Fresh summer vegetables = good eating!

zucchini boysMy favorite part of long summer days & fun times spent with family and friends is feeding them all delicious summer vegetables that I’ve grown in my own garden. Every year we grow tomatoes (mostly heirloom, beefsteak & plum), peppers (from jalapenos to bell peppers), cucumbers for salads & smaller cucumbers for pickling, blueberries, zucchini (some of the fastest growing & largest I’ve ever seen this year) and other random veggies that we want to “try out”…this year we “tried” to grow carrots…not so successful!

After being at the beach for a week, we arrived home to an almost overgrown garden thanks to the pretty much daily rain we’ve been receiving in Georgia this summer. After seeing our crop, I immediately starting perusing the internet to find something yummy & delicious I could do with my wonderful veggies.

Day one consisted of making jars & jars of quick pickles. I absolutely love pickles, but the thought of having to go through the whole canning process gives me a headache. A couple years ago I found a delicious recipe for Quick Pickles in the Martha Stewart Everyday Food Magazine (which is no longer being published…sniff sniff). I saved this recipe & now it’s my go to recipe for pickling all the wonderful cucumbers growing in my garden.Next veggie up to bat, the tomato! I must have picked 30 plum tomatoes off the one plant we have growing. 

tomatoesWhat to do with these delicious guys? Why, make salsa, of course! I have an easy go to recipe for summer burritos. This easy recipe consists of boneless, skinless chicken breast that are marinated in fresh lime, kosher salt, pepper & a little cumin for about 30 minutes. Then all you do is grill them either on your outdoor grill or take the really simple approach & use a Swiss Diamond Non-Stick Grill Pan. You don’t have to use any oil and the chicken grills up perfectly without sticking to the pan & clean-up is even easier! This is honestly one of my favorite pans! You won’t go wrong with this grill pan or any of the Swiss Diamond Non-Stick pans for that matter. After you grill up the chicken, you can quickly grill some sliced fresh onion & red, yellow & green bell peppers. While all of that is being done, whip up some delicious fresh salsa, using this recipe

I think the key to chopping up your veggies for a perfect salsa is to have the perfect knife. I use the Global 5–1/4” Hollow Ground Santoku Chef’s Knife. It’s my go to knife for pretty much everything I create in the kitchen. I love Global knives, they feel great in your hand & keep a nice sharp edge.

After everything is prepped, all you do is get some fresh flour tortillas & pile on the delicious grilled chicken, peppers, onion, some grated Monterey jack cheese & top it off with the fresh salsa. Amazing!

After making a huge batch of salsa, I still had plenty of heirloom tomatoes & plum tomatoes & needed more ideas…so; I found a recipe for Roasted Tomato Marinara Sauce with Garlic and Oregano. I used my wonderful Mauviel M’cook Stainless Steel Roasting Pan. You don’t just need a roasting pan for your Thanksgiving turkey anymore…there are so many uses for this pan & it has been an amazing one to have in my kitchen.
tomatoes for marinaraI chopped up all the beautiful tomatoes, onions, garlic & oregano and put them in the pan. Next, I poured in the red wine, olive oil, kosher salt & freshly ground pepper then tossed it all well to coat. Then, I roasted everything at 425 for about an hour.

After my creation was filling my house up with the amazing smells of something that you may catch a whiff of while walking through the streets of Italy, I had to patiently let it cool before I could put it in my Vita-Mix blender to finish my sauce.If you don’t have a Vita-Mix blender, you need one! It’s an amazing accessory to have in your kitchen. You can make anything from smoothies, to margaritas, to soups, to salsas & sauces…anything! After all was said & done, the sauce was seasoned perfectly & was truly one of the best marinara sauces I’ve ever tasted, yet alone made. I don’t think I’ll ever buy jarred sauce again when the tomatoes are ripe & I have a few minutes in my day to make this. It can also be frozen easily so that you can use it throughout the year.

Lastly, what was I to do with the enormous zucchini that grown in the blink of an eye?

I personally don’t like the zucchini when they get too big. I think they lose their sweetness to eat on their own. I’ve thought about making a zucchini parmesan dish, similar to eggplant parmesan, but I haven’t tackled that recipe yet…maybe this weekend. However, the one go to I have found that works well when they get too big is Zucchini-Ricotta Fritters.

finished marinaraYou coarsely shred the zucchini which works out great. If you don’t have a good box grater in your kitchen, the one to get is the Microplane Four Sided Box Grater. With this grater, you can easily prep your zucchini for this recipe in no time at all. You can also use the fine side of this grater to zest your lemon for this dish as well. Once you have prepared the batter, all you have to do is heat up a sauté or fry pan…I personally love all my All-Clad cookware and I use the All-Clad 6qt Stainless Steel sauté pan. This All-Clad pan is another favorite in my kitchen. It can be used for everything and it is a larger size so you can handle feeding more than 4 people at once. Simply heat your oil in this pan, drop some batter in & fry them up until they are browned & crisp. Serve them with wedges of lemon…they are amazing! You could also serve them up with some of the amazing heirloom tomato marinara sauce that I mentioned above. That combination would be out of this world good!

Hope all of this inspires you to start your own garden or take advantage of local farmers markets this summer. Having farm fresh veggies is one way to enjoy the summer & have fun cooking at the same time! Also, having a well equipped kitchen is another key to enjoying being a home cook & making your family & guests smile when dinner is served!