produce surplus -- ideas needed
here's what I did:
cucumbers -- salted, drained and rinsed. Made salad w/ rice vinegar, sugar, red onions and dill. Refreshing!
sugar snaps -- parboiled and served as crudites
summer squash -- nothing yet. Am thinking of grilled (natch!) and then sauteeing some w/ corn.
scallions -- sour cream/yogurt/mayo dip w/ scallions & chives
Sliced cucumbers in sour cream or Greek style yogurt (or a combo) with a little salt or English style mint sauce makes a great side for spicy dishes. English cucumber sandwiches are also lovely in the summer: buttered white bread (or go whole wheat if you want to be healthy! and be sure to use real butter), cucumber slices, a bit of salt and white pepper. Cut off the crusts and cut into triangles and serve on a pretty plate with some watercress. Don't forget to hold up your little finger when you eat them!
Cucumber salads are so wonderful - crispy, light and perfect for summer. I do an asian one - just slice the cucumbers and add a little rice vinegar, cayenne, some of those scallions sliced, a little sesame oil, and maybe a dash of sugar.
For the squash, you can simply roast or grill it. I cut it into strips, then toss with some olive oil and salt, and sometimes a little garlic/lemon. If you add some nice big crunchy salt at the end it is especially heavenly.
Following a very versitile pasta recipe that can be used for what-ever you happen to have on hand:
Serves 2 plus some leftovers for lunch
Start boiling water (with some salt) for pasta. Use whatever pasta you have around, I like the chunky kinds best (like penne or bow ties), but spaghetti works too. Below proportions are for 1/2 pound of pasta, which are perfect for the 2 of use plus one or two lunches.
Meanwhile, prep whatever else:
â€¢ Vegetables (blanched): Use up to 1-3 cups of asparagus, peas, broccoli or other vegetables cut in bite size pieces. The trick -- add to pasta pot and cook (need to judge how much time to cook the veggies, generally add 2-3 minutes before the pasta is done).
â€¢ Aromatics and other Vegetables (sautÃ©ed): I always use some onions or garlic or shallots. Use up to 1-2 cups of onions, shallots, mushrooms, zucchini, and/or bell peppers. Red pepper flakes are good to throw in too. Spinach or other greens are great (best if chopped a bit), add just before adding the pasta.
â€¢ Meat (optional): Leftover roasted or grilled meat, chicken or sausage (cut into chunks), or black forest ham (cut sandwich slices into strips). Bacon or other raw meats (chicken, shrimp) are also great, but you will need to start in a separate skillet while pasta cooks.
â€¢ Herbs: whatever you like, . Fresh basil (when I get from my herb garden in the summer) is great, if I donâ€™t have fresh herbs, I usually donâ€™t bother. Add with the pasta.
â€¢ Cheese: Usually I use a hard cheese (like parmesan) but again, whatever you have on hand.. about Â½ cup, shredded. Goat cheese is also yummy, but do try to avoid anything stringy when it melts (like mozzarella).
â€¢ Nuts: A nice addition if there is no meat. Walnuts or pine nuts, toasted in the toaster oven (1 cycle through â€œtoastâ€ on a foil lined pan) are good.
â€¢ Otherâ€¦ Tomatoes (good fresh ones, chopped), olives, other leftover veggiesâ€¦
When the pasta (and vegetables if you cooked w/ pasta) is done, dip a 1 cup measuring cup in the water and set aside, then drain and leave pasta in the colander. Put the pasta pot back on the stove over medium high heat and add a bit of olive oil (a little less than a tablespoon), add red pepper flakes if desired, and sautÃ© vegetables. When they get soft, or dry (which ever comes first), add white wine or broth or pasta water or a combination, total about 1 cup. Or â€“ if you are feeling rich, add some cream (1/4 a cup) along with broth or wine. Put the cooked pasta and veggies back in the pot, add the cheese (and nuts if you are using), warm up a bit on the stove.. If it seems a bit dry, add some pasta water. The give a good twist of pepper and serveâ€¦
Next day â€“ make into pasta saladâ€¦ add a few drops of vinegar, maybe a little salt and pepper. Best at room temperature.
The place I get sushi from serves cucumbers in a miso vinaigarette sprinkled with chives (scallions instead?). It is so delicious! Hmmm... sugar snap peas could be a tasty addition, too!! For the summer squash, grill it with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and sprinkle with parmiggiano. Delish ;)
This recipe from epicurious is a good base for cucumber quick pickles:
I have never had them with the rye and cheese as the recipe suggests, but rather as a vegetable side, and I cut way back on the sugar because I don't like them too sweet. I'd start with a T. and add until you get it the way you like them. I also add about a quarter of a thinly sliced onion. They have a nice touch of heat which makes them great in the summer. I tend to keep a batch of them in the refrigerator much of the time during the summer.
I love sugar snap peas sauted in sesame oil with a little garlic and ginger, finished with a T. or so of freshly squeezed orange juice and sesame seeds. The orange juice is a nice foil for the fresh, "green" flavor of sugar snap peas (they taste green to me, and I know green isn't a flavor). Try this with some seared rare tuna with a soy-wasabi sauce and some rice.
You could make calabacito with the summer squash, which is a Mexican vegetable side dish involving peppers (you choose based on the level of heat you like), onion (could use scallions), corn, and summer squash all sauted together until the vegetables are just done. I just throw it together based on what I have, but a recipe search would probably turn up some hits to give you ideas about proportions. This pairs well with grilled chicken marinated with lime juice and the seasonings of your choice. I've also had success with marinating summer squash sliced lengthwise in lime juice, canola oil, chili powder, cayenne, and cumin cooked on the grill.