My good friend Annie left a basket of summer produce from her garden on my front step the other day. It's fun to use these gestures as inspiration for my blog but I wondered what I could come up with that would be interesting and different enough that involves summer squash and tomatoes? Hasn't it all been done before? The answer came last night when I went to have dinner with my friend Carol. She was making a warm kale salad (she is always trying some new recipe!) and invited me to join her. I brought my garden offerings and at her suggestion, came up with this fabulous rendition of the classic Caprese! How refreshing to create such a simple salad with these 'all too often' over abundant summer garden ingredients! I hope you agree.
Summer Squash & Tomato Caprese
1 large, red garden tomato, sliced
10 small, gold cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 raw zucchini or trumpet squash, sliced on a mandoline
1 raw yellow crook neck squash, sliced on a mandoline
fresh mozzarella balls
fresh basil, torn into pieces
sea salt & freshly cracked pepper
good olive oil to drizzle
Arrange the tomato slices on a platter. Tuck the thinly sliced squash in between. .Place the golden tomatoes around the outside of the platter with the mozzarella balls, however many you feel is enough and still looks balanced. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the torn basil, sea salt and pepper. Serves 4.
Easter is the perfect time of year to share this ‘Spicy Marinated Carrots’ appetizer! Stolen (with permission!) from my good friend Kathleen, this recipe is incredibly easy & enormously flavorful! Traditionally made with cut carrots, the elegance & beauty of whole carrots with their bright green tops, make this so much more special, & tasty enough to please Bugs Bunny himself!
Spicy Marinated Carrots
1 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup sugar
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t dried thyme
1 t dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/4 t red pepper flakes
2# carrots, peeled & cut into sticks or use whole baby carrots!
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c country dijon mustard
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
Put all the ingredients except the carrots, oil, mustard and parsley in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir to combine and to melt sugar. Toss in the carrots, drizzle with oil and cook 30 - 40 minutes covered, at a simmer, until fork tender, keeping crisp but absorbing liquid. Remove from heat and let cool in the liquid for 15 minutes or so. Drain liquid and toss with the mustard. Let come to room temperature. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.
I was going to write a blog about figs but every time I leave the house and return, it’s as though the Easter bunny (aka my friendly gardener & friend Annie) has come late and deposited beautiful colors of eggplants on my doorstep!
I love to use eggplant to make ratatouille, it is the perfect dish for using up the garden’s bounty, but I wanted to find something more interesting to make. Here is what I came up with:
Roasted Eggplant w/Honey, Jalapeño, Garlic, Cilantro & Lime
6 Japanese style eggplant, cut down the middle lengthwise or 1 large regular eggplant, cut in
half & sliced into half moons
3 T olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1/3 cup honey
2 jalapeno, sliced crosswise into rings
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
cilantro, whole or torn leaves to scatter over
1 lime, squeezed over the eggplant before serving
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the eggplant, garlic and jalapeño in the olive oil, salt &
pepper and spread out cut side down on a sheet pan. Drizzle w/honey and roast for 20 minutes.
It should be nice and brown and caramelized, almost candied. Let cool for 15 minutes then
squeeze lime over and sprinkle w/cilantro. Eat!
And…for your Summer recipe box
Wratatouille (Wren Ratatouille)
1 large eggplant cut into 1” chunks
1 red onion, cut into wide slivers
2 squash, zucchini, yellow, whatever kind you have
1 large or 8 mini peppers, all colors
4 large cloves of garlic, chopped roughly, about 4 tsp
4 T olive oil
salt and pepper
2 t herbs de Provence
In a large skillet put a tablespoon of the oil & heat until hot, toss in one vegetable at a time,
cooking each one separately adding salt & pepper and 1 tsp of the garlic. Sprinkle with the
herbs, about 1/2 tsp. After sautéeing each veggie until al dente, place in a large bowl together
and toss. Beautiful!
Cut fruit in half (apricots, peaches, plums or nectarines), toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper and place on a hot grill until you can see grill marks forming. Flip once and then pull off and serve with your favorite grilled meat. Chicken, pork, lamb or duck all work well, even beef! Add spices like curry, cumin or cinnamon, garnish with fresh herbs like basil & thyme. Brush with molasses, pomegranate molasses, honey or aged balsamic vinegar. Be creative, so many choices, so little time...
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"