The summer garden is cranking out the vegetables and herbs, so here are a few ideas for cooking up the bounty. First up is a babka filled with pesto. I used the gluten-free chocolate babka recipe from the cookbook Baked to Perfection, omitting the sugar and replacing the chocolate filling with homemade basil pesto, making sure not to make it too oily. If you also have someone with celiac disease to feed, Katarina Cermelj’s recipes are worth your attention. This bread was fantastic with a salad for dinner, then toasted up for breakfast the next morning, smeared with fresh goat’s milk cheese. There are a lot of babka recipes out there, so choose one that works for the dietary requirements in your house, and fill it at will. I may try a sun-dried tomato filling next time.
Next are chard and potato tacos with a New Mexico chile sauce. The potatoes have all been volunteers this year, and I’ve dug about five pounds so far. Bonus. The tortillas came from a local restaurant where they start the process with giant bags of Oaxacan corn, so there is a bit of a challenge to make the filling live up to the expectations of such a flavorful and carefully crafted wrapper. I started with a saute of shallot, followed with the chopped chard stems, then the leaves, all seasoned with salt and pepper. The cooked potatoes got stirred in, and a bit of the chile sauce brought it all together in the pan before more was poured over the top along with a sprinkling of feta. I used this chile sauce recipe, and it is delicious. It also made enough to freeze a few containers for future use.
Finally, we have stuffed zucchini. As it turns out, the one zucchini plant I had survive and thrive is bred for the harvest of tiny fruit with the flowers attached, so these came from someone else’s garden. (Stay tuned for more True Confessions.) The filling is chopped shallot, zucchini innards (big seeds removed), cooked quinoa, grated pecorino cheese, Aleppo pepper, and a bit of nutmeg. The nutmeg idea came from Marian Morash who wrote a beautiful but now out of print cookbook for the PBS Victory Garden series. Grab a copy if you happen across one in a used book store. It’s fantastic.
I tossed the zucchini whole into the microwave for a couple of minutes to soften them up and make it easier to scoop out the middles, then the shallot and chopped zucchini got sauteed separately in a skillet and stirred together with everything else. Because the zucchini boats are a bit difficult to season on the outside, it’s OK to overseason the filling a bit. If it tastes a little too salty or piquante in the pan, it will work out nicely stuffed into a bland shell. I held out about half the quinoa, mixed it with some more grated cheese, and piled it on top for a little crunch. If you have leftover filling, pop it in the freezer for next time. About a half hour in the toaster oven at 350 (convection), a little marinara on top, and Bob’s your uncle. Home-grown Romano beans on the side.
Aren’t these gorgeous? The tomatoes are just beginning to come in, so I’m out early every morning trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to beat the catbirds to the ripening fruit. Sunrise Bumblebee is a new variety of tomato I tried this year and they are delivering on all counts. Easy to grow, strong plants, loads of fruit, and gorgeous flavor. I’d better go look at some recipes. Happy summer!