It’s the end of summer and my garden’s literally exploding with vegetables. This is a good and a bad thing. I can make lots of salads like this summer squash tomato bowl but my garden looks more like a jungle. All of my enthusiasm in the planting stage yielded 10 giant Early Girl tomato plants. They grew like crazy , then folded on top of one another blocking the sunshine on the squash which is why (I think) they’re both green and yellow. I planted three kinds of basil (just for fun!) and the giant one, thai basil, has so many bees I can’t get to it. But, back to the salad. My garden gave me everything and it’s a spectacular gift from Mother nature. I’ll never complain again.
Basil oil: Basil oil is essentially pesto without Parmesan cheese or pine nuts. It’s a great way to use up lots of basil and takes all of 30 seconds in the food processor. Best of all, it freezes beautifully. Make a big batch and freeze it in ice cube trays so you’ll have it all year long as a salad dressing or to baste fish or chicken.
Goes with: What doesn’t summer tomato squash bowl go with? If you’re keeping the menu light, try slow roasted barbecue chicken and strawberry blueberry pavlova. But, here’s another (genius) idea. Turn summer tomato squash bowl into a topping for crostini or add it to a turkey sandwich. You could even use it as a filling for an omelette or a crusty grilled cheese.
Check out this video to make baked mustard chicken – perfect with summer tomato squash bowl:
Cooking squash: Bring out the natural sugars in summer squash by slicing thinly and running under the broiler for just a minute. This will give them a nice char without compromising the fresh from the garden flavor.
Place olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and juice and basil in a food processor and whirl until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Preheat broiler. Cut squash into thin slices, preferably using a mandolin. Place on a baking sheet in one layer and in the oven 4-5 inches under the broiler. Broil 3-4 minutes until they begin to brown. Remove and cool.
Core and cut tomatoes into bite-size wedges and place in a serving bowl. Add zucchini followed by half of the basil oil. Gently toss. Drizzle more basil oil on top followed by basil leaves.
I had two thoughts the other day; wouldn’t barbecue sauce be better made from scratch and why is barbecue chicken always grilled? So, I set out to debunk the rules with a recipe for slow roasted barbecue chicken. To my surprise, it was one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made. Barbecue sauce from scratch doesn’t require much attention at all and the ingredients are mostly pantry staples. I like to marinate the chicken overnight in the homemade sauce in a disposable baking dish. The next day it goes from fridge to oven to trash (the dish, that is) with no mess or clean-up. But, the best part is falling off-the-bone juicy chicken with a crispy charred exterior and a new no-fuss weeknight dinner recipe.
I’m a Jersey girl and one thing I know for sure, when it’s hazy, hot and miserable outside, there’s fresh corn to be had. That’s right, it’s in heaping piles from farm stands to supermarkets along with giant trash cans so people can peel away the husks and inspect the kernels. It’s not unusual to saddle up to the corn heap, elbow out your neighbor, rip apart the corn and only buy the good ones. I on the other hand grab and go because this time of year there’s really no bad corn. When I can’t eat one more perfect ear, I make griddle miso corn cakes. They’re as easy as pancakes and the miso gives them a burst of flavor that’s a great addition to any meal.
Think of grilled tomato white bean salad as the summer version of a hearty bowl of bean and veggie soup. Beans and vegetables are two things I can’t live without, so I had an idea to turn them into a satisfying warm weather dish. My garden is a battleground for the tomatoes between the squirrel’s and me, so I grabbed the ripe ones, and gave them a good char on the grill. That and white beans, fresh basil, Parmesan shavings and a balsamic reduction and I’m in heaven until it’s time to make soup again.
You can skip the campfire to make these smores cookies and dare I say it? They’re BETTER than the real thing! It starts with basic chocolate chip cookie dough using whole-wheat flour for the graham effect. When they’re all baked and golden, pile on the marshmallows and give it a quick run under the broiler till they’re toasty and gooey. A final drizzle of melted chocolate will have you wishing summer could last all year long. But wait! You CAN make these all year long.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of judging the blueberry pie contest at my local farmers market in Summit, New Jersey. It’s not easy tasting 10 blueberry pies in 10 minutes (poor me!). They ranged from gluten free to tricked out with whipped cream and even one with canned blueberries (I noticed). But the winner kept it simple with a buttery crust loaded with blueberries bursting through the sugar dusted lattice, almost identical to my own version. If pie baking seems daunting to you, take note home cooks; the winner was just 12-years old. Congratulations Jozi! That’s an honest blueberry pie.
Grilled squash with basil drizzle is a recipe created from the tangle of yellow squash and basil overtaking my garden and it couldn’t be easier to make. There’s a certain fascination with a vegetable garden for someone who loves to cook as much as me. Planting begins as soon as the temp. clears 32 degrees, around late April in NJ. It’s year two for my little garden and once again, my enthusiasm has yielded so many thriving plants, it’s hard to tell one from the other. So, several days ago I was shocked to find a 4-pound yellow squash growing under a canopy of basil. The dish came quickly in my mind (how fun to pick and cook in a matter of minutes!) and I can’t wait to see what my ‘secret garden’ brings me tomorrow.
Gazpacho with spicy shrimp is one of those recipes you’ll be glad to pull out when it’s too hot to cook. There are thousands of recipes for this Spanish raw vegetable soup, but the bottom line is it’s a chopped salad in a bowl. As a home cook, you can pick and choose your vegetables from whatever’s in the fridge or your garden. If the ingredients are fresh, you can’t go wrong. Adding spicy poached shrimp keeps it light and healthy with a little punch of protein to make it a substantial meal.
Sometimes the best recipes are the ones that are made the most. This one for best lemon bars has been a “keeper” in the SHC kitchen for over 20 years. While the success of most baked goods is exacting measurements, this is one of those recipes in a constant tweaking mode. Finding the perfect sweet/sour combo makes them irresistible and earning the title ‘best lemon bar’.
What could be better on Mother’s Day than showing your mom some love from the kitchen with mozzarella, tomato, basil tart? Mozzarella, tomato and basil are pretty spectacular on their own, but bake them in a tart and they’re transformed into a rich, layered dish of gooey mozzarella, tender tomatoes and a puffy basil custard finish. You’ll instantly be elevated to favorite child status no matter your age.