Sizzle Simmer Sauté — Summer dishes fresh from the farm

–by Jennifer Ruple

Jennifer Ruple

Summer is in full bloom as are area farmers markets and community supported agriculture programs (CSAs). Gaining in popularity, due to the farm-to-table movement, CSAs allow a person to purchase a share of a farmer’s crop in advance of the season, and in return, receive a box of fresh produce every week or every other week.

Last month, I shared recipes for dishes I prepared from my very first CSA box – Roasted Beet Hummus, Roasted Balsamic Beets, Peas and Pancetta, and Tortellini with Asparagus and Peas. A small challenge was presented with the inclusion of garlic scapes in my box (even my farm-raised husband wasn’t sure what to do with them). However, after consulting with a foodie friend, I learned that garlic scapes can be used to flavor dishes just like traditional garlic.


This month, my journey continues with a new box of farm-fresh goodies. Here are a handful of dishes I cooked up with July’s bounty. And, as I mentioned, if you have recipes that feature farmers market or CSA veggies and would like to share them with me, send them to I’d love to read them.

Grilled Summer Squash Pasta Salad
Grilled Summer Squash Pasta Salad

Grilled Summer Squash Pasta Salad
This fresh and flavorful pasta and vegetable salad makes a great light lunch or a nice side dish to accompany grilled chicken or beef. I like to incorporate both zucchini and yellow squash to add extra color to it, and I choose pasta with big wells or cavities to cradle the other ingredients.
6 -10 servings

12 ounces pasta
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes
¼ cup olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook pasta according to directions, drain and set aside.

Thread zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes onto metal or wooden skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak them in a pan of water for about 30 minutes prior to threading the vegetables.

Brush vegetables on all sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Transfer skewers to a grill and cook over medium heat for about 12 minutes, turning occasionally, or until tender.

In a large bowl, toss together pasta, vegetables, pine nuts, basil, cheese, and remaining olive oil. Dress with additional basil and pine nuts.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

Cucumber and Radish Salad
Creamy Cucumber and Radish Salad

Creamy Cucumber and Radish Salad
Crispy cucumbers and peppery radishes make up this simple cool and creamy summer salad. Peel them before slicing or leave some of their skin on for color and crunch. As the mixture settles, the cucumbers will begin to release liquid. For a thicker consistency, serve this salad immediately after mixing.
4-6 servings  

 2 large cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
10 radishes, peeled and thinly sliced
½ medium Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

In a medium serving bowl, combine cucumber, radish and onion slices.

In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder and salt and pepper.

Pour dressing over cucumber mixture. Stir gently to combine. Sprinkle with fresh dill. Serve immediately.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

Zucchini Au Gratin
Zucchini Au Gratin

Zucchini Au Gratin
This dish takes me back to when I was a kid growing up in Grand Haven, Mich. Every weekend, someone on the block would host a backyard get-together for a handful of families. The parents would hang out and drink Sangria while the kids would run around between backyards. There were two side dishes my mom used to make often and Zucchini Au Gratin was one of them. The dish is easy to prepare and a great way to use up an abundance of summer squash. In my version, I add an Italian flare with flavored bread crumbs and Italian parsley. Serve it hot and bubbly out of the oven or at room temperature after it has time to congeal.
6 servings

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 medium zucchini and/or yellow squash cut into ¼ inch thick rounds
1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Heat oven to 350 F. In the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish, pour olive oil. Layer zucchini, mozzarella, grated cheese, parsley and salt. Repeat layers.

Top casserole with bread crumbs and drizzle with butter. Bake for 1 hour or until hot and bubbly.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

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