Posts Tagged ‘Summer’

While this soup features summer ingredients like corn and fresh tomatoes, the flavors are perfect all year.  Substitute canned tomatoes or frozen corn – it’s equally delicious.


3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil; more for the sauce
1-1/2 tbsp chopped garlic, plus 1/2 tsp. finely grated or minced garlic
2 lb ripe tomatoes, cored and large diced (about 4-1/2 cups)
1 cup dry white wine
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (Spanish pimentón)
1/4 cup mayonnaise or yogurt (I usually omit, as we enjoy a clearer broth)
Kosher salt
1-3/4 cups homemade or canned chicken stock 
1 large pinch saffron
1 lb halibut, cod, or other firm white fish, cut into 1-inch chunks (and/or shrimp/mussels/clams)
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 4 medium ears)
1-2 potatoes, diced (we added for some starch)
Parsley for garnish


  1. In a 5- to 6-qt. soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the 1-1/2 tbsp chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and wine and simmer vigorously until the tomatoes are broken down and the mixture is slightly soupy, about 15 min.
  2. While the tomatoes are cooking, whisk the 1/2 tsp grated garlic, paprika, and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Whisk in a little olive oil and enough cool water to make a creamy, pourable sauce. Taste and add salt if you like.  (Add potatoes here, if using.  Cook 10-15 minutes.)
  3. Add the broth and saffron to the tomato mixture and simmer to slightly reduce the broth and concentrate the flavors, 5 min. Add the fish and simmer until it’s opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minites more. Stir in the corn. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve in large bowls with a big drizzle of the sauce on top and a generous sprinkle of parsley, if using.

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These muffins are a delicious spectacular – and fairly nutritious – way to use up summer blueberries and zucchini.  They come together quickly and store in the freezer beautifully.

With a continued bounty of zucchini from our garden (please bear with me!), I’ve been scratching my head thinking of ways to use the prolific vegetable.  While part of me is excited by the bevy of vegetables, I have so much more zucchini than I can handle (and give away) that, honestly, it’s making me a bit antsy…. to use it up quickly!  FHE was the one who requested this recipe.  Too many zucchini.  Too many blueberries.  One perfect breakfast/snack combination.  Really.  This is one of the best muffin recipes I’ve come across.

The shredded zucchini imparts a moist and almost creamy texture, while the addition of whole wheat flour adds just the right amount of nuttiness. There’s a delicate thin crust on the top of the muffins and, fresh from the the oven (and even a few hours afterwards), they offer the perfect bite: slight crunch, followed by sweet, tart fluffiness.  The fresh blueberries burst in your mouth and make the bread fresh and wholesome.  A “perfect 10” of a muffin for all of us.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Zucchini Muffins, from Sweet Happy Life

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup milk (reduced fat is fine)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini (I like to squeeze a bit of the excess liquid)
1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease mufins tins.
In a medium bowl combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
In a large bowl combine the sugar, egg, olive oil, milk, and vanilla. Stir in the zucchini.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just combined.
Fold in the blueberries.
Spoon into muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack.

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The perfect way to celebrate summer’s bounty of tomatoes and zucchini.  Traditionally, domatokeftethes, from Santorini, are a tomato-based fritter that are delightful as an appetizer or side dish. We’ve added some zucchini to the mix but feel free to omit.  The combination of herbs can be adjusted to include dill, parsley, basil, mint, or oregano, depending on taste preference. 

Domatokeftethes, adapted from the Web

4 ripe medium tomatoes, finely chopped and deseeded
2 medium zucchini, grated
1 medium onion, grated
1 1/2 – 2 cups of self-rising flour (or add 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 1 cup of AP flour)
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh mint or fresh basil, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients except flour in a bowl. Add enough flour to make a thick batter.
  2. Heat 1/2 to 3/4 inch of oil in a nonstick frying pan. When the oil is hot, drop the batter by tablespoonfuls into the oil and fry until browned. Turn once to brown on both sides.  (I pan-fried the batter with less oil.)
  3. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper towels.

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Lemon, Zucchini & Chicken Pasta

Another recipe drummed up in response to the overflowing bounty of zucchini from our garden and our neighbors’ gardens.  While FHE has yet to adore the vegetable he considers slimy and bland, the fine shredding of the zucchini in this recipe (along with the extra step of squeezing out excess liquid) paired with shredded carrots and onions gives the vegetable medley a crunchy texture and carmelized flavor. 

Lemon, Zucchini & Chicken Pasta


12-16 oz shaped pasta, such as farfalle
2-3 zucchini, coarsely grated (liquid squeezed)
2 medium carrots, coarsely grated
1 medium onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 medium lemon, rind finely grated, juiced
1 cup fresh spinach
grated parmesan cheese, optional, to serve


  1. Cook pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water, following packet directions, until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a few tbsp of olive oil (or butter) in a large, deep-sided frying pan over medium heat.  Add onions and cook until translucent and carmelized, about 5-10 minutes.  Add zucchini, carrots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until zucchini is soft. Add chicken and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until heated through.
  3. Add pasta, additional oil or butter, green onions, lemon rind and 1/4 cup lemon juice  to chicken mixture.  Cook, stirring, over low heat until heated through.  Fold in spinach.  Sprinkle with parmesan, if using.  Season with salt and pepper.  Can be served hot or at room temperature.

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Pea Pesto Pasta Salad

We love a pasta salad – sans mayo, for me.  I have an aversion to most mayonnaise-based pasta and potato salads.  Heck, an aversion to most things mayonnaise.  I reserve an exception for mayonnaise chocolate cake, though.  (Thoroughly moist and delicious, there is no trace of mayonnaise in cake form – other than the fat that gentle coats your fork and tongue!)

