Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Kitchen Gardener Cook
Yes, the Crape Myrtle Festival is upon us and I’ll be there chatting and grilling with great ideas for that summer produce.
Lest We Forget
The Governor’s Local Challenge will happen the last week of July and in the world of ‘LOCAL’, it has become a very big deal. As media, I’ll be covering the Governor’s Cook Off event and I know I’ll have stellar photos and recipes to share from the top producers and chefs in Maryland. Visit the website to learn more about the Buy Local Challenge and of course, support your local food producers.
For a recipe to make it into my itinerary, I want it to fulfill at least 4 categories:
- It must be wholesome and fun but not too testy
- It must contain something fresh, fresh, fresh…even if that is a verdant herb
- It must be an adventure-usually a recipe helps me to explore–possibly another culture or new technique or unique way of working/playing with food
- It must be nutritionally dense!
Now that my standards have been set, let’s proceed on to the many (some quite unique) uses for that prolific summer squash.
Homemade Yogurt Cheese, Zucchini Ribbons and Tomato Salad
For the yogurt cheese:
32 ounce container quality natural plain yogurt (Stoneyfield Farms)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
about 1 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
To make yogurt cheese:
If you don’t own a yogurt strainer, line a strainer with a large unbleached (natural) coffee filter. Place the strainer in a bowl to catch of all the whey. Pour the entire 32 oz of yogurt in and cover loosely with natural paper towel. Place a plate on top to weight down and speed up process. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. (Save the whey to use as a healthy liquid in other recipes.)
Salt and pepper the cheese to taste and mix well. Using a melon baller or tablespoon, mold the yogurt cheese into small rounds and place in a flat layer in a glass storage container. Mix the garlic and olive oil and pour over the cheese. You are now ready to let flavors “meld” in the ‘fridge. Cover and let season overnight.
To assemble the salad:
Arrange the zucchini ribbons and the tomato on a platter. Place the balls of cheese on as desired. Sprinkle with fresh basil and oregano and drizzle with some of the garlic olive oil from the cheese.
Thai Summer Squash and Shrimp Soup
Soup like this is light for a summer meal and simply sings with the addition of coconut milk and fresh lime juice.
- 8 ounces large raw shrimp, shell on
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 very small bird chile pepper or substitute 1/4 teaspoon Habanera chile pepper
- 8 ounces fresh green beans, cleaned and stemmed
- 2 medium crookneck squash, slice into half moons
- 1 14 ounce can coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon Thai Fish Sauce (or soy sauce)
- Juice of 1 fresh medium lime
- 1/4 cup small whole leaves Thai Basil
In a soup pot place about 1/2-inch of stock. Bring to a boil, add shrimp to steam briefly, cover with a lid for about 3 minutes. Turn in the pan, cover again for 2 minutes. Remove shrimp from stock with a slotted spoon and place on a plate to cool. Peel, saving shells and devein.
To add flavor to the stock, add the remaining stock, the shrimp shells and chile pepper and cook for 30-45 minutes, boiling very gently.
Remove the shells from the stock and add the green beans and squash. Continue cooking until the beans are tender crisp and the squash has softened. Stir in the coconut milk, Fish Sauce and lime juice. Add the shrimp back into the soup and heat just until hot. Adjust seasonings.
Ladle into bowls and top with fresh Thai basil leaves.
Pasta with Zucchini and Zucchini Flowers
Serves 2 people as an appetizer
The baby zucchini available at farmers’ markets this time of year do work well in this recipe and can compare to the best tiny courgettes I experienced while working in Italy for the tv show, World Class Cuisine.
- 6 ounces fresh fettuccine or dried spaghetti cooked al dente
- 12 baby zucchini with flower, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot, chopped finely
- 1/2 clove garlic thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 tablespoon butter
- salt and pepper to taste
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
Warm enough olive oil to lightly cover the bottom of a large lidded sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add shallot and, with the lid on, sweat them off (cook until translucent but not brown), stirring occasionally.
Add the zucchini rounds and, with the lid off, cook until somewhat soft, about 6 minutes, flipping the rounds halfway through.
Add the butter and the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to the pan, stir it in and turn up the heat to medium to let it thicken into sauce.
When the salted water comes to a boil, and while the sauce is thickening, add the fettuccine to the pot and cook until it is al dente, according to the instructions on the package.
Once the fettuccine is cooking, add the zucchini flowers and a tablespoon or two of the pasta water to the sauce, and stir. Season to taste.
Drain the pasta cooked, incorporate it into the sauce, and serve immediately.
Kolokythokeftedes (Zucchini and Feta Balls)
(makes 12 zucchini balls)
Short and sweet, this recipe creates tasty little cheese infused spheres as nibbles, a first course or side dish.
- 2 cups zucchini (grated and squeezed very dry)
- 1/4 cup of feta, crumbled
- 1 splash ouzo
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 1 handful herbs (such as mint, dill and parsley, chopped)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- salt and pepper to taste
- whole wheat flour
- breadcrumbs (use whole wheat)
- oil for frying
Mix the zucchini, feta, ouzo, garlic, green onion, herbs, egg and season with salt and pepper.
Mix in equal parts flour and breadcrumbs until you can work with the mixture to form balls.
Form the mixture into balls and dust in flour. Fry in oil until golden brown and drain on paper towels until cool enough to handle.
These are great served warm or at room temperature.