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In Season: 3 Fresh Ways to Serve That Summer Produce

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tomatoSome of us might be thinking about what to plant for our fall gardens, but the summer heat still burns on.  In August, what could be better than a cool and simple salad as the main dish or a side dish for dinner? Without further ado, here are two dishes that will cozy up quite nicely next to a grilled pork chop or chicken breast. The third recipe offers an unusual way to season and serve strawberries for dessert.

Simplest Zucchini Salad

1 clove garlic
2 small zucchini, sliced into rounds about 1/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Pepper, optional

Mash the garlic clove and rub it around the inside surface of a medium-sized steel bowl. Discard. Put the cut zucchini rounds into the bowl, add the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, if using. Toss the zucchini around in the oil and lemon juice until all slices are coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for an hour or two, refrigerated. Take out about 30 minutes before serving, put into a serving dish. Should be served at cool room temperature.

Makes 2-3 servings.

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

Slow-Roasted Summer Tomatoes

3 tablespoons plus 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
4 1/2 to 5 pounds medium-large ripe tomatoes (about 12 tomatoes) stemmed, but not cored
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
Sugar, to taste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3-4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12- by 17-inch baking sheet with foil. If you have parchment, put a sheet over the foil.  Spray or coat with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil.

Cut tomatoes in half through the equator. Arrange halves, cut side up, on the baking sheet, turning to coat the bottoms with some of the oil.  Sprinkle on each a pinch of salt and sugar, and drizzle each with a little of the balsamic vinegar.  Arrange garlic slices over the top of each half and top with a generous sprinkling of thyme.  Pour the remaining 1 cup olive oil over and around the tomato halves.

Roast tomatoes in the center of the oven until they are concentrated, dark reddish brown, with deep browning around the edges and in places on the pan, and quite collapsed. This will take about 3 hours for larger, fleshy tomatoes or longer for tomatoes that are less ripe or have a high water content. Check the tomatoes from time to time. If they appear to be cooking too quickly, turn the temperature down to 325.

Let cool for at least 10 to 15 minutes, then serve warm or at room temperature. Reserve the tomato oil (keep refrigerated for up to a week) to use on its own or in a vinaigrette. To store tomatoes, refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to a couple of months. They’ll continue to release juice during storage.

Makes 24 tomato halves.

From “Fine Cooking Annual, Volume 3”

Balsamic-Marinated Strawberries with Basil

2 pounds fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced 1/2-to 1/4-inch thick (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
8-10 medium-sized fresh basil leaves

In large bowl, gently toss strawberries with sugar and vinegar. Let sit at room temperature until the strawberries have released their juices but are not mushy, about 30 minutes.  Just before serving, stack the basil leaves on a cutting board and roll them vertically into a loose cigar shape. Using a sharp chef’s knife, very thinly slice across the roll to make a fine chiffonade of basil.

Portion the strawberries and their juices among four small bowls and scatter the basil to garnish.

Other serving suggestions:  Serve strawberries over grilled or toasted pound cake, topped with whipped cream. Layer berries with ice cream or yogurt for a parfait. Scoop strawberries over a roasted peach half. Use berries as a filling for crepes. Mash berries slightly and fold into whipped cream for a quick dessert, garnish with basil.

Makes 4 dessert servings.

From “Fine Cooking Annual, Volume 3”

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