Summer Harvest: Basil, Zucchini, Cucumber Recipes
Summer is officially coming to a close: The Minnesota State Fair opened last week, I purchased textbooks for my last Fall semester courses (unless I go back for a PhD…just kidding), and the basil, cucumber and zucchini are bountiful. It’s been a fast summer – I feel like I kicked it off with a hospital stay (admitted May 3rd) and then spent all summer tending to (read: annoyingly fretting over) my new diet, trying to figure out what I can get away with eating and how to make what I’m supposed to eat taste good. I still haven’t touched red meat, nearly eliminated pasta (it’s a treat now, which is so sad), and make all of my meals plant-based. But I will tell you this, eating a variety of veg this summer became easier once the basil came in, to make batches of pesto (recipe here) for the week and mix it in with just about anything – on a tomato and mozzarella sandwich, mixed with sauteed onions and chickpeas, or on a piece of toast with melted Parmesan.
Zucchini is a new veg in my kitchen – I’ve never cooked or baked with it before (though I have, certainly, eaten it before), and until this year have never planted it. BUT, there was a recipe for Zucchini Fritters in last month’s Bon Appetit that made me think twice about zucchini as a potential staple around here. I used this recipe and they turned out beautifully – crisp on the outside and hot and gooey in the inside. I do detest frying anything in my kitchen, so am going to use the same recipe but try my hand at baking these this week.
Do you remember in the movie Julie & Julia when Julie proclaims braised cucumbers are a revelation? Kudos to Nora Ephron for that line, because as I looked at the stack of cucumbers growing in the garden, I knew to pull out Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and try braised cucumbers. Her recipe, unfortunately, takes up to an hour of prep, which I did not have, so took a few suggestions from the web. I peeled the cucumber, cut in half the long way (to create two long half-cucumbers), spooned out the seeds and cut to create these inch-thick crescent moon shaped pieces. I put two tablespoons of butter in a saute pan and over med-high heat for twelve minutes or so, stirred until soaked with butter, hot, and beginning to brown. I’m pretty sure I ruined whatever nutritional content the cucumber had, but they did not taste like the cold cucumber in an un-inspired salad.
Good luck with the return-to-school season, getting through all the produce that this hot week is going to produce, and staying cool.