Utilizing a bountiful harvest

Sally Uhlmann does it again with a wonderful selection of colourful and tasty cheap and cheerful dishes...

It’s that time of year when Cortona vegetable gardens are producing such an abundance that it can be baffling to figure out ways to utilize it all. Between hot summer days, guests, and a desire to keep things simple, it’s a challenge. Hopefully these recipes will inspire, and jumpstart your thinking of all the scrumptious possibilities.
Zucchini Pancakes
Zucchini for breakfast? When it tastes better than donuts, fritters, or regular pancakes, why not?
Serves 2, can be easily doubled
3 small zucchinis (@ 1 1/2 cups-375ml), grated
1 teaspoon (15ml) salt, divided
¾ cup (185ml) all purpose (“1”) flour
¼ cup (60ml) cornmeal flour
1 tablespoon (15ml) sugar
1 tablespoon (15ml) cornstarch
1 teaspoon (5ml) baking powder
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) baking soda
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon (15ml) yogurt
1 cup (250ml) milk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon (15ml) butter
Corn, vegetable, or canola oil for frying
            1. Put grated zucchini in a colander. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt and let drain for at least 10 minutes.
            2. Put all dry ingredients, including remaining salt, in a small bowl and whisk together.
            3. Whisk yogurt in a medium bowl before whisking in the milk and egg.
            4. Use your hands to squeeze small clumps of the grated zucchini over the sink until no moisture is left. You will have about half the amount of zucchini you started with. Add to milk mixture.
            5. Melt butter in a frying skillet large enough to hold 4 pancakes. When butter is melted, pour it into the milk. Whisk, then add dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
            6. Pour enough oil in the skillet that it about 1/3rd inch (.85cm) deep and heat over medium high until oil shimmers. (Note: rather than semi-deep frying, you can rub a small amount of oil in the pan and prepare the cakes like normal pancakes, however frying them is so much more delicious.)
            7. Make 4 pancakes by pouring about 1/3 cup (80ml) batter for each pancake in the pan. Work quickly. Adjust heat to keep from burning while frying for about 2 minutes on each side until crispy and brown. Plate. Add more oil if needed and repeat, using up the batter. Serve with butter and maple syrup.
Cucumber Melon Salad
Serves 4
Nothing cools off the summer heat more than a cucumber. By combining cucumbers with cantaloupe melon, you have a meaty salad that is both satisfying and slightly unusual. Pair it with grilled meats, fish, or the Zucchini Frittata.
Dressing: Prepare up to 3 days in advance
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon (15ml) white balsamic or champagne vinegar
¼ teaspoon (1.25ml) ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon (.63ml) each: salt, pepper, chili powder
Salad:
2 cups (500ml) peeled and cubed English cucumber
2 cups (500ml) peeled and cubed cantaloup melon
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped and toasted pistachios
            1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake well.
            2. Put cucumber, melon, and mint in a bowl. Toss with dressing. Taste. Adjust vinegar, salt or chili powder if you want a more pronounced flavor. Sprinkle with pistachios and serve.
Grilled Vegetables: Adapted from my cookbook, Just Cook with Sally
Grilled vegetables are succulent whether charred over an open flame, charcoal, or a gas grill. Flavor is further enhanced with dry rubs or marinades. Vegetables with higher moisture content benefit from dry rubs while drier vegetables are more flavorful marinated. If you marinate the vegetable, use some marinade for basting before and after cooking. Serve a single vegetable, such as eggplant, or make combinations such as eggplants, zucchini, onions, peppers. Great hot, warm or room temperature. Grilled vegetables are terrific combined with pasta, either hot or as a pasta salad. Use your imagination!
1.     Prepare the vegetables (count on 1 cup of vegetables per person) and either: • rub them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt • dry rub them with dry rub of your choice • marinate them with olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, and fresh herbs for between 10 minutes and 2 hours. Use a marinade or dry rub that complements your meal’s flavor profile.
2.     Prepare a fairly hot grill to ensure a delicious char. Grill vegetable, resisting the urge to turn them until they are slightly charred. Regulate the position of the vegetables to keep from burning. If you have marinade, brush the vegetables with the marinade. Cook until al dente, remembering that each vegetable requires a different cooking time.
3.     Remove to a platter and brush with either olive oil or the marinade, sprinkle with fresh herbs or freshly squeezed citrus juice, or drizzle with a finishing sauce. Dipping sauces are also good. Serve straight off the grill for accompaniments to main courses. Cool to room temperature for including on a vegetable platter.
Cherry Tomato Ambrosia
            You absolutely need this in your refrigerator. It’s your secret ingredient for jazzing up meals. Serve it with crusty bread or as a bruschetta and watch people gobble it up; add it as a topping to make hummus or white bean dip more interesting; warm it and toss in with pasta, basil, toasted pine nuts and parmesan for a main course; let it perk up grilled vegetables; the tomato infused olive oil is dynamite in dressings. It will keep refrigerated in a closed container for days.
9 cups (2,250ml) cherry tomatoes—red, yellow, or mixed
1 tablespoon (15ml) coarse salt
1 teaspoon (5ml) dried oregano
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) red chili flakes
4 cloves minced fresh garlic
1 cup (250ml) olive oil
            1. Preheat oven to 300*F (149C). Place all ingredients in a large ceramic/porcelain baking pan and toss. Put in oven.
            2. Cook over low temperature for 4 hours, tossing the mixture with a flat wooden spoon from time to time. Remove from oven, and use as wanted, refrigerating in a container with a lid. Reheat or serve at room temperature.
Zucchini and Mushroom Frittata
Serves 4 as a Starter, 2 as a Main Course
For an easy lunch or a hearty breakfast, consider making a frittata. The zucchini in this pairs perfectly with feta. I used fennel fronds as the fresh herb, but fresh dill, oregano, marjoram, or a combination of parsley and chives are also good options. Serve this plain or topped with a salsa or dab of sour cream.
3 small zucchinis, halved and sliced
6 medium mushrooms, cleaned, halved, and sliced
¼ red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15ml) butter
6 eggs
¼ cup (60ml) milk
1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh herb of choice—fennel fronds or dill are excellent
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons (30ml) Parmesan cheese, divided
8 ounces (226gr) feta cheese
            1. Preheat oven to 375*F (190*C). Prepare the vegetables. Melt butter in an 8”-10” (20-23cm) cast iron or oven-proof, non-stick skillet. Add vegetables and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté over medium-to-medium high heat until soft, about 6-8 minutes. Regulate heat so all liquid evaporates but vegetable do not get too brown.
            2. Beat eggs, milk, 1 tablespoon (15ml) of Parmesan and ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) each of salt and pepper in a bowl.
            3. When vegetables are soft, toss them with a wooden spoon making certain nothing is sticking, adjust heat to medium, then quickly crumble feta on top, keeping pieces about the size of the vegetables. Immediately pour the eggs over evenly without stirring. Sprinkle the top with the remaining tablespoon of Parmesan. Cook undisturbed until bottom is set, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer pan to oven and bake until set, about 4-5 minutes. Top should be slightly brown and have a spring to it when you poke it with a finger. Remove from oven and either serve in wedges from pan or carefully invert on a plate after running a spatula under the bottom.
Sally Uhlmann, 11/08/2022 12:56:03
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