Zucchini and I have a complicated relationship. She and her sister, summer squash and her cousin, the adorable pattypan squash, lure me with their shiny skin and vibrant colours. I bring them home from the farmers market, bathe them in olive oil, honey, salt and chile flakes and grill them for a few minutes. Sadly, I am always disappointed by their bland flavour and watery texture. Then I saw a recipe in the June issue of Bon Appetit for Summer Squash and Basil Pasta and I was convinced to give zucchini another chance. Apparently, if you sauté the heck out of the zucchini, for over 15 minutes, it becomes jammy and saucy. That’s when the flavour transformation happens. All the water evaporates out of the zucchini and the flavour becomes concentrated and delicious.
This is my take on the Bon Appetit recipe. I have adapted it slightly.
Slice up lots of garlic and start frying it gently in some olive oil. The original recipe leaves the sliced garlic in the final dish. I don’t love crunching down on big bits of garlic so after the garlic is lightly golden brown and has imparted its gorgeous perfume to the oil, scoop out the sliced garlic and discard it. Zucchini needs salt. Lots of salt. Don’t be afraid. Once the zucchini has wilted down, add some raw corn and keep cooking until the zucchini deepens in colour and gets all jammy. Don’t forget some spicy heat. I used red pepper flakes.I finished the dish with some grated Parmesan, fresh mint, basil and a big dollop of ricotta cheese. If you happen to have any homemade ricotta hanging out in the fridge, even better.
Getting dressed in September is tricky business. I’m longing to pull on my over-the-knee suede boots and let the sweater layering begin, but it’s still too warm to fully embrace fall. Transitioning from summer to fall requires a skilled hand in the kitchen as well as the closet.
This month, the markets are still full of fresh corn, but I’m craving something a little heartier than corn on the cob or corn salad. This soup perfectly bridges the gap between summer and fall. The recipe for this soup comes from epicurious.com. Food editor Anna Stockwell intended this to be a pureed chilled soup for the dog days of summer. I decided to transition her recipe to fall by serving it hot. I added a large diced jalapeño to give the soup a little moxie and only pureed half the soup so that it was still chunky.Grated ginger adds a welcome zing and turmeric makes the soup a very vibrant yellow. Save the corn cobs and add them to the simmering soup. They really bump up the corn flavour. Coconut milk makes a splendid replacement for chicken stock in this soup. Avocado, lime and toasted coconut flakes are beautiful and delicious garnishes. I can’t think of a lovelier way to ease into fall.
Socca is essentially a large chickpea flour flatbread. Similar in texture to a crepe, it has crisp edges and the sweet and nutty flavor of chickpeas, with a trace of smokiness from a trip under the broiler. They originated in Nice where they are cooked in wood ovens on copper disks. I thought they would be an excellent base for pizza.
I am not very skilled at drawing or painting, so I like to think of these socca crusts as my canvas and the toppings as my paint. It’s easy to create masterpieces when late summer markets are overflowing with gorgeous produce.
Mix up the socca batter; chickpea flour (I used Bob’s Redmill Garbanzo and Fava Bean Flour), water, olive oil and salt. Let the batter sit on the counter for at least 2 hours, or you can even refrigerate it overnight.Pour about 3/4 cup batter into a lightly oiled hot nonstick pan, and cook until golden brown on both sides.Channel your inner Picasso and top with whatever fills you with joy. For this version I shaved the zucchini and dressed the ribbons with fresh thyme, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I sautéed some fresh corn kernels. Feta and olives for salt and some shredded mozzarella to create oozy cheesy goodness. Pop it under the broiler to melt the cheese and crisp up the edges.
I know what you’re thinking. “Really?? Who needs another gazpacho soup recipe?” But before you abandon this post and surf on over to see what’s new for fall at Joe Fresh, just hear me out. This is a little different than your typical cold tomato soup. Half the tomatoes get roasted, for a smoky depth of flavour, and the other half are left fresh, to enhance their tangy bright nature. Combining fresh and roasted tomatoes was the brainchild of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. They featured this soup in their July 2012 issue. I tarted it up a bit with some summer toppings.
Squeeze in a dollop of tomato paste to ramp up the umami factor. Sprinkle in a dusting of smoked paprika and cayenne and this soup is humming. Throw in some roasted garlic and shallots for fun. Yes, I’m going to ask you to turn on your oven in August, but it will be worth it. Once everything is roasted, puree the whole lot, along with some fresh tomatoes and strain it for a velvety smooth texture. Finish it off with corn, avocado and basil and you have summertime in a bowl. Have I got your attention yet?
When the farmers market stands begin to overflow with corn and tomatoes, I add them to everything I make. Lightly dressed arugula gets topped with sautéed corn and tomatoes and garnished with some buttery diced avocado. Peaches and Cream Corn and Blondkopfchen mini tomatoes weave their way into fritattas and onto tortilla chips gussied up as a salsa. Tiny tomatoes bursting with sweet acidity mingle with basil and plump sweet corn kernels. Tossed with some hot penne pasta and chunks of creamy buffalo mozzarella, it makes for a very happy summertime dinner.
I know that for many folks, biting into a freshly boiled, buttered and salted ear is a summer ritual eagerly anticipated all winter long. When all those sweet little kernels explode in your mouth, it’s bliss for them. But I am among the, mostly silent, minority who do not like to eat corn straight off the cob. It gets stuck in my teeth and I just want to run for the floss. Yes, very un-Canadian/American of me, I know. But I am ok with that. I am perfectly comfortable being mocked when I cut my corn off the cob.With my abundance of corn, tomatoes and scallions, I decided to make a tart. Chef Christine Cushing’s buttermilk pastry, studded with fresh thyme makes a perfect base.Rolling out the dough between 2 large sheets of parchment paper is a foolproof way of handling pastry.Line the pastry with some parchment paper and fill with pie weights to blind bake the tarts. I buy dried chick peas that I reuse for this purpose only. This will give your pastry a head start so that your finished tarts do not have soggy bottoms.Delicious hot or at room temperature (they were even great reheated the next day) these little tarts are a very special way to celebrate the bounty of summer. Once everyone has a bite of these, you will be forgiven for cutting the corn off the cob.