Friday, August 19, 2016

Time For Those Bumper Crops

It's getting close to late August and we all know what that means - bumper crop! We'll be inundated with extra tomatoes, zucchinis  and peppers thanks s to our gardens or ones that belong to neighbors friends and family.  What to do with them? There are dozens of recipes that can be used.

New York Times Food writer Julia Moskin had an excellent idea for vegetables gratins in her column in Wednesday's New York Times Food section. Fresh grown veggies are their tastiest  in this layered dish. It's similar to the winter dish potatoes au gratin in the sense it's layers cooked in a skillet. The summer one has a base layer of onions and peppers.A second layer has zucchini and squash along with Parmesan cheese and pieces of fresh  French or Italian bread.(stale just won't  do). Also cook the veggies either by grilling or broiling before hand  otherwise you'll ind up with a watery half cooked pan of veggies. Another great idea is getting a spiralizer if you don't have one already . You can turn all those zucchini into healthy "green" pasta, whether making it with a pomodoro sauce or a healthier version of pad Thai. The zucchini noodles are just good sauteed with only garlic, olive oil and some butter or margarine. Stuffed zucchini is another great meal and treat. These can be filled with chopped meat, a mix of bread crumbs and tomatoes or a spiced rice mixture. Another idea that's sure to be a classic is zucchini crust pizza. This is when shredded zucchini is mixed with egg or egg whites to create a kind of crispy omelet and a base for tomato sauce and cheese.

Tomatoes are also abounding right now. What to do when the farmer in your life drops off  more than a few? Think sauces for the fall and winter. You can make it for anything , from pizza to pasta. Cooking the sauce is probably the most labor intensive which usually takes anywhere from half an hour to ninety minutes.Keep in mind that the shorter the cooking time the thinner the sauce but with a fresher tomato flavor.The longer the cooking time, the thicker the sauce and the flavor is more of a cooked taste. Tomatoes can be served in an easy crudo sauce for now. It just cutting up tomatoes, letting them marinate in olive oil and garlic as the pasta is being cooked. Orange zest, capers and hot pepper flakes can be added too for extra flavor. Extra tomatoes and peppers can also be turned in a fresh salsa, perfect for pool parties and barbecues. Toss in some chopped jalapenos for fire  or if you want a milder one, add some pineapple chunks or a dollop of honey. Those extra peppers can also be stuffed too with beef, chicken or even turkey.Mix the meat with wild rice  and herbs for extra flavor. Peppers can be charred and served with an anchovy or bagna calda sauce for a Piedmontese summer favorite.

Don't freak out at getting a bumper crop of fresh veggies. There's a million good recipes out there that can be made with them. Enjoy the bounty and the good food that comes from them.

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