Lately, I feel like RRG has gotten a little heavy on the rants…a little light on the recipes. This is not a problem for me, a human being born with too many words to speak or write in a lifetime, but it occurs to me that the situation may get a bit tedious for you readers. Even my own wonderful sister, D., said to me a while back, “I think you just need to share more recipes.”
She’s not wrong. RRG is becoming a bona fide food blog in some ways, which surprises me slightly. I think of myself as being a competent home cook, but nothing special. I just like to take care with the foods we choose to purchase, cook, and eat. But somewhere along the way, sharing recipes and food ideas became a big part of what I do here.
Right now, a couple of recipes seem like exactly the right thing to populate this space for the evening, because we’re at a time of year when everything about cooking and eating, in my household, just embodies what my food philosophy is all about. With the Farmer’s Market lush with produce of all varieties, there is no better time to be a cook or eater in New England. And there’s certainly no better time to be a budget-conscious, whole ingredient, locavore cook and eater who’s trying desperately to reduce her family’s consumption of meat.
The more delicious and varied the vegetable offerings, the easier I find it to come up with inventive and delicious vegetarian meals (there’s a “duh” moment. I’m short on profound epiphanies tonight, I guess). And, the more inventive and delicious the vegetarian fare at this time of year, the lighter my grocery bill becomes. This week we’re about $50 under budget (though we made up for some of that by getting Thai takeout in a moment of weakness and sheer exhaustion, a few days ago), but eating amazing meals that just FEEL so good going down. And I have the rather smug satisfaction of knowing that most of my food dollars went right into the pockets of local farmers. What could be better?
Both of these easy, super-summery vegetarian dishes are Mexican/Southwestern inspired; both can be made in under 20 minutes and with very little heat going into the kitchen. They’d actually pair very nicely together, I think, but we didn’t eat them that way. And both dishes take advantage of the best produce the markets have to offer at the height of a New England summer.
We served this with grilled cheese and avocado sandwiches for a quick dinner, but it’s also lovely just by itself with a few tortilla chips as a light lunch.
8 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
6 scallions, chopped (whites and light green parts only)
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 cups strained tomatoes or tomato juice, preferably salt-free
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cilantro (optional)
Working in batches, combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, garlic, strained tomatoes, and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Puree to your desired consistency; I leave mine just barely shy of smooth to make it palatable for the kids. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve cold, garnished with chopped cilantro leaves.
Zucchini and Corn Tacos
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 scallions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini, cut into half-moons about 1/4 inch thick
3 ears corn, kernels cut off the cobs
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil (you could also use cilantro or parsley; we accidentally ran out of cilantro and I used basil on a whim, but it was a good discovery)
8 flour tortillas, preferably whole-wheat
Garnish options: Salsa, avocado, sour cream, strong cheese (we used extra-sharp cheddar and thought it gave just the right amount of richness and bite)
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute the garlic and scallions in the olive oil and butter until translucent. Add the zucchini and cook for 2 minutes; add the corn kernels and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, about 7-10 minutes or until the zucchini is softened and the corn is cooked. Adjust the seasonings to taste and stir the basil in at the last minute, right before serving. We had ours in homemade whole-wheat tortillas with a quick fresh salsa of chopped tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic, onion, and lemon juice, and a sprinkle of sharp cheddar cheese.