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Zucchini Ribbons with Lemon-Parsley Dressing

Committee meeting working lunch, 9/6/12

In this very simple recipe, raw zucchini becomes a simple salad with a bright, fresh dressing.

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh, if possible)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped toasted almonds or walnuts (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes (optional)

Using a slicer, matchstick shredder, or vegetable peeler, go down the zucchini lengthwise to make long, thin ribbons. Place in a bowl.

Prepare the dressing: in a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Pour over zucchini, add chopped parsley, and toss to combine. Top with nuts, tomatoes, and cheese (if using). Taste, and add more salt and pepper if desired. Serve.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

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Peppers and Potatoes with Pesto

Committee meeting working lunch, 8/16/12

This simple dish shows off the flavors of summer.

In a large pot, cover chopped potatoes with salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.

While potatoes are cooking, heat a large skillet over high heat. Add oil, then add peppers with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers are beginning to get browned and tender, about 5-7 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine cooked potatoes, cooked peppers, and pesto. Toss to combine. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

Serves 6.

All the ingredients in bold are things you can grow in your own garden.

Baba Ghanoush

Garden training picnic, 9/19/12

This Middle Eastern eggplant dip is smooth, creamy, tasty, and a perfect introduction to eggplant for people who can be put off by its unusual texture.

  • 2 medium eggplants*
  • 4 cloves garlic*, minced
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parsley* leaves, chopped

Cook the eggplants directly on a burner (high heat) or on a hot grill. Continue to cook until the skin is completely blackened and the inside is completely soft, about 20-30 minutes. (Alternatively, you can cut the eggplant in half, place it cut side down on a baking sheet, and bake at 450 until completely tender – less mess, although you miss out on smokiness.) Once eggplant is cooked, place in a tightly covered dish to steam for 15-20 minutes. Then, uncover and allow to cool. Peel cooked eggplant using your hands.

Into a food processor, add cooked eggplant flesh, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Blend thoroughly. Then, with the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. The baba ghanoush should become lighter in color and creamy. Add chopped parsley and pulse briefly to combine. Add additional salt to taste if needed.

Serve with crackers or pita.

*These items can be grown right in your garden.

Peperonata

This simple dish of stewed peppers and onions with herbs shows off summer farmers market produce at its best.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions*, thinly sliced
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano* or marjoram* (divided between beginning and end of cooking)
  • 3 large sweet bell peppers* (red, yellow, or orange), thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add oil to heat, then add onions, 1 tablespoon chopped herbs, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add peppers and another pinch of salt and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers are tender, 20-30 minutes.

Add remaining chopped herbs, vinegar. Taste and add additional salt if needed. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Serves 6 as a side dish.

*These ingredients can be grown in your garden.

Salsa Verde – Italian Herb Sauce

This bold, bright Italian sauce is great on meat – try it with roast pork or chicken. It’s also great on farmers market vegetables – try it with grilled zucchini or eggplant. Salsa verde also goes well on pasta or toasted bread.

  • 1 cup (tightly packed) parsley* OR a combination of 1/2 cup parsley and 1/2 cup mint*, roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers, roughly chopped (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Combine chopped parsley (or parsley and mint) and oil in a blender or food processor and pulse to combine. Add lemon zest and juice and capers (if using) and pulse to combine. Try the salsa verde, then add salt to taste.

Makes about 3/4 cup.

*Parsley and mint can be grown in your own garden.

Basic Basil Pesto and Variations

Pesto is a great way to use fresh herbs, and it’s great on more than just pasta. Try your pesto on toasted bread with some fresh tomatoes for a delicious summer appetizer.

  • 2 cups basil* leaves, packed
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt

In a food processor, combine basil, nuts, and garlic. Pulse a few times to combine. Then, with the food processor running, add the oil in a steady stream. Open the machine and scrape down the sides, then pulse to combine again. Add the grated cheese and pulse again to combine. Taste the pesto, and add salt to taste.

Makes 1 cup.

Variations:

  • Walnut or Almond Pesto – Use roughly chopped walnuts or almonds in place of the pine nuts.
  • Any-Herb Pesto– Use the herb of your choice (or a combination) in place of the basil. Parsleymint,chivesmarjoramoreganosage, and rosemary* all work well. Combining strong herbs with parsley makes for a more mild pesto.
  • You can vary the herbs and the nuts at the same time to find the combination you like best.

*All of these herbs can be grown in your own garden.

PRESERVE YOUR HERBS

How do you keep the fresh herb flavor for a long time? Try these tips to keep the taste of summer all year long.

HERB OIL: Herbs in oil can stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 weeks because the oil covers the herbs and prevents them from spoiling. Use herb oil as a starting point to make a vinaigrette or pesto, or just add on meat, vegetables, or pasta for a burst of herb flavor.

To make herb oil (any herb, or a combination you like), roughly chop 1 cup of the herb. Place in food processor or blender and add 1/2 cup olive oil. Pulse to combine

PESTO and SALSA VERDEAs with making herb oil, putting your herbs in an oil-based sauce helps them stay fresh for longer.

FREEZE OIL/SAUCE FOR LONG-TERM STORAGE: Herb oils, pesto, and salsa verde keep very well in the freezer. You can make a large batch, then freeze in ice cube trays or in a thin, flat layer in a plastic freezer bag. That way, you can defrost only the amount you need by taking a few cubes or breaking off a piece from your thin layer.