Cooks’ Exchange: Farm-to-table recipes from your own backyard | Recipes, Food and Cooking Tips

Cooks’ Exchange: Farm-to-table recipes from your own backyard | Recipes, Food and Cooking Tips

How green is your favorite garden? Did you plant seeds to provide favorite seasonal herbs and delicious vegetables to grow within reach on any given day to prepare healthy and delicious summer recipes before the next season arrives in all of its autumn glory?

The very thought of it all found me reaching for “Savoring the Harvest,” a beautiful culmination with sights and flavors of neighborhood gardens and the Dane County Farmers Market captured and published in 1993 by author Irene Cash including exceptional colored photographs snapped by Victor Marsh. Stressing the importance of the “farm-to-table movement” of buying food locally creates a celebration of what local farmers provide throughout the seasons and Cash offers a wonderful book to celebrate it all.

Basque-Style Eggplant

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

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3 sweet peppers, cored, seeded and cut into ½-inch squares

3 cups tomatoes, cored, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon minced parsley

1 tablespoon minced basil

Dredge eggplant cubes in flour. In sauté pan, heat oil, add eggplant cubes and sauté until golden brown. Add peppers and sauté until soft, approximately 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, stir and cook for 3 additional minutes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt, parsley and basil. Cook with cover off until liquid has been reduced to desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sauteed Radishes with Sugar Snap Peas

1 pound sugar snap peas, strings removed

1½ cup radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced (about a bunch)

½ bunch green onions, thinly sliced, both white and green parts

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Place peas in a pan filled with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cook until peas are just done, approximately 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. Set aside.

In large saucepan, sauté radishes in olive oil until just soft. Add green onions and peas and toss while cooking over low heat, about 5 minutes. Add butter and dill; toss until butter is melted. Salt and pepper to taste.

Hungarian Cucumber Salad

2 large cucumbers, peeled

¼ cup white wine vinegar

Slice the cucumbers and red onion very thinly. Place in bowl and add salt. Mix well. Set aside for 2 hours.

Working in small batches, squeeze liquid out of the salted cucumber and place on paper towels to further dry. Combine sugar, vinegar, garlic powder and olive oil in glass bowl. Add cucumbers and mix together well. Set aside to marinate 2 hours or up to 6 hours. To serve, place in serving dish and sprinkle with paprika and pepper to taste.

Sweet Basil Pesto

2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves

²⁄³ cup extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup grated Pecorino cheese

Combine basil, garlic and walnuts into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture, running the food processor on a low speed until smooth. Add a couple of pinches of salt and pepper to taste. Add cheese, pulse until just incorporated into pesto.

Note: This recipe is perfect for preparing in large quantities. When basil is plentiful, buy it in bulk and make as much pesto as you can. It freezes nicely in plastic containers. Just add a thin layer of olive oil to the top of the pesto before you put it in the freezer. Pull it out in the winter and relive summer all over again!

Acorn Squash with Rosemary

1 acorn squash, sliced, seeded and cut into 4 wedges

2 teaspoons rosemary, chopped

¹⁄³ cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter, cut into thin pieces

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Mash rosemary, garlic and salt together until it has a paste-like consistency. Spread over fruit of the squash. Place in baking dish, peel side down. Roast in oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.

Sprinkle brown sugar over squash wedges. Dot with butter. Place back into oven and roast for 45 minutes or until squash can be easily poked through with a fork.

Stewed Zucchini and Summer Squash

3 small yellow summer squash

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon oregano, chopped

2 tablespoons basil, chopped

1 5.5-ounce can of spicy tomato juice

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.

Add zucchini and summer squash. Stir and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add tomato, oregano and basil. Stir well. Add tomato juice. Cover and cook at a simmer for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft and juice is absorbed and slightly evaporated. Garnish with oregano and basil if desired.

Shallots in Balsamic Reduction Sauce

¾ pound shallots, peeled and cleaned

1 teaspoon minced rosemary

In a sauté pan, heat olive oil. Add shallots and sauté until golden and beginning to soften. Mix vinegar and honey together well, then add to the shallots. Cook in medium heat for 5 minutes stirring continuously.

Add just enough chicken stock to pan to barely cover the shallots. Stir and cover the pan. Cook on low for 45 minutes, gradually adding stock as needed. When done, shallots should have a thick syrupy coating. Serve sprinkled with thyme and rosemary.

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at [email protected]

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