or a splash if you are more like me in the morning)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar, or another cheese, or no cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (whole grain is extra fun)
  • 2 pieces bread

Put the bread in the toaster to your liking. Heat a small sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the sliced zucchini, and cook without disturbing for 3 minutes. Stir, and cook another 2 minutes. It should take on slight color, but not really brown.

While the zucchini is cooking crack both eggs in a bowl, add milk, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

Add the kale to the zucchini and stir. After a minute it should be just wilted and shiny. Lower the heat to medium low. Add the beaten eggs to the pan and stir. Stir every minute for 2-3 more, until the eggs are scrambled to your liking (I go until they are just cooked through but still very soft. Turn off the heat, add the cheese, and stir to combine.

Spread the mustard on the toast (you can do butter first if it’s a special morning), and serve with the egg scramble.

Last week I cooked…

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersTakeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber. I saw this posted on Tuesday, didn’t have a firm plan for dinner that night, and had all the ingredients for this in the pantry, plus cucumbers in the garden and it was the greatest. I’ve had trouble cooking rice noodles, but I watched these like a hawk and then drizzled them with sesame oil as instructed, and they didn’t turn out gummy or all stick together (hallelujah!). I always love a nutty, creamy, slightly sour sauce like this (which tastes strong on its own but mellows nicely with the noodles). After running around all day I knew I would need a more substantial meal, so I roasted some tofu a la Thug Kitchen (page 77 of the cookbook….that’s how often I use this method). Because of the tofu addition I served the noodles still warm and they were everything I hoped for.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Braised cabbage with fried potatoes, feta, and dill (from Vegetable Literacy). Very fancy feeling. The creamy fried potatoes were nicely balanced with wilted buttery cabbage, salty feta and herbal dill (which I don’t cook with enough).  This would have made an excellent course at an Irish mid-summer farm dinner. Unfortunately I made just this for dinner, and Madison’s serves 4 definitely meant as a side not a meal.

Corn bread salad. I have to admit this did not turn out, but it was entirely my fault as I let the cornbread go south (I thought toasting it up again would save it…I was wrong). Even if I had done everything according to recipe, it probably would not be my favorite dish. I already don’t like croutons in salad, and then getting them all soggy just makes everything that much worse. But I tried it, and I think most people without soggy crouton aversions would like this, so have at it.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Zucchini ricotta fritters. I’ve been on the hunt for the best zucchini fritters for a while now…and these still aren’t quite them. The ricotta made them super moist, but to the point of being hard to cook through. They stayed together really nicely, browned quickly, and then sat in the oven for a bit and still were super soft in the middle. Most zest and more salt next time, higher heat, and longer in the oven.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Potatoes with kale and a fried egg. This remains one of my absolute favorite breakfasts. This time I cooked the potatoes cubed in the cast iron, and added some diced onion halfway through cooking. The potatoes aren’t quite as decadent that way, but they do cook faster.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Toast with ricotta, honey, and peaches. My favorite breakfast, lunch, and coffee spot in Worcester is also a bakery, and most of their breakfast menu is just their incredible breads toasted with various spreads (like country bread with homemade raspberry jam, and olive and herb bread with whipped feta and olive oil). After eating there Sunday I wanted nothing but toast for breakfast all week, and did different renditions of ricotta with jam or honey and fruit.

 

Last week I cooked…

This week I cooked... - Vegetal MattersGreek chopped salad. This is the salad I wait all winter to eat. Garden tomatoes, cucumbers, and oregano, with a pepper, olives, feta, chickpeas, and a simple dressing. Recipe forthcoming.

Herbed summer squash pasta bake (pictured above). I was debating between this and pasta with fried zucchini salad which I made last summer. The baked pasta was good, but was a bit too heavy for me. I’m glad I tried it, but the fried zucchini one is the one I’ll come back to every summer (just beware frying the zucchini takes a while, but it is worth every minute).

Grilled cumin-lime zucchini quesadillas. I liked that these called for fresh mozzarella (because I happened to have some), but I think it is too wet a cheese for ideal quesadilla making. But still, I liked the fun flavor combination to make vegetable quesadillas a little more interesting.

Kohlrabi salad. Kohlrabi is one of those vegetables that is so hot right now, and I’ve seen it in many a farmer’s market and blog but somehow it hadn’t made it to my table. Once again embracing farm stand impulse purchases I bought some last week without a cooking plan and was guided by Ottolenghi. My main problem was with some of the kohlrabi, which seemed to have been grown too long because they were super fibrous. The bits that were good are what I assume all kohlrabi is supposed to be like, nice and crunchy with a mouthfeel similar to celeriac, but tasting just like cabbage.  I threw a little cucumber in too, and loved the creamy dressing and crunchy veg topped with slightly sour sumac (plus the color contrast was excellent).

Fish-fragrant eggplant and Sichuanese chopped celery with beef. I’ve been waiting to make this eggplant recipe since I read Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper and I think I’ll probably make it once a week for the rest of eggplant season. It was incredible and brought out the absolute best qualities of eggplant – luscious texture and awesome flavor absorption. I even substituted water for the chicken stock as I was making this on the fly, and it was still everything I hoped for. And my undying love for eggplant shouldn’t overshadow the celery dish, which was crunchy, spicy, slightly sour and rounded out with just a little fat from the beef.

Bánh mì breakfast sandwiches. I made these while I was preparing for a special dinner party (more on that later). Simple ingredients, minimal effort, but such high return. The salty-fatty-spicy-sour-herbal flavor combo is just unbeatable.