Tuesday, September 7, 2010

End of Summer Produce Extravaganza - What to do with all that squash...and more

Ahhhh the end of summer is upon us, although you might not think so considering mother nature's gift of unrelenting heat here in Louisville (quick side note...if you thought this summer in Louisville was hot, hot, hot...you're not wrong http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/this-summers-hottest-cities.html).

The beginning of September means a few things...kids returning to school...108 more shopping days 'till Christmas...Nick and my wedding anniversary...and of course, end of summer produce.

By the first week in September I'm just about sick of squash, peaches and green beans. Don't get me started on tomatoes or cucumbers. I've about overdosed on them all by now.

But how can you resist eating them when produce markets are practically giving them away? If you're a cheapskate like me, the answer is, you can't.

So once a week I clean out the fridge of all my surplus produce and get creative. This week two overripe peaches, some corn and the ever present squash were my muse.

Peach BBQ sauce:::

Why didn't I think of this before???!!! You peel a few overripe peaches, throw them into a Cuisinart/blender, give 'em a whirl and mix the puree with your favorite store bought BBQ sauce (mine is Sweet Baby Ray's...ahhhh Baby Ray...he must have been a good man).

I slathered this on some pork chops and Nick threw them on the grill. I can't even begin to tell you how delicious this sauce was. Set some aside for dipping...you will be dipping.

Crisper Drawer Succotash:::

Much like my peach bbq sauce, this succotash was a child of necessity. Also like the sauce, there's really no "recipe" for it. It's just an idea...something to get you thinking about different ways to eat your veggies and to get you out of your end of summer "if I eat another ear of corn on the cob I'll explode" rut.

Towards the end of the week I always find I have one lonely ear of corn, a few halved pieces of zucchini and yellow squash, and some cherry tomatoes that have seen better days hanging around my kitchen.

Perhaps you don't think these things make the best bedfellows, but let me tell you, they do. Just throw some onions in a pan with oil, then start adding veggies. Begin with the corn as it takes the longest to cook (cut it off the cob first of course), then add some garlic, some small cubes of zucchini and squash and finally some cherry tomatoes. Toss it all around until cooked to your liking, add some s&p (I like fresh marjoram too but perhaps that's just because I grow it in my garden and have A LOT of it lying around).

This is such a great side dish. It started as an answer to my plethora of produce and became a beloved veggie dish.

For dessert...a use for those strawberries that have seen better days...
Strawberry Marscapone Tarts:::

Ok. This one does require some measurements but only for the crust. And don't worry...this isn't my crust recipe...I stole it, so you can be sure it's good (me no bakey). Oh, and if you're not big on baking either you can always just skip to the bottom of the page for my cheat sheet.

To make the tart crust:::

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts(I use walnuts sometimes and it's great) plus 3/4 cup, toasted (about 8 ounces in total)
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus 3/4 cup
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly


Blend the flour, cornmeal, 3/4 cup pine nuts, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse, just until the dough forms. Press the dough over the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of an 11-inch-diameter tart pan with a removable bottom. Refrigerate until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line the tart dough with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the tart shell in the lower third of the oven until just set, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and pie weights. Bake the shell until golden, about 10 minutes longer. Cool completely.

For the filling::::

Marscapone cheese
Powdered sugar
Vanilla extract
Touch of milk

Take some marscapone cheese (which you can find just about everywhere these days) and add powdered sugar until it's as sweet as you like. Then add some vanilla extract until it's got the depth of flavor you like. Then add some milk until it's the consistency you like. Seriously...there's no right or wrong. You just want it to be sweet and creamy, with a consistency of cheese cake filling.

Then just fill the tarts with the marscapone mixture and top with sliced strawberries. My husband ate a good 2 or 3 mini tarts himself the other night.

If the whole baking part is too much to handle you can always buy a pre-made shell OR just put the filling and berries on a store bought sugar cookie. Honestly...I would eat the filling and berries right out of a bowl.

So there you have it. Some inspiration from some very uninspiring sources...old produce. Next time you think of throwing those old veggies away think twice...waste not want not...these recipes are yummy.

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