Keeping it fresh in the kitchen is as easy a turning on the burner, broiler or grill.
Using what vegetables are in season also chops the food budget. Shoppers should check supermarket advertisements for area or local offerings on produce. Some supermarkets have signs in the produce departments stating where the vegetables and fruits are grown. Farmers’ markets are another great place to shop to keep it fresh.
When shopping farmers’ markets, be sure and ask if the seller grows his/her produce. If the seller does, shoppers usually get better prices and better quality produce.
Readers Myra Jones and Patti Moore offer some ways to put the veggies of summer to good use and not spend hours in the kitchen. Brenda Donahore and Terri Turan of Three Southern Belles catering in Wiggins share an easy squash casserole made with Turan’s homegrown squash and a easy blueberry salad with fresh blueberries.
Jones loves to broil and marinate summer vegetables.
“Broiled summer squash is easy,” Jones said. “It can either be green (zucchini) or yellow squash. Slice the squash across or diagonally and spread with light mayonnaise. Then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and seasoned salt.”
Jones then puts the seasoned squash on a heavy-duty baking pan or broiler pan and pops it under the broiler until brown and bubbly on top.
She also likes to marinate summer vegetables.
“I blanche some of them just enough to set their color and then add raw crunchy items,” Jones said. To blanche, use what you have or like -- but I use these: carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, yellow and green squash, all in bite-sized pieces.
“Squash does better when quartered and then cut in chunks lengthwise instead of being sliced,” she said. “I bring water to a boil, throw in carrots until the water comes to a boil again, then add broccoli and cauliflower, and when water boils again add the squash. As soon as the water boils again I plunge into cool water, drain and put in large bowl.
To the blanched vegetables, she adds crunchy raw onion, celery and green or red peppers and a favorite Italian or French dressing. The vegetable mixture sits overnight in the refrigerator. Next day, she drains the vegetables and serves them cold.
“This is good for picnics, because you don’t have to worry about spoiling. Choice of vegetables is limited only by your imagination,” Jones said. “You can add olives or mushrooms -- whatever strikes your fancy. You can make as many servings as you like, but I try to use equal amounts of vegetables.”
Another of Jones’ favorites is gazpacho. With the cold soup, either fresh or canned tomatoes may be used, but fresh is always best.
Gazpacho, the easy way
Put about a quart of tomatoes, canned or ripe fresh ones in the blender. If using fresh, peel first.
Cut up and add a small, peeled cucumber, one onion, half of a green pepper (or to taste). Add garlic or garlic powder if desired.
Blend until everything is pureed. If not thick enough, add a few bread crumbs.
Add oil and vinegar to taste. For a full blender, I use about1/3 cup of olive oil and a scant1/4 cup of vinegar, but to taste. Some people like more and some like less oil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Chill and serve. Keeps several days in the fridge and is an easy way to get a serving of vegetables.
This is also good for picnics because you can serve it in a paper cup without a spoon. To be fancier, serve in bowls or mugs and garnish with some chopped vegetables and croutons.
-- Submitted by Myra Jones
q 2 1/2 pounds blueberries (can use grapes in place of blueberries)
q 1 8-ounce cream cheese, softened
q 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
q 1 8-ounce carton sour cream
q 1/2 cup chopped nuts
q 1/2 cup brown sugar
n Cream together cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar.
n Add sour cream. Mix in berries or grapes.
n Spread in 9-by-13-inch pan. Combine nuts and brown sugar and sprinkle on top.
n Chill 1 hour before serving.
-- Submitted by Terri Turan and Brenda Donahoe
“In response to your request for recipes using fresh vegetables, I offer this one for Butternut Squash Casserole,” said Moore. “It is high on my personal list of ‘comfort foods’ and a real favorite with my daughter.”
Butternut squash casserole
q 1 large butternut squash – cut in half, microwave until tender. Discard seeds and remove pulp
q 1 pound ground pork sausage, browned and drained
n Saute some onions, bell peppers and garlic in butter.
n Add to the squash pulp along with sausage.
n Add 1 cup sour cream,1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and stir until well mixed.
n Place in a 2-quart ovenproof dish and top with crushed crackers if desired.
n Bake at 350 until bubbling. You also can spoon the casserole back into the squash shells and bake.
n Serve with vine ripened tomatoes and sliced cucumbers.
-- Submitted by Patti Moore
“Anything with cheese and butter on it has to been good,” said Donahoe, talking about the fresh squash casserole.
q 1 pound white and yellow squash
q 1 onion, diced
q 1/2 stick oleo
q 1/2 cup milk
q 1 cup cheese
q 12 saltine crackers
q 1 egg, beaten
n Place squash and onion in pan of water and cook until tender. Drain. Add salt and pepper to taste.
n Add oleo, milk, egg, cheese and crumbled crackers. Mix well and place into casserole dish. Dot top with butter.
n Bake at 350 degrees until casserole is bubbly.
– Submitted by Terri Turan and Brenda Donahoe
Can you help?
Martha Bond of Long Beach wants recipes from the shuttered French Connection restaurant in Biloxi, especially the rolled chicken breast wrapped in bacon and fire-grilled.
Louise Blanton of Gulfport wants a recipe for orange chicken like the dish that is served in Chinese restaurants.
Andrea Yeager, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send contributions or requests to Cook’s Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535-4567. If requesting a recipe, include the name or describe it.