Can you believe we are already looking at the end of August? Where is the summer going? It seems like just days ago it was June and we were wondering what this summer may look like! The very cool and wet spring lead us all to believe that our summer crops would be less than bountiful. The farmers had a difficult time working their fields just to plant their crops, and then the over-abundance of rain sent the seeds swimming. And yet, here we are, a mere 10 weeks later, and just look at the glorious fields of fresh produce! Nature took over the process (as usual) and has given us a wonderful variety of fruits and veggies just ripe for the picking.
Living within the city limits, I don’t have room for a big garden, but I occasionally plant a few tomato and pepper seedlings as well as some herbs each spring. I just love watching my potted garden grow, and look forward to those first ripe tomatoes to put on my salad and burgers. There is nothing like the flavor of garden fresh veggies. Some people are lucky enough to have sufficient room for a big home garden (my in-laws always had a beautiful garden; from rhubarb in the spring to summer squashes and cukes later in the season). Late-summer is the time of year when crops start to produce an over-abundance of goodies on a day to day basis. It is a common sight to see road side stands offering fresh corn and zucchini… it seems to explode into a riot of green splendor all at once!
Many home gardeners lament about what to do with their sudden bounty, harvesting much more than their own families need; some are very generous and share with their friends and neighbors, while others do indeed set up those roadside stands. However I can come across fresh, home-grown produce, I will jump at the chance to enjoy the delicious flavor that cannot be matched by any grown far away and shipped here. The phrase “fresh is best” really takes on a bolder meaning when you can take something from the garden in the morning and have it on your table for dinner that night!
For those among us not lucky enough (or able to) have our own gardens (or have friends with gardens), all we need to do is look for the nearest Farmer’s Market to enjoy the freshest produce around. Here in Jamestown, we are lucky to have several different opportunities to visit Farmer’s Markets. I love to wander an open air market and simply inhale the intoxicating fragrance the produce and flowers surround me with. I can always find enough yummy stuff to fill a bag and create a meal to make many a mouth water! Speaking of making my mouth water, I’m about to do that to yours with the recipes that follow! Simply close your eyes and imagine the fragrance that will be coming from my kitchen in a matter of hours…
- 1 medium eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1 inch dice
- 1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
- 1 each yellow and red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1 inch dice
- 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1 inch dice
- 12 garlic cloves, halved
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 T fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper
- 2 C cherry or grape tomatoes
Combine eggplant, onion, peppers, zucchini and garlic in a large bowl. Add olive oil, thyme and a sprinkle of salt and pepper; toss to coat. Turn veggies onto a large baking sheet.
Place tray on rack on lowest position in preheated oven. Roast until veggies are golden brown on the bottom, about 20 minutes.
Remove pan from oven, stir in tomatoes and then continue roasting until tomatoes have started to release their juices (about 15 minutes more).
Serve hot, warm or cold, as a side or as an entrée!
Fresh Roasted Corn Salsa
- 2 ears of corn, unpeeled
- ½ small onion, diced fine
- 1 jalapeno, diced fine
- 1 tomato, diced fine
- ¼ C olive oil
- 1 T Balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Thoroughly soak corn in water for 10-15 minutes. Grill over medium heat until tender (about 15 minutes). Allow corn to cool, remove husk and cut kernels off cob.
In a large bowl, combine corn with all other ingredients, tossing to coat with olive oil and vinegar. Chill well; serve as a dip with tortilla chips or as a condiment with grilled chicken or fish.
To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.