Recipes to tackle those bushels of fresh produce

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The weather is hot and the farmers market is a buzz of excitement as garden fresh produce becomes available. I'm not sure what kind of crop we will end up with as the dry weather trend continues. But for now, while we do have a good crop, take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables that are available.

Rob Weeks shared a book with me, "Too Many Tomatoes, Squash, Beans and Other Good Things." It is a cookbook filled with recipes to use when you have an abundance of fresh produce. I found many of the recipes to be quite interesting. I am sharing a few recipes today from the book and Rob. Enjoy!

Tomato Planks

Peel the tomatoes by putting in boiling water for the count of 12. Late season tomatoes are well known for tough peels and may take a few seconds longer. Cut large, 1/2- to 3/4-inch slices from the middle of tomatoes, planks, and put on a platter, about 2 per person

Sauce:

4 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon milk

Mix and pour over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and fresh pepper.

Topping:

1/3 cup celery, sliced thinly

1/3 cup green onion tops

Spread over top of the sauce

More ideas for topping:

You can use leftover chicken or ham and shredded cheese as a topper, as well as leftover steamed broccoli, peas and cauliflower. A can of tuna and chopped boiled eggs works nicely, too. Feeling a little gourmet, try some smoked salmon and capers.

You can also use artificial crab and blue cheese, in other words, clean out the refrigerator and save yourself from cooking a big meal.

Serve with some crusty bread or fancy crackers and you're done.

Tomato Sandwiches

1 loaf bread

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

Mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt

Juice of one lemon

6 small tomatoes, thinly sliced

Dried parsley

Mix cream cheese with enough mayonnaise to make cream cheese of spreading consistency. Add seasoning salt and lemon juice. Cut bread into 2-inch rounds using a cookie cutter. Cut a corresponding number of crescent shapes using the same cookie cutter. Spread cream cheese mixture on bread circles. Add a tomato slice. Sprinkle more seasoning salt and dry parsley. Top with crescent shapes. Refrigerate before serving.

Zucchini Cheddar Bread

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch (8-cup) loaf pan.

Whisk together in a large bowl:

3 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Add and toss to separate and coat with flour:

1 cup coarsely shredded zucchini

3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup chopped scallions

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill, or 2 teaspoons dried

Whisk together in another bowl:

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) warm melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil

Add to the flour mixture and mix with a few light strokes just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix; the batter should not be smooth. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.

Squash Casserole

2 pounds yellow summer squash

1 carrot, grated

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon pimento

1/2 pint sour cream

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 package herb stuffing

1 stick margarine

Cook squash, drain, add salt and pepper, carrot, onions, pimento, sour cream and soup. Melt margarine, pour over stuffing and mix well. Add 1/2 stuffing mix to squash and cover with remaining stuffing. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

Zucchini Casserole

2 medium zucchini

2 medium tomatoes

2 medium onions

1 cup cheese, your choice

Grease or spray a medium size shallow baking dish and set aside. Slice the zucchini, the tomatoes and onions, into thin slices. Alternate the layers of zucchini, tomato, and onions till you use them all, then add salt and pepper and sprinkle top with cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Rhubarb Crumble Pie

Try topping your next rhubarb pie with a buttery spiced oat crumb mixture. Serve with a scoop of ice cream for a perfect summer dessert.

1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb stalks

1/3 cup water

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

Few drops red food coloring, optional

Tip: You can use 10 to 15 Red Hots instead of food coloring. It helps to perk up the flavor and color, too.

Topping:

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pie shell or thaw a frozen pie shell. Trim and rinse the rhubarb stalks. Slice large stalks in half lengthwise. Slice rhubarb stalks crosswise in 1/2 to 1-inch lengths. Combine sliced rhubarb and water in a medium saucepan. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons flour and 3/4 cup sugar, stirring until well blended; add to the rhubarb mixture. Stir in the Red Hots, if using. Stir well and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover but leave the cover ajar to let steam escape and continue simmering for about 5 minutes, or just until tender. If desired, add a little red food coloring to make the filling more colorful. Spoon filling into the prepared pie shell. With a pastry blender or fingers, combine the topping ingredients until blended and crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the pie. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until topping is browned and the filling is bubbly.

Have a great week, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at news@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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