Category Archives: From the Garden

Squash-a-palooza: Perfectly Simple Grilled Squash

This might be the last time you get to break out the grill in 2012, so take full advantage!  If summer squash and zucchini have been mysteriously showing up on your doorstep as gardening neighbors do their best to unload the last of their harvests, don’t fret.  This is a classic throw-together dish that can’t even really be called a recipe because it’s so simple.  Simply perfect to go along with anything.  If you have one of those snazzy non-stick grill toppers for veggies, then it’s even easier.

1.  Cut squash into spears

2.  In a large dish, toss together squash, a generous drizzle of olive oil, onion slices, some garlic if you feel like it, salt, pepper and chopped rosemary.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice.  Grill over medium-high heat until nicely caramelized on all sides; flip or rotate as appropriate.

3.  Serve with grilled meat or fish.  Or cut it up and toss it into pasta.  Leftovers are great for an egg scramble the next day–sprinkle with parmesan cheese for extra umami punch.

4.  Eat outside…it’s probably our last chance to do it this year.

Sigh…good-bye summer!  It’s been a joy.  And thank you for not short-changing the Pacific Northwest this year, our garden is especially appreciative.

Squash-a-palooza: Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

Oh my squash.  This chowder is truly, simply, really delicious.  And fast and easy to make!  You can also prepare it vegan or vegetarian by subbing the milk and omitting the bacon, see instructions below.  It’s the perfect summer segue into fall and uses the best of the passing season’s bounty.  Get your soup bowls ready!

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Squash-a-palooza: Spiced Summer Squash Bread

Move over, zucchini bread.  This summer squash bread is delightfully and perfectly spiced, moist, and travels well. It’s the perfect quick breakfast to jump-start your day.  This recipe makes a large-ish amount, twice as much as your normal loaf pan. Use a 9×13 dish, or 2 loaf pans.  It freezes well, so eat one and store the other for that last-minute bake sale, for a good friend, or whenever.

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Squash-a-palooza: Summer Squash Relish

It’s 80 degrees and sunny in Seattle today.  I’m in Maui right now but cheering on the last warm days before heading into what will surely be a bittersweet, gorgeous Fall.  If you are still harvesting summer squash, there are lots of options to use your glut…don’t toss it!  Today I’ll be posting several recipes, but this one stands out as a way to use up quite a bit.  Also–if you shred your squash (food processor to the rescue here), you can stash it in your freezer for months.

This relish is unexpectedly delicious; slightly sweet and just acidic enough to brighten any meat.  It’s also easy to make.  Grill up the last of those hot dogs and hit ’em hard with this relish…I think you’ll thank me.

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Jerry Traunfeld’s Nasturtium Capers

Adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld (Scribner 2000)

Nasturtiums are true multi-use flowers.  They’re easy to grow and beautiful, and they attract pollinators to your garden to boot.  Both nasturtium flowers and young leaves are edible as long as you grow them organically, which isn’t hard to do.  They provide a peppery punch similar to watercress in salads, and the flowers add a gorgeous splash of color.  Nasturtiums even contain decent amounts of vitamin C.

A regular caper is the flower bud of the Capparis spinosa plant and its seedpod is called a caper berry, which is also delicious (especially in a bloody mary) when brined.  The seedpods of nasturtiums look just like the caper plant’s buds, and they taste similar to capers once pickled.  In my opinion they’re better.  Nasturtiums form seedpods in late summer; you’ll find them attached to the stems underneath the foliage, where they develop in clusters of three.  You want young pods that are still green since mature seedpods turn yellowish and hard.

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Fava Bean Risotto with Super Easy Shrimp Scampi

This risotto stands on its own as a full, hearty vegetarian meal.  It also packs a great protein and fiber punch, so no need to feel too bad about the starch indulgence.  Bonus: your dominant arm gets a little workout in the process!  Fava beans require a little bit of work before you can enjoy them, but they freeze well and can be enjoyed for months.  I felt like having the risotto as a side dish, so I threw together the world’s easiest shrimp scampi and asparagus for the perfect al fresco summer meal.  The scampi recipe is at the bottom of this post.
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Prettiest Pickled Chioggia Beets

How pretty are these?  I didn’t grow up eating beets, but I’ve come to love them–in salads, roasted with other root vegetables, as chips, and especially pickled.  Dan grew a bunch of chioggia (aka “candy cane”) beets in the p-patch and since I rarely turn the oven on during summer, those babies were just begging to be pickled.  I’m certain that this recipe will work well with any kind of beet; I think golden beets would look pretty gorgeous in jars too.
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Romantic Blueberry Lavender Jam

The blueberries went crazy this year!  This is not a bad thing since I’ve been wanting to make this Blueberry Lavender jam recipe I found on Serious Eats.  Blueberry bushes do really well in the Pacific NW.  They love our climate and look beautiful in both summer and winter–the branches turn red as the weather cools, giving our area along our neighbor’s fence some interest and diversion amongst the evergreen and grey of the rest of the yard.

I adapted this recipe slightly: Instead of making the lavender tea, I just threw in the dried lavender buds we harvested last year.  In addition to saving time, I think it worked out beautifully.  To keep it vegan (not necessary but why not?) I used coconut oil in place of butter to help calm the foam situation down during full boil.

I can’t wait to try this on some lemon scones!

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Zingy Fava Bean and Almond Salad

Summer is in full swing and I couldn’t love Seattle any more than I do right now.  Our summers cancel out the several months of grey clouds and drizzle that we’re famous for, and our ocean-lake-river-mountain views are absolutely stunning on a clear day.  While the rest of the country is experiencing record heat waves, I am basking in 70 to 80 degrees.  Most people don’t have central cooling in Seattle because we usually don’t need it; fans provide some air circulation until temps dip back into the 60’s when the sun goes down, usually after 9:00pm.  Hard as it is to believe, once it reaches 80ºF outside, you actually do break a sweat inside.  Since no one wants to cook inside when it’s this warm, this Fava Bean Salad is perfect for right now.

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Garlic Scape Pesto for Everything

Garlic scapes are the soft,  lime-green-colored stems and unopened flower buds of hard-neck garlic varieties.  Scapes have a mild garlic flavor and slight sweetness.  You can find them in late spring or early summer at farmers’ markets, or you can grow your own garlic.  Dan harvested a bunch of from the p-patch, where he’s growing beautiful “music” garlic, which is a cook’s dream.  The cloves are huge, peel and slice easily, and the bulbs store for months.  Scapes are perfect for taking a whirl in the food processor to create a versatile pesto that can be frozen for up to 6 months.  Toss it in pasta, top grilled fish or steak with it, add it to your favorite homemade salad dressing, add a dollop to soup…the possibilities are truly endless and pesto is one of the easiest things to make.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups pesto:

10-20 large garlic scapes cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1/3 cup unsalted pistachios (if salted, use less salt at the end)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1/3 cup high quality extra-virgin olive oil, more or less

Throw everything except the olive oil into a food processor or blender.  Pulse until ingredients are broken up and fairly well blended.  Turn processor or blender on, then slowly pour oil into the lid opening in a thin stream.  Add more oil until the pesto is at the consistency you like; it should be enough oil to create the vortex effect while blending.

Pour into small freezer-safe containers if you want to freeze it, or use right away.  It will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

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