Last February, I pined away for the taste of a fresh tomato, tender green beans, or a basketful of sweet lettuce leaves – all freshly picked from the garden. But, each year in late summer I am reminded of the old saying, “Be careful of what you wish for.” The branches on the peach trees droop in an attempt to carry their load and birds swarm the blackberry canes in frenzied efforts to get their fair share of the bounty. The springtime lettuce has bolted in the Midwestern heat, the green tomatoes have changed into their brilliant red attire, screaming, “It’s now or never,” while the zucchini…I won’t even go there. I gaze upon the beauty and abundance of the garden and realize that in a few short months all will be gone in the colder months to come. Yes, harvest is here and it’s time to enjoy the colors, smells and tastes of our labors.
BABA GANOUSH – Growing up, I absolutely hated eggplant. Now, however, I can’t get enough of the stuff: eggplant parmesan, eggplant pizza, eggplant and tomato pasta, marinated eggplant, fried eggplant, pickled eggplant and, especially, this wonderful Mediterranean dish that is served spread on bread or crackers, or eaten as a side dish all by itself.
1 large eggplant
¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cumin
Salt to taste
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Grill the eggplant for approximately 10-15 minutes until the skin starts to turn black and the flesh starts to soften. Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet in a 375-degree oven and bake another 15-20 minutes until very soft. After cooling, peel the eggplant and transfer the flesh to a mixing bowl. Mash the eggplant into a paste. Add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice and cumin and mix well. Add salt to taste and adjust other ingredients, as needed (you may want to add more tahini or lemon juice). Mound the mixture in a serving dish and, using the back of a large spoon, form a shallow well in the center. Spoon some of the olive oil in the well and drizzle the rest over the mixture. Sprinkle parsley over the top and arrange olives around the outside. Serves 6.
ZUCCHINI FRITTERS – This is an updated form of potato pancakes using zucchini instead of potatoes. Not only is it delicious and nutritious, but who isn’t looking for more recipes when the green things mount their invasion of the garden?
3 cups coarsely shredded zucchini, skins on and seeds removed
2 eggs, beaten
½ small onion, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1-2 Tablespoons milk, if needed
Mix all of the above ingredients together – I stir vigorously instead of using a mixer. Add a tablespoon of milk or two only if mixture is too dry. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a hot, well-greased griddle or skillet. Brown on both sides and serve immediately. Makes 10-12 fritters.
RASPBERRY VINEGAR – More cooks are moving away from prepared foods to more natural ingredients in the family meals. Although there are a few bottled salad dressings I occasionally serve, we more often opt for olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice on our salads. Flavored vinegars are easy to make and have a variety of uses. Fresh blackberries, blueberries, or coarsely chopped cranberries may be substituted for the raspberries in this recipe.
3 cups red or white wine vinegar
1 cup fresh red raspberries
½ cup granulated sugar (optional)
½ cup red raspberries for decoration (optional)
Combine vinegar and sugar (if desired) in a stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Heat, stirring occasionally, until hot but not quite boiling. Pour into a glass bowl and stir in the raspberries. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a cool place for about a week. Strain through cheesecloth, coarse muslin, or a coffee filter a couple of times to remove all debris.
Pour into bottles or jars with tight-fitting lids and store in the refrigerator – up to several months, if it lasts that long!
by: Debbie Reed