With all the goodness spilling over from gardens and farm stands, I feel a menu in my heart…
Maestro, cue Porgy and Bess: Summertime, and the cookin’ is easy / Bacon’s fryin’ and the corn is high / ‘Maters burstin’ and zucchini’s good lookin’ / Set your pretty table / Company’s nigh.
Okay that was dorky. But the menu is grrrreat, trust me. Recipes below.
Peanuts and pickled okra are my go-to hors-d’oeuvres. (go-d’oeuvres?) I order Aunt Ruby’s peanuts from North Carolina because they are the best in the solar system. The okra is Talk o’ Texas from the grocery store.
My mother said heavy hors-d’oeuvres were a sign of insecurity.
The soup you make ahead, and yes you can freeze it. The pasta you prep ahead and assemble last minute, no big deal.
Make a simple lettuce salad with homemade vinaigrette. Take the cheese out early so it is room temp when served. I do one firm, like Gruyère or Cantal; one gooshy brie or triple-cream; and a goat or sheep’s cheese. Slice a baguette and that’s that.
Use store-bought ice cream bars or popsicles to lend a certain I-have-nothing-to-prove charm.
- 5 pounds cucumbers (about 5 cucumbers) peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped (10 cups)
- 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, coarsely chopped
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint
- 1 tablespoon chopped dill
- 2-3 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (or substitute*)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chives, minced
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except chives and puree by batches in blender. Chill at least 2 hours, then taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve sprinkled with chives.
- To substitute for buttermilk, add 1/2 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk. Unsweetened almond or soy milk work, too.
- 12 ounces uncooked pasta
- 6 pieces of bacon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups fresh corn (about 3 ears)
- 1 - 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
- 2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced
- 1/2 cup slivered black or green pitted olives (if desired)
- 1 cup Parmesan or Feta cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup chopped basil, loosely packed
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint
- 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
- Cook pasta by package directions for al dente.
- Meanwhile, in large skillet over medium high heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove to drain but keep drippings in pan. Add oil to drippings.
- Add onion and garlic to pan and saute 2 minutes.
- Add zucchini and cook about 3 minutes.
- Stir in corn, tomatoes, and olives (if using), and cook about 5 minutes, until tomatoes start to burst.
- Add pasta to vegetable mixture and stir to heat through, about a minute.
- Remove from heat and add half the cheese, herbs, and salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
- Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
- I also tried this adding olives and substituting crumbled feta for Parmesan. The saltiness of these two balanced the sweetness of the corn and tomatoes, and to my palate, made a good thing better.
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup wine vinegar (red or white)
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- Whisk together garlic, salt, mustard, and vinegar.
- Add oil in a steady stream, continuing to whisk until emulsified.
- Alternatively, whir all ingredients together in a blender, or shake them up in a jar.
- Once you see how easy and good this is, there is no reason to buy bottled dressing. Ever.