Summer Vegetable Surplus

I am don’t grow my own, vegetables that is, as many are. I have heard about surfeits of zucchini, tomatoes, okra, and other summer vegetables. As summer sneaks up on us in isolation, it’s upon us again and our household has been enjoying the bounty.

I’ve been doing my best to create variety with green zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplants. A few old recipes have been unearthed and joined new ones in the repertoire.

Zucchini. A most prolific vegetable, you can sautee, stew, roast, grill, and stuff, and even make it into bread (one recipe I do not care for). All good. As I leafed through my thick binder with recipes cut from a variety of sources, zucchini and terrine recipe jumped out. When did I make this last, I could not recall. It’s really easy after a number of steps.

Zucchini and terrine. Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a loaf pan. Cook 1/2 cup of rice as you cook rice. Chop 1 onion and about 2 pounds of zucchini and mince 2 cloves of garlic. In a frying pan with one tablespoon of oil, cook the oven for about 5 minutes, add the zucchini and garlic and cook about 10 more minutes til soft.

zucchinis and onions in the pan

Beat 2 eggs in a bowl. Add the rice, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup chopped parsley, 1/2 tsp. thyme and the cooked vegetables.

The recipe says to put it all together in the pan – I layer the rice, then the vegetables, and top with the rice – making a terrine. Bake about 40-60 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

borekas in the background, see below

Another old recipe was at the back of my mind – zucchini soup. Again, an easy one that results in a tasty, refreshing summer dish.

Zucchini soup. In a saucepan over a medium-high heat. heat 2 tbsp of oil. Ass 1 medium chopped onion and 1 chopped clove of garlic. Cook about 4 minutes. Add 5 cups of chicken stock and 3 tbsp of uncooked rice. Simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Add about 1 pound of grated zucchini, salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 15 minutes. You can add a beaten egg and 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese at this point – I’ve not done this.

zucchini soup

Eggplant. Another versatile ingredient used in many cuisines around the world. I have to work around Daughter’s intolerance of any piquancy and certain herbs, often used to “spice” up eggplant recipes. That means no pepper in any form (well, a little ground black pepper), no cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, etc. I also shy away from frying eggplant, not a technique my mother used frequently.

As an aside – when we frequently watch Chopped and hear the judges repeatedly criticize the lack of flavor, I have often wondered – what about the simple, unadorned flavor of the ingredients? Do they need to be boosted by outside elements? I find that my adjustments give center stage to the basic flavors of what the component parts.

Back to eggplant, two types have been in our larder recently, the large globe eggplant and the cutest small round (Indian) eggplants. With two of the globes (I still have another in the crisper), I made a favorite Greek dish, papoutsakia – a cousin of the Turkish iman bayldi (see 1-21-20 post) – stuffed eggplant.

The little eggplants were simply roasted. Quarter them, top to bottom, (I also snuck in one chopped yellow summer squashes), toss with about ¼ cup of oil*, put them on a baking tin, and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for forty minutes. Give a stir after about twenty minutes. 

I put them on a rack afterwards to get them out of the oil

*Note. A while ago I saw a number of recipes for scallion oil. I used this oil; it really added to the flavor.

Scallion oil. Use about 10 scallions, cut into thirds and slice into thin strips. Pour about ¾ cup of oil into a wok, add white parts of scallions to oil, cook about 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Add dark green parts of scallions, stir to combine, cook about 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, remove scallions. Pour oil through a fine-mesh sieve into an airtight container. Chill til ready to use.

The roast eggplant mixture found its way into two dishes. First, as a topper for linguine; add tomatoes for Pasta Norma, a satisfying and filling non-meat dinner. Second was vegetable-filled borekas, a turnover beloved by Sephardic Jews worldwide. In fact, in a recent zoom cooking class with Michael Solomonov, he referred to borekas as real Israeli food because of their pervasiveness there. This time, I made my dough with whole-wheat flour with imparted a more earthy flavor.

roasted veges on pasta

Two recent recipes incorporated all of the above and more (according to what you have on hand). A family favorite I’ve already written about is couscous aux sept legumes (see 9-21-20 post) this time from the well-worn Paula Wolfort cookbook, one of Constant Companion’s early contributions to our household. I prepared it with boneless beef short rib and not quite have the seven vegetables.

a classic, for every kitchen!
ready to eat!

Dirty rice. Another eggplant dish is a recent, much enjoyed acquisition – dirty rice, originally from Food and Wine magazine. In a large casserole, heat ¼ cup of oil to shimmering. Add 3 chopped celery stalks, 2 chopped green peppers, and 1 medium onion chopped (the holy trinity in New Orleans). Cook about 15 minutes covered, then another 10 minutes uncovered. Add 1 eggplant chopped in ¾” cubes, 1 tbsp thyme, ½ tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp white pepper, ¼ tsp cayenne. Cook about 8 minutes, til eggplant is softened. Stir in 3 garlic cloves chopped and 1 tbsp tomato paste, cook about a minute. Add ¼ cup soy sauce, make sure to scrape the bottom. Stir in 1 ½ cups medium grained rice and 2 ½ cups vegetable both. Cover and cook til rice is soft. Serve with hot sauce (Constant Companion enjoy this).

dirty rice, yum

As I write, my fridge is once again groaning from another load of these bountiful summer vegetables and also some okra from a generous neighbor. I’ll see what else I can find to make ymmy use of this wealth.

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