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.)
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.)
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!
This is adapted from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors, which is a cookbook built around farmers’ markets – it’s a bit biased for the west coast (we don’t see many lemons at our local markets), but it’s a nice resource for inventive and interesting vegetable recipes. The zukes and onion could both be grilled in this, if you were so inclined. Good served hot or cold.
Officially our favorite way to eat zucchini. It's also especially good with the little yellow scalloppini squash.
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