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Fresh summer vegetable goodness

Kysha Harris | 8/22/2011, 9:40 a.m.
Did I miss something? Are we in April? Have we switched weather streams with the...
Fresh summer vegetable goodness

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Fresh summer vegetable goodness

photo

Fresh summer vegetable goodness

photo

Fresh summer vegetable goodness

photo

Fresh summer vegetable goodness

photo

Fresh summer vegetable goodness

photo

Fresh summer vegetable goodness

Did I miss something? Are we in April? Have we switched weather streams with the United Kingdom? I don't know, but my Wellies have taken up real estate next to my front door and my air conditioner is on hiatus (a good thing!).

Well, as promised from last week's column, I have two more recipes for you to try before the end of the summer. Great thing is that you can prepare and enjoy them both inside and out. They are vegetarian dishes, but you can add meat, chicken or seafood if you wish.

The first recipe, which I adore and is a great starter to a summer meal, is gazpacho. Lisa told me Doug is a big fan, so I decided to add it to the menu. It packs myriad vegetables into a bowl of crunchy perfection.

This is not a traditional gazpacho recipe that includes soaked bread for heft. Instead, I keep it light, crunchy and sweet with the addition of celery, cucumbers and sweet bell peppers and thin it out with low sodium vegetable juice.

There are no hard and fast rules to making this dish except to taste as you go and add more or less of the ingredients to your liking. With the exception of tomato, onion and garlic, you will put the same amounts of the vegetables in the base as you will of the diced vegetables. You will need a food processor or a blender, a good sharp knife and some time.

Ingredients for the puree/base:

  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 hothouse cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
  • 3 cups low sodium tomato or vegetable juice, more if needed
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar (champagne, sherry or red, white or rice wine)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 hothouse cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 medium red onion, diced (more if desired)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • A few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 chopped ripe avocado (optional) for serving

Add diced veggies to puree, salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Serve chilled with chopped avocado and/or steamed shrimp or poached chicken.

The second recipe you must try is quick grilled salsa. If you have made salsa before, simply take its basic components-tomato, onion, jalapeno-coat them in a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and put them on a hot grill (or under the broiler on a sheet pan) until they get some color, if not slightly charred.

Seed the jalapeno (to control heat, if desired) and add all to a food processor with fresh limejuice, salt, pepper, cilantro and garlic. Blend to desired texture, taste and re-season. Place in a serving bowl, cover and let chill in the refrigerator until ready for use.

Use this grilled salsa recipe on its own with chips and beer or as a marinade or condiment for fish, poultry or meat. As you become more comfortable with this technique, you can substitute other chilies (dried or fresh), vegetables (tomatillos for salsa verde) and even fruit. Grilled pineapple salsa sounds divine!

Enjoy, get eating and thanks for reading!

Follow me on Twitter @SCHOPgirl. Questions at dinnertime? Chat with me at AskSCHOP, Monday through Friday, 6-8 p.m.

Kysha Harris is owner of SCHOP! which is available for weekly service or for home entertaining. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Email kysha@iSCHOP.com.