Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What to do with Summer's Bounty?

Summer Bounty
This time of year, we are all inundated with vegetables. It is a wondrous thing, especially after going through a long winter, and believe me, up in south Dakota, winter is plenty long. I am not complaining, but suddenly there is a glut of all the vegetables, and we all scramble for things to make. Whether it is too  many tomatoes, too many ears of corn, too many zucchini, or any other vegetable, I always look for some new way to use them.

I bought some ears of corn at the Farmers' Market here; a very small affair compared to some cities, but very nice and most welcome. Of course, I no more than bought the corn and then two people gave me a bunch more. 

Fresh RAW Corn Salad
Fresh RAW Corn Salad

Fresh RAW Corn Salad

Serves 4 - 6 as a side dish
Serves 2 - 3 as a main course on a RAW diet

3 ears fresh corn (about 3 cups corn kernels)
1 red bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper, or more as desired
1 - 2 Roma tomatoes
1 chopped shallot
½ cup cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon cumin seed, ground coarsely
1 teaspoon salt

Cut kernels from the corn cobs and place into a bowl. Chop the bell pepper, jalapeno pepper (remove seeds and membranes if less heat is desired), and tomato(es) and add to the corn. Add in the cilantro, lime juice, salt and cumin and toss to combine.

Personally, I love my Fresh RAW Corn Salad best, but I have come up with a couple of other recipes recently to try and use up some of the extra corn. One was Confetti Corn and Bacon; anything with bacon tastes good! Another was just a couple of days ago; Southwest Corn and Beans. 

Confetti Corn and Bacon

Confetti Corn and Bacon

Serves 6 to 8

6 ounces bacon, sliced across into ¼-inch strips
1 onion, chopped
6 ears fresh corn, cut off the cob
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 - 2 jalapenos, seeds and membranes removed, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons nonpareil capers
½ cup heavy whipping cream

Fry the bacon on a large skillet until just crisp. Remove the bacon to paper toweling to drain and set aside. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in the skillet. Add in the onion and saute gently for about 10 minutes or until just golden. Add in the corn and peppers and saute another 8 minutes, then add in the garlic to cook for another two or so minutes, until corn is tender. Add in the salt, sage, capers and whipping cream and heat through. Return the bacon to the pan, reserving 1 tablespoon for garnish.

Southwest Corn and Beans

Southwest Corn and Beans

Makes about 8 - 10 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 ears fresh corn, sliced from the cobs, about 6 - 7 cups
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stems, OR
1 teaspoon dried whole thyme, rubbed between palms
1 teaspoon cumin, or more, to taste
2 - 2½ teaspoons salt
few grinds of the pepper mill
½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 can kidney beans, well rinsed
½ cup chopped cilantro, or to taste

Heat a very large skillet and add in the olive oil. Put the onion, bell pepper and celery into the pan and saute on medium heat for about 8 minutes, until softened. Add in the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the corn, along with the thyme, cumin, salt, pepper and sun-dried tomatoes and continue to cook, tossing often for another 10 minutes. Add the lime juice with the beans and cilantro and toss until heated through, another 2 minutes. Serve with some cilantro leaves scattered over top for garnish.

My Sister-in-Law is growing herbs this year that are not always in her repertoire, such as rosemary, sage and chives. She usually has various flavors of mint, and does this year as well. Since I was moving into a new house this Spring, I missed out on getting anything planted, so I am doubly grateful for her bounty. I do miss my herbs. I walked to her place today and picked some sage, rosemary and mint. I wanted to use sage in my Yellow Squash and Apple Casserole that I was dreaming up. I got back and made the casserole with some of the yellow squash a friend brought over. I was mainly trying to think of a way to make these yellow squash or zucchini more exciting to eat. I find them rather bland. Great for making zucchini breads, but less so when trying to get them down otherwise.

Everyone may not agree with me on this, and that is wonderful. This would be one sad world if everyone liked only the same things. But, for any of you out there who find a lot of zucchini and/or yellow squash on hand, with little desire to eat them, you have just GOT to try this casserole.  I have been thinking on this recipe for days. I knew I wanted to put Granny Smith apples in it, but aside from that, I hadn't pinpointed the rest of what would  make this casserole stand out. Today I did that.

Yellow Squash and Apple Casserole

Yellow Squash and Apple Casserole

Makes one 9 x 13-inch casserole

4 slices thick-slice bacon
1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, thin sliced and rough-chopped
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups yellow squash and/or zucchini, cut in thin slices
4 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced thinly
1 cup bread crumbs
2½ cups shredded cheddar, 1 cup set aside
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage (less than 2 teaspoons if dried)
1½ teaspoons salt
pepper, to taste
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup water

Slice the bacon across the length into ¼-inch pieces. Fry the bacon till crisp, drain and reserve 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan. Add in the butter and the onions and toss to coat. Saute the onions till golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and allow the mixture to cook for another 2 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 on convect). While the bacon and the onions are cooking, slice the squash or zucchini and place into a large bowl. Add in the apples, bread crumbs, 1½ cups of the cheddar, sage, salt and pepper. Add the bacon and onion/garlic mixture to the bowl when they are done, tossing well to coat. Add in the eggs, whisked with the half-cup of water and mix well. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, or spray with cooking spray. Pour the squash mixture into the prepared pan, patting in evenly. Sprinkle with the reserved cheddar. Cover with foil and bake the casserole for about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake about 25 minutes more, or until the vegetables are tender and the top is golden.

Of course, you may say that anything with bacon, egg and cheese in it is going to be good. And you'd be right. I added in some other flavors too, such as fresh sage, bread crumbs, caramelized onion and garlic. I was testing as I went along to see if there was enough flavor. It seemed good. I found it needed to be covered for part of the baking time in order to get the vegetables and apple done through. But even while baking it smelled just heavenly. I couldn't wait to taste it. It was certainly worth the wait. My husband has absolutely no interest in zucchini or yellow squash, but I knew he would like it this way. I shoved a spoon in his mouth as soon as he got home this afternoon, and he admitted that it really was good. That is my real test of a recipe!

Okay, I grant you that this is not going to fly if you are on any kind of diet at all. It is not egg-free, dairy-free, gluten free. It won't work for vegetarians and less still for vegans. But it is so tasty. Oh yes.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.