JOPLIN, Mo. —
This is the time of year I wait for. Our gardens are producing everything at the same time. I love being able to make meal after meal without having to visit the grocery store.
We're gearing up for a road trip, so the timing is perfect for eating out of the garden for the next few days, while using up whatever is left in the fridge. Luckily, my garden is currently producing enough squash, eggplant, beets and kale to feed us well for the week. Of course, I combine my garden bounty with random cheeses, pastas and grains. I don't live off the land entirely.
The stars of the show are tomatoes and basil. Since my cucumbers fell prey to relentless squash beetles, I did supplement by visiting the farmers market. Tomatoes and basil make my world go around. They're ready to pick at the same time, combining to make sweet perfection. Add the cool crunch of a cucumber and a dash of salt and pepper, and tomatoes and basil are what summer tastes like.
Planning dinner in the summer is such a pleasure. There's nothing tedious about combining veggies you've grown or bought from a farmer's hands to make a fresh, tasty meal. Have a salad with fresh greens, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, grill some squash, eggplant and beets, and top it all with a sprinkle of feta or Parmesan cheese. Easy summer perfection.
Get your hands on some fresh corn and jalapenos, too. The corn adds a filling, whole grain aspect to your meal, while the jalapenos give a seriously fresh kick to everything. Fresh salsa with garden tomatoes, cilantro, onions and jalapenos is one of the best flavor combinations ever. Add some lime juice, fresh corn, black beans and avocado and you hardly need the chips. Grab a spoon -- the salsa is a meal in itself.
The dinner possibilities that can spring up from your garden or the farmers market are infinite. Here are a few suggestions if you're in a rut.
Roasted jalapeno gazpacho
1 large jalapeno chile pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
6 cups seeded and chopped tomato, assorted heirloom or red (6 large)
2 cups seeded and chopped cucumber (about 2 medium)
1 medium peach, peeled, pitted and chopped
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
5 large fresh basil leaves
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil leaves
To roast jalapeno pepper: Cut chile pepper in half lengthwise; remove stem, seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, cut-side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until skins are blistered and dark. Carefully fold foil up to enclose the pepper halves. Let stand about 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Use a sharp knife to loosen the edges of the skins from the pepper halves; gently and slowly pull off the skin in strips. Discard skin. Finely chop pepper. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, combine 3 cups tomato, 1 cup cucumber and half the peach. Cover; process or blend until almost smooth but a few small pieces remain. Transfer tomato mixture to a large mixing bowl. In food processor or blender, combine the water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, the 5 large fresh basil leaves and the garlic. Cover; process or blend until smooth. Transfer basil mixture to the bowl with tomato mixture.
Add the remaining tomato, cucumber and peach to the processed mixture. Depending on the amount of hotness you like, add all or part of the roasted pepper. Stir to combine, and season to taste with salt. Cover; chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
Serve in small bowls or cups garnished with snipped basil.
Source: Urban Roots Farm in Springfield via midwestliving.com
12 ounces whole-wheat linguine or other pasta
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
41/2 cups water
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil. Serve with oil and Parmesan.
Adapted from marthastewart.com
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons cold water
3 large eggs
1 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 1 large ear) or frozen
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
To prepare crust: Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, add oil and water and gradually stir them in to form a soft dough. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, preferably deep-dish, and press into the bottom and up the sides. Trim any overhanging crust. Line the dough with a piece of foil or parchment paper large enough to lift out easily; fill evenly with pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil or paper and weights. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.
To prepare filling: Whisk eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Sprinkle half the cheese over the crust, then layer half the tomatoes evenly over the cheese. Sprinkle with corn, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Layer the remaining tomatoes on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour the egg mixture over the top.
Bake the pie until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
Have questions? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.