Part two of recipes using fresh produce

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Again this week we have recipes to pass along to you using the season's freshest abundance. Squash, tomato, eggplant and other vegetable plants are producing as best they can in this hot, dry weather. I have found some nice things at the farmers markets and enjoy taking advantage of those fresh ingredients while they last.

Here are a few recipes to get your thoughts flowing.

Caprese Salad Stacks

Pronounced "cah-PREHY-zay," this Italian staple is easily accomplished by any level of cook as there is little skill involved in making it and the ever-popular, consistently mispronounced Caprese Salad is best when served with the very freshest ingredients. As always, just try to get the freshest, most in-season ingredients and don't be afraid to splurge a little on olive oil.

3 large tomatoes, about 8 ounces each

2 balls (8 ounces each) fresh mozzarella cheese

1 package (2/3 ounces) fresh basil or garden fresh

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Trim off thin slice from top and bottom of tomatoes then cut each into 4 thick slices. Cut each mozzarella ball into 4 slices. From basil, remove 8 large leaves and pick off top portion of 4 sprigs for garnish. Coarsely chop remaining basil leaves. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in oil until vinaigrette is emulsified. Sprinkle tomato slices with chopped basil and remaining salt and pepper. On each of 4 salad plates, starting with tomato, alternately stack tomato and cheese slices with one basil leaf over each mozzarella slice. Drizzle vinaigrette over all, garnish with basil. Makes 4 servings.

Baked Eggplant Lebanese Style

4 pounds round eggplant, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1 (5 1/2-ounce) can tomato paste

2 cups water

3 cloves garlic, crushed

3 to 4 cups vegetable oil, for frying eggplant

For the stuffing:

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 1/2 pounds ground beef or lamb

2 teaspoons butter or margarine

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oil in deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Brown eggplant on both sides and drain on paper towels. Place butter or margarine in skillet and saut pine nuts over medium heat until lightly golden. Remove from butter and set aside. Add onions and meat to skillet, add salt and pepper and saut for 10 minutes. Add pine nuts and stir. Remove from heat and set aside. Place layer of eggplant in 9-by-15-inch glass baking pan and spread stuffing evenly on top. Repeat with another layer of eggplant. Dissolve tomato paste in 2 cups water and place in saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic. Pour over eggplant and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Seven-minute Zucchini

4 medium zucchini, grated

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound mushrooms

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1 clove minced garlic

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Combine zucchini and salt and let stand. Heat mushrooms in skillet over high heat until liquid evaporated. Add butter to skillet and saut with onions. Squeeze excess liquid out of zucchini and add to onions and mushrooms. Stir over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream, reheat and serve with fresh basil garnish. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Chilled Summer Soup

8 cups

1 quart low-fat plain yogurt

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 medium seedless cucumber, peeled and diced

2 medium plum tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions

2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, chicken broth, olive oil, rice wine vinegar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Using a wire whisk, mix well. Add remaining ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Squash Casserole

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

6 cups large diced yellow squash and zucchini

Vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon House seasoning, recipe follows

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

1 cup crushed round buttery crackers (recommended: Ritz)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saut the squash in a little vegetable oil over medium-low heat until it has completely broken down, about 15 to 20 minutes. Line a colander with a clean tea towel. Place the cooked squash in the lined colander. Squeeze excess moisture from the squash. Set aside. In a medium size skillet, saut the onion in butter for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and mix all ingredients together except cracker crumbs. Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish and top with cracker crumbs. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Yields 6 servings.

House Seasoning:

1 cup salt

1/4 cup black pepper

1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

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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