August is here — it’s veggie time!
Tomatoes are plentiful. My daughter Jenny has had really good luck with hers this year. Her plants look like brown Christmas trees adorned with lots of bright red ornaments, thanks to the heat. This year’s crop has come and will soon be gone.
The farmers markets are going strong, offering the good local things we’ve waited all those long, cold months for. Tomatoes, of course; crisp green beans; sugar snap peas; leaf lettuce; kale and its cousins, turnip greens and collards; carrots; green, yellow, red and orange sweet peppers; new potatoes; succulent little yellow summer squash; and zucchini.
Any day now, the work table in our copier room at the office will come alive with zucchini large and small, home-grown tomatoes, and sweet peppers with a sign reading, “Help yourself — please!”
By the end of the day, all of it will be gone. Zucchini is a sneaky veggie you can grate it or puree it and hide it in just about anything, as long as people aren’t on the lookout for little green specks. Why would you want to? Because it’s good for you. Zucchini is low in fat and carbs and fairly high in fiber to help keep you hydrated and healthy. It’s great for baking breads that hold their moisture.
Debbie, my co-worker, brought me some gorgeous fresh backyard basil last week. She followed up a day later with about two pounds of just picked green beans from her husband’s garden. He planted some stringless beans (might have been Blue Lake) along with half runners. I snapped them and shelled some of the half runners, then cooked them in broth with some lean ham, a little sea salt and a pinch of sugar, the old-fashioned southern way. They tasted so good.
Deb gave me a recipe of hers that I’ll try the next time I come across some really fresh green beans. If you try it before I do, be sure to let me know how good it was.
1 to 1 1 2 pounds fresh green beans, rinsed, strung and snapped
Water to cover
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon butter
In a large saucepan, bring beans and water to a boil. Cook 10 minutes over medium heat, just until they’re bright green and a little tender. Drain beans.
Pour oil into a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add garlic and saute on low heat for 30 seconds. Add drained beans. Toss or stir-fry until coated with oil and almost tender, but still really green (about 5-8 minutes).
Serves five to six.
For a change, try adding thinly sliced sweet onion to the garlic. Add a few drops of sesame oil to cook the garlic or two strips of crisp bacon crumbled in at the last minute.
Hooray for summer!
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.