In light of my pickiness, I’m always on the lookout for pasta salads that use vinegar-based, tomato-based, and other mayo-free dressings.  This dish features fresh summer peas in verdant, nutty pesto.  Easy to prepare, great for entertaining, and versatile enough to pack for a picnic (without spoiling in the hot sun), this is a flavorful change of pace and features one of Rice Kernel’s most treasured summer vegetables.

Pea Pesto Pasta Salad, from Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals at Foodtv.com


1 pound shaped pasta, like cavatappi, shells, farfalle, or penne
1 cup pea pesto, see below (or store-bought pesto, of course)
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested (add according to taste)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 cup chopped tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved (Rice Kernel asked me to omit)
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 pound bocconcini, drained, pieces halved (optional)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Cook pasta to al dente then cold shock it and chill it down under cold running water. Drain well.
  2. If using fresh peas, cook in pasta water for 2 minutes.
  3. Place pesto, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, tomatoes, scallions, peas and cheese in a large bowl.
  4. Add cooked pasta to mixing bowl.  Combine salad and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pea Pesto, from Epicurious

1 1/2 cups (from approximately 1 1/2 pounds peas in pods) fresh pea or a 10-ounce package frozen peas, defrosted
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted and cooled
1/2 cup (1 1/8 ounces) finely grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon table salt, plus more for pasta water
1/3 cup olive oil


  1. Bring a small saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add peas and cook for 2 minutes (this leaves them with a bit of structure).  Let peas cool to lukewarm before making the pesto.
  2. Set aside 1/2 cup of your cooked peas.  Whirl the remaining cup of peas in the work bowl of a food processor with garlic, pine nuts, 1/3 cup parmesan and salt until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary.  With the machine running, drizzle in olive oil.
  3. You can stop right here and freeze the pesto in ice cube trays.  Or, if using immediately, consider toasting some baguette slices and making some crostini or dress some pasta with the pesto.  

    One of Rice Kernel's favorite snacks peeking out.

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Crab and Sweet Corn Cakes, from Epicurious May 2011
These cakes also work well with shrimp, crayfish and even roast chicken.

8 ounces cooked crabmeat
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 red serrano chile, finely chopped
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup all-purpose flour or fine cornmeal
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup fresh or canned corn kernels, drained
2/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream, to serve
lime wedges, to serve

Lightly mix the crab, green onions, chile and cilantro in a bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Sift the flour and cornstarch into a separate bowl. Add 2/3 cup cold water and the eggs and whisk until smooth. Stir in the crab mixture and corn kernels. The mixture should have the consistency of heavy cream.

Add a drizzle of olive oil to a frying pan set over medium-high heat.  Spoon small amounts of the batter onto the griddle and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden.  Serve with crème fraîche and lime wedges.

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Rice Kernel loves the farmer’s market.  Ever since he could walk, he’s enjoyed picking out vegetables and fruit and, most of all, sampling.  And sampling some more.  Pistachios and peaches/nectarines are his favorite.  But he rarely discriminates.

On a recent Sunday, Rice Kernel and Grandma went to the farmer’s market.  She let him loose and asked him to pick vegetables for the week.  I was surprised to find that he came home with two medium eggplants.  I asked my mother-in-law if they were hers but she assured me Rice Kernel “purchased” the beautiful purple vegetables. 

This is where I have to say we are all drawn the beautiful things; but what you find on the outside does not necessarily correlate with what you find inside.  As much as Rice Kernel “thinks” he wants eggplant, I hear complaints of “mushy” and “slimy” on a regular basis.  I’ve had increased success recently (here and here) and decided our next eggplant dish would be one where the vegetable plays a more complementary role. 

I should note that this recipe takes a couple precautionary measures with the vegetable: First, it is salted for ten minutes before cooking to draw out moisture and tossed with a little flour before sautéeing in oil.  This seems to create a nice protective barrier and prevents the eggplant from soaking up too much oil, as it has a tendency to do.  Finally it drains on paper towels again while a simple sauce comes together.

Rice Kernel had a few chunks of eggplant, but not mouthfuls.  For eggplant averters out there, I think this is a great starting point for one of summer’s most beautiful vegetables.

Pasta Alla Norma, from Lidia Bastianich

4 cups basic tomato sauce, jarred or homemade
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt
4 tbsp flour
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 medium cloves garlic, smashed
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 pound short pasta, such as rigatoni, penne, or casarecce (pictured)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
6 tbsp ricotta cheese (optional)


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  In the meantime, sprinkle the eggplant with salt and allow to drain on paper towels for 10 minutes, then dust with flour. 
  2. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, then add one of the smashed garlic cloves.  Cook until golden, about 1 minutes, then remove and add half the eggplant.  Cook the eggplant, stirring occasionally, until golden but still tender on the inside, about 5 minutes.  Remove to drain on paper towels.  Repeat with the remaining garlic and eggplant.
  3. Heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium heat in the same skillet until shimmering, then add the onion.  Cook until lightly golden and soft, about 5-7 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat the tomato sauce in a large saucepan.  Add the cooked onion to the tomato sauce.
  4. Cook the pasta until a couple minutes away from al dente, then drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Add the pasta to the sauce, using pasta water as necessary to keep the sauce a nice consistency, and cook until the pasta is al dente.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the eggplant pieces and basil, stir to combine, and heat through. D ivide into bowls and top with the ricotta, if desired.

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