A perfect dinner for the first week of school -- quick, nourishing, not too heavy after a warm day, but just soupy enough for the first cooler nights. It comes together in less than half an hour and uses those zucchini you know you've got laying around. (You do want small-to-medium zukes, though, not the baseball bats.)
This is a delicious, simple use for fennel and a great dish for a potluck! Add pasta and leftover diced chicken to make it a meal, or serve as a side along with a burger or pork chop. Like leeks, fennel tends to get dirt in between its layers. We usually slice it in half, then peel off the first few leaves and rinse, then slice them thinly. You can also quarter it and run under water to clean, then slice. Larger bulbs will have a slightly woody core that you may want to remove and either slice separately or discard.
Makes about 4 cups
1 medium fennel bulb (reserve a few fronds for garnish)
2-3 tomatoes (a mixture of colors looks nice)
1 small handful basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Slice the fennel as thinly as you can. Chop the tomato into small, bite-sized pieces. Stack the leaves of basil and cut into strips. Toss together with a few good pinches of salt and a dash or two of lemon juice and olive oil. Let stand for 10 minutes or so to draw the juices out of the tomatoes, then toss again. Add cooked pasta, diced cooked meat, white beans or chickpeas, if desired. Garnish with fennel fronds, and enjoy!
Basic brine pickles
Brined pickles are easy to make, delicious, and good for you. The fermentation process increases vitamins and healthful enzymes, and they're probiotic, too!
Cucumbers with dill are the most traditional pickle in the US, but nearly any vegetable and herb mixture will work. (Ripe tomatoes are too soft, and I wouldn't try raw potatoes, but we've had good success with every other veggie we've tried so far.)
Rice with Beet Greens and Sausage
This is a dish we came up with after making a giant batch of beet chips, when we had three bunches' worth of beet greens in the fridge. That quantity of greens isn't necessary, but you'll be surprised at how much they cook down. Like most of our dishes, this one is flexible and forgiving - substitute Swiss chard or spinach for the beet greens, or heartier greens like kale or broccoli raab if you cook them a bit longer. You could also add in a zucchini or diced eggplant, use a different kind of meat, or leave the meat out altogether. This would also be good on penne or other pasta instead of rice.
This is a really delicious alternative to your typical lasagna, even if you have no reason to avoid pasta. By using a vegetable peeler, you get extremely thin slices of zucchini that don't require pre-cooking. Salting them beforehand and letting them sit for a little while draws off some moisture; opt for a thicker tomato sauce for this one to avoid too much runnyness.
Summer Vegetable Stew
This dish is perfect for the end of summer, when all the bounty of the season is still available, but evenings are beginning to cool and a big, hot bowl of dinner is something to be welcomed. Shell beans are really just immature dry beans, and can be cooked like dry beans that have been soaked. There is a bit of a spectrum between the "shell" and the "dry" stages for beans, and just how long they take to cook can vary a lot based on just where they are on that line. So we recommend cooking the beans separately from the rest of the vegetables in this dish in order to make sure the beans get cooked all the way through without endangering the rest to overcooking.
This is adapted from Shannon Hayes' great book Long Way on a Little, which is about making the most of local and organic meat - if you're a meat-eater, I can't recommend it enough. We roast a chicken every week or so, and this is a great recipe for leftovers, especially in the summer when you may not want to make soup. Of course, you could cook up some chicken (or turkey) especially for the purpose - it's good enough to warrant that. This tastes best if it has a chance to sit for half an hour or so to let the juices mingle.
Serves 4 as a main dish
1-2 heads of garlic (yes, heads - stay with me)
4 medium fresh tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup diced olives (we use a Greek mix, kalamatas or green olives would work well also)
3 cups diced leftover chicken
1 zucchini or summer squash, diced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, parsley, basil or a mix (or 2 tsp dried Italian herbs)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
salt to taste
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Peel the garlic and blanch in boiling water for about 5 minutes, until tender. This tames the bite and makes it sweet and nutty.
Combine everything except cheese in a salad bowl and mix together. Let sit in the fridge for half an hour, stirring once or twice. The tomatoes and zucchini should release enough juice to make a nice dressing; if it seems dry, add some olive oil. Enjoy!
Creamy Cilantro Salad Dressing
June is what we call "mandatory salad season" - we eat a salad with or for at least two out of three meals a day. Usually a pile of mixed salad green and pea shoots with a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar is plenty, but sometimes one craves a bit more. This dressing is a great use for big bunch of cilantro, especially before the tomatoes come in and you can't make salsa yet.
Chickpea Radish Salad
This is our new go-to for evenings when it's suddenly six o'clock (which happens to us pretty regularly once the season gets into swing). It's quick, light but filling, yummy, and packs a lot of vegetables.
This is a nice way to use radishes if you find them too strong on their own, because the dressing and the creaminess of the chickpeas tames their bite.
These are good by themselves as a snack, or with noodle soup, stir fry, or even scrambled eggs! You can use them like little tortillas to wrap around fried rice, or slice them into wedges. They go well with a quick dipping sauce made by mixing up some soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and grated ginger.
Other Good Places to Find Recipes
WTF is this vegetable?
Eating What We Grow (PDF)
Cookbooks We Like
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Chez Panisse Vegetables
Flatbreads and Flavors
The Art of Simple Food
Feeding the Whole Family
Storage Guidelines for Fruits & Vegetables (PDF)
The Zen of Food Preservation (PDF)
101 Jam Recipes