Have you eaten a garden tomato lately? How about a cucumber? There is no comparison with the products known by the same name from the grocery store. And if you don’t garden, find a friend who will share; go to a farmers’ market, or visit the community garden. Taking the time to seek out fresh, local vegetables is more than worth the effort.
We sometimes forget how good a garden ripe vegetable tastes and the benefits of a ripened vegetable to our taste buds. It’s summer menu time; bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches, cucumbers and onions in vinegar, sugar, and water (or sour cream), and spaghetti squash. And don’t forget zucchini!
I put together a stove zucchini dish a few nights ago. We had invited a guest whose tastes I thought might be gastronomically attuned to garden food, but I wasn’t sure. Fred planned to grill bratwurst, and we already had the buns, catsup, mustard, pickles. But this was not enough.
I peeled, cored, and diced about 4 zucchinis. They were larger than those dinky ones in the grocery store, so you might need more. I diced about 5-6 cups, diced 2 or three onions, scooped a lot of minced garlic out of a store bought jar, and sautéed it all in olive oil. As I salted and peppered, I tasted. Fred says I snack too much between meals! Well, of course, I do. One must taste the food to see how it is shaping up, right?
As the mixture softened and turned over, I chopped 4 or 5 tomatoes (with skins) and folded them into the mixture. Yellow squash would be a good addition as well. I tasted. It needed basil! I happened to have a jar of basil paste in the refrigerator, stuck way in the back. It comes in jars and in tubes. The tubes are in the produce area and easy to find.
I added a big glop of it. By now, the vegetables were creating their own juice? I kept adding the basil. Another big glop. Oh my gosh, this concoction was getting so good! After simmering for five or ten minutes, I added the “big guy”, the head honcho, the terminator! Shredded cheese! I used an entire package.
Now, we had something going on!
Our male guest remarked, “yum!” The leftovers went into the refrigerator, and I assure you there were not many left.”
A friend shared her grandmother’s recipe using zucchini. This is from “Grammy Burris,” handed down in her own writing. This is a complete meal, since it already has the meat. Here goes.
1 pound ground beef, 1 cup chopped onion, 1 ½ tsp. salt, pepper, 1 t. pepper, ¼ cup chopped green pepper, 1 clove garlic minced, 5 cups zucchini diced, 2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped, 1 ¼ cup fresh whole kernel corn, 2 T. chopped pimiento, ¼ c. chopped parsley.
Saute ground beef, onion, pepper, and garlic in a large skillet until well browned. Add remaining ingredients, cover and simmer 20 minutes. You can use canned tomatoes, dried parsley. If you have pimentos, then 1 tsp. of sugar really helps. A can of corn can be added instead.
I am going to try it soon. Hope you do also. Happy Summer eating!
Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or juditabler@awomansview.