The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 29, 2005

Features

Garden-fresh produce provides the ingredients for summertime meals

Summertime meals can be casual or fancy, but they carry with them a celebratory feeling that meals at other times of year just don't match. Whether you are spreading a picnic blanket on the sand or setting a table on the patio, there is a special flavor to the repast. Picnicking is more a state of mind than a meal.
My favorite way to feature the home-grown, garden-fresh tomatoes that will soon be plentiful is by preparing an Italian bread and tomato salad called Panzanella. Other national cuisines have adopted and adapted this excellent dish.

 

Panzanella

6 thick slices Italian bread, crusts removed and cut into medium-sized cubes
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes — then turn oven to 400 for 5 minutes.
Remove and cool.
Mix: 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
4 cloves minced garlic
salt, pepper to taste
Add 1/2 cup olive oil
4-6 tomatoes, cut into cubes
4 ounces crumbled soft goat cheese
1/4 cup thinly-sliced basil
3 cups mesclun or any type of garden lettuce
enough of the salad dressing to coat
Toss salad about 30 minutes before serving.
I like it the next day too, but it does get soggy.

Another dish that is always popular with family and guests is my Mango and Black Bean salad. Using canned black beans is perfectly acceptable if you don't care to take the time to cook the dried variety. The organic canned black beans are much firmer than those that are conventionally raised and therefore preferable. Be sure to drain and rinse them well. Frozen mango slices, available at Trader Joe's, can be substituted for the fresh fruit. Although they are not quite so good, it certainly makes preparation time quicker. My husband complains vociferously when I put cilantro in anything so in the name of keeping peace, I substitute oregano. However, if you are cooking for people who appreciate cilantro's unusual flavor, this is the perfect dish to showcase it.

 

Black Bean and Mango Salad

serves about 6

2 cans (16 oz. each) drained and rinsed organic black beans
(or 1 1/2 cups dried beans, cooked and drained)
2 mangos, peeled and diced into 1/2" pieces (or 2 cups frozen, diced mangos)
1 cup diced tomato
2 yellow, orange or green peppers, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/3 cup chopped or finely-minced red onion
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. each ground cumin, salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or 1 Tbs. dried oregano)

Combine first 6 vegetables and fruits in large bowl. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over bean mixture tossing to coat well. Let stand at least one hour before serving.

There are certain dishes that I prepare only during the fleeting weeks of summer. Tabbouleh, the popular Middle-Eastern dish based on bulgur wheat is one example. It is a perfect entrée, salad or side dish for a picnic or a porch supper. I like the contrasts in color and textures. This is a good time to highlight the fresh herbs that are growing in your garden.

 

Tabbouleh

1 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups boiling, salted water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 cup finely minced garden-fresh herbs (basil, mint, dill, parsley or a combination)
1/2 cup chopped red onion or scallions
1 cup peeled, seeded, diced cucumber
1/2 to 1 pound cooked, shelled and deveined shrimp, diced
1 tsp. salt or to taste
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Bring water to a boil; stir in bulgur. Remove from heat; cover, andand let sit for 30 minutes or longer. If there's extra liquid at this point, drain it off. Stir in remaining ingredients. Chill several hours or overnight. Serve the bulgursalad on lettuce leaves.
Onion shortcake is one of my all-time favorite recipes and I admit that I don't reserve it for summertime only. Children invariably like it as much as adults do. Because it is the size of a casserole, it isn't the sort of dish you would bring on a hike, or pack for the beach, but in a foil pan, it is easy to serve outside as long as you don't have to travel far.

 

Onion Shortcake

1 large Vidalia or another kind of sweet onion
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 box corn muffin mix (approximately 8 ounces)
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup milk
1 small can cream-style corn (approximately 8 ounces)
1 small can corn kernels, drained, or one cup frozen corn kernels (no need to
thaw or cook)
few drops Tabasco
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. poppy seed
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese, divided

Slice onions into rings and saute slowly in the butter. Set aside.
Combine next 6 ingredients and pour batter into greased 8- or 9-inch square pan.
Add sour cream, poppy seed and 1/2 cup grated Cheddar to the onion mixture. Spread over batter. Sprinkle top with the remaining 1/2 cup grated cheese.
Bake at 425 for 30 minutes. Cut into squares.

Take advantage of these long, daylight hours. Pack up a picnic soon, incorporating any or all of these dishes. Add beverages, fruit and cookies and have fun!

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito