Category: summer squash


Bread and Butter Pickles Chez Edouard

Bread and Butter Pickles Chez Edouard

So what does this photo have to do with tonight’s menu? Nothing really. But yesterday I made these jars of bread and butter pickles and this morning I felt inclined to take a photo. Next fall and winter, I’ll be enjoying these as well as the dill pickles that I have been preserving along the course of the summer thus far. I’m anxious to make relish next weekend.

But on to tonight’s menu. On a hot summer day, a soup is probably the last thing most folks would think of cooking for dinner, but the abundance of fresh produce makes this a particularly wonderful time to combine the vegetables on hand with some fresh water, simmer until the flavors marry, and serve with a cornmeal muffin and a side salad. Simple, direct, and of the moment.

Summer vegetable soup of tomatoes, squash, onions, garlic, corn, new potatoes, and green beans garnished with finely diced banana peppers
Cornbread muffins
Garden salad with creamy dill dressing

A perfect peach

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Tonight I entertained friends with a dinner predominantly based on vegetables from the farmers’ market and herbs from my deck garden. Yesterday the market was brimming with a wide selection of fresh offerings which provided inspiration for the meal.

The parfaits I made for the family 4th celebration earlier in the week were such a hit, I decided to experiment further with the idea. Tonight’s rendition involved gelled pureed peaches along with the vanilla panna cotta. Again, another well-received dessert offering. Technically speaking, the plain gelatin I used was derived from animal sources, so that keeps the meal from being 100% vegetarian. The vegetarian alternative (agar agar flakes), is not available in my area but if you can find it you will achieve similar results.

Appetizer:
Roasted mushrooms stuffed with Mississippi caviar

Main Course:
Roasted red bell pepper halves stuffed with orzo, chopped tomato, artichoke hearts, and basil and garlic infused ricotta topped with fresh mozzarella
Roasted baby summer squash
Romano beans with extra virgin olive oil
Yeast dill rolls Chez Edouard

Dessert:
Peaches-and-cream parfait garnished with fresh blueberries and served with pecan sandies

I am an advocate of finding new ways to use leftovers and tonight’s dinner includes components of dishes that were made earlier in the week and transforms them into something new. Orange bell pepper halves are stuffed with a mixture of leftover brown rice, slivered green beans, and caramelized onions. Mushroom caps are stuffed with leftover black-eyed pea salad that has been mashed into a puree. Baby summer squash are hollowed out, blanched briefly in boiling water, drained, and stuffed with grated pepperjack cheese. The watery flesh is scooped out of tomato halves and replaced with a mixture of herbed breadcrumbs, garlic, and parmesan. Once all of the vegetables are stuffed, they roast together on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, and dinner is served.

A further note about the squash. I first devised this utterly simple treatment to serve as an hors d’oeuvre at a birthday party I catered many years ago, and they were such a hit I was offered several other future catering jobs before the evening was over.

Orange bell pepper half stuffed with brown rice and green beans
Mushrooms stuffed with pureed black-eyed pea salad
Baby summer squash stuffed with pepperjack cheese
Tomato halves stuffed with herbed breadcrumbs, garlic, and parmesan

Peach ice cream

Yesterday, the local farmers’ market was brimming with the first harvest of early summer vegetables. Among them: cucumbers, summer squash, tender green beans, new potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and sugar snap peas. Tonight I used several of those offerings for this week’s vegetable plate.

The green bean and potato dish is quite different from that of my southern upbringing (in which the beans were cooked until mushy and the potatoes were added during the last 20 minutes of cooking). Instead, I reverse the order by cooking the tiny new potatoes first until almost fork tender and then the tender young green beans are added for the last few minutes of cooking with a knob of butter to season the dish. The beans retain their crisp, succulent nature and provide a wonderful, crunchy foil to the soft texture of the potatoes.

Roly-Poly summer squash benefit from a quick dunk in buttermilk before being breaded in seasoned cornmeal and oven-fried while the bread bakes. The cucumbers were transformed into bread-and-butter pickles yesterday and although they will improve with more aging, they were more than acceptable tonight. The addition of freshly-made coleslaw completed the main course.

A deviled egg
Green beans and new potatoes with a butter glaze
Oven-fried Roly-Poly squash
Coleslaw and bread-and-butter pickles
Spoonbread

Baked peach crisp with a drizzle of heavy cream

There is certainly nothing extraordinary about tonight’s menu–the main dish has been done by numerous other cooks before. But the various components add up to a satisfying and simple meal. Think bean and cheese burrito, but instead of the fillings folded into a tortilla, they’re sandwiched and layered into a casserole-type dish that can be cut into wedges. The rice is given a bit of extra pizazz with the addition of onions, roasted red peppers, and pine nuts, and the summer squash is prepared simply…blanched until tender in a small amount of spring water to which a knob of butter, salt, and pepper are added.

Dessert involves a dish of the ice cream made earlier in the week, but updated with a topping to add a new twist.

Southwestern tortilla stack en casserole with housemade refried beans, green chilies, sour cream, and pepperjack cheese served with salsa
Rice pilaf with onions and roasted red peppers
Summer squash with a butter glaze

Pineapple-coconut ice cream with a fruit and nut trail mix topping

Tonight’s menu celebrates the transition from spring to summer. When I produce a vegetable plate I usually like to include a variety of tastes, textures, cooking methods, and (in warm weather) a combination of hot and cold offerings. And while that approach does involve a bit of extra time and effort, I try to streamline the prep by creating as many components as possible ahead of time. In this instance, the beets were made over the weekend and the lentil salad and muffins were produced earlier in the day, leaving only the potatoes and squash to deal with at the last moment.

Vegetable Plate for June 11, 2013
Chilled lentil salad served over baby spinach leaves
Marinated baby beets from Clay Family Produce next door
Boiled new potatoes from my father’s garden
Breaded and oven-fried summer squash from the farmers’ market
Cornbread muffins

Fresh strawberries and cookies

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