When you tire of summer salads, try soup! Now that seems like an odd notion in mid-summer. But…. High-summer season vegetables are coming in now: zucchini, green beans, sweet, sweet carrots. So toss them all in a soup pot and after you make some vegetable stock, make some vegetable soup. Nutritious, delicious and naturally low-calorie/carb.
1 onion (or 2 spring onions, with greens cut up and added later)
2 large carrots, diced medium
4 garlic cloves, minced medium
thyme – fresh or dried
1 zucchini – soaked, then cut into quarters and sliced
1 bay leaf
¼ to ½ # green beans, tipped and tailed, cut into 1-1/2 to 2” pieces OR bunch of swiss chard, stems removed, leaves torn and washed
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed
optional: corn cut from 2-3 ears; leftover rice; parmesan cheese rind; scallions if no fresh onion greens
- Put zucchini in sink or bowl to soak whole. (Removes any soil that settled into skin.) Dice onion, then carrots.
- Heat soup pot and add 2-3 T oil over medium-high heat. Cook onions with salt until soft. Add carrots, zucchini, thyme, S&P (hearty pinch of salt!), and cook until softened. Stir in garlic and bay leaf and cook for a minute until fragrant.
- Pour in vegetable stock – about 4-5 cups total (can include some water), and bring to rapid simmer. Throw in green beans and cook about 10+ minutes until just tender. Add rinsed beans, and corn and/or rice, if using.
If you have leftovers, refrigerate for up to one week.
There are many ways of making coleslaw. Almost too many that it had me perplexed and shy about plunging in. There’s high fat with mayonnaise, mayonnaise and sour cream and/or buttermilk. And celery salt, mustard seeds and dry mustard. Add in some chopped spring onions, celery and/or red pepper. Here’s a creamy version (I prefer Bragg’s apple cider vinegar which adds flavor in addition to just acid.) Here’s another.
Or make a vinaigrette type, perhaps with lime, cilantro and Serrano peppers. Or try this one.
I was perplexed about which way to go and then last night just plunged in when I had some oysters to fry for dinner. I mixed up some mayonnaise and sour cream (half and half is too much sour cream, I learned), mustard seed, plenty of celery seed, dry mustard, and S&P. I sliced half a head of a farmers market green cabbage, and ran a carrot through the food processor. Mixed together and put in refrigerator for half an hour while I fried some oysters. Coleslaw is good to counterbalance fatty, rich meat-type foods.
Next time I think I will use buttermilk to cut the mayo and no sour cream; add some apple cider vinegar and perhaps just a touch of sugar for balance.
Any way you do it, it will most likely be more flavorful than the sorry flaccid stuff served in tablespoon-size paper dishes at diners. Next time I’m going to experiment with buttermilk.
If you have time you can soak the cabbage for an hour. Or salt it(!) and let liquid drain, which – like cucumbers – makes the cabbage stay crisp in the liquid of the salad.
Sugar snap peas are one of the delights of early summer. Fresh, green and vibrant. Cooking them in a gentle manner will preserve the bright flavor. I like this steam/sauté technique. Works well with other vegetables such as carrots.
Tip and peel strings on sides of sugar snaps. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat, add a nub of butter, sugar snaps, a few splashes of water and salt. Or throw them all in at one time. Cover and steam a couple minutes. Partially remove cover to let water evaporate. Takes about 5 minutes. Do not overcook! If you want to hold them for other dinner items to be done, undercook them a bit.
For carrots, slice and do the initial steaming part for longer. They’re heartier than sugar snaps, so remove the cover and let the heat boil off the water, and let the butter glaze the carrots beautifully. One of the nicest things you can do to farmers markets carrots in July into the fall.
I love my Weber grill. Or used to. It was great in the summer to grill vegetables and other things. What was always a challenge was cooking barbecued chicken. The sugar in the barbecue sauce would burn. I learned to cook the chicken first over a cooler part of the grill, then add sauce at the end. More recently I decided to avoid the drama and used my oven broiler. Works great! I find chicken thighs are the most desirable for high heat cooking. There’s more meat than legs, and the dark meat does not dry out like breasts do. So get yourself some good local chicken thighs, some good barbecue sauce (or make your own, heat up your broiler, and you can have chicken in less than 25 minutes!
I adapted this from a Gourmet magazine recipe, picking up the technique of a short marinade in lemon juice. It adds a bright flavor back note to the cooked chicken.
4 chicken thighs
barbecue sauce (I like Dinosaur)
- Slice off some lemon rind with a vegetable peeler, and then make slices with a knife. Juice half the lemon. Put into wide bowl. Put S&P on chicken, and add chicken to bowl; turn in lemon zest and juice while you heat your oven to about 450 degrees.
- Turn on broiler. Put chicken pieces on broiler pan skin side up, and put in oven 4 inches from broiler. Broil 5 minutes and turn. Repeat for 15 minutes.
- Remove chicken from oven and slather on sauce on one side. Broil for 4 minutes or until cooked but not burnt. Remove chicken, turn over with tongs, and slather and sauce and broil again.
Serve with sautéed sugar snap peas and/or coleslaw.