Now is a great time for Summer recipes made up of vegetables – light and delicious. Having a vegetable garden means that you can make wonderful fresh fare for you and your family. That’s what growing your own is for, right?
Summer Recipe #1: Roasted Stuffed Vegetables
There’s some great vegetables out there that are even greater when you stuff them full of flavor! This stuffing can be used with Bell Peppers, Poblano Peppers, Squash, Zucchini, Eggplant, and more!
These are great to prepare ahead of time and just pop into the oven to warm up!
- Rice – long grain white like jasmine or basmati, brown, or yellow; or quinoa, your preference – cooked by directions on package (I like to add salt and olive oil to the water to keep it from sticking to the pot and to help cook it thoroughly).
- 1 Medium onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper (any color), thin sliced then chopped
- OPTIONAL: jalapeno pepper, sliced into thin rings, if you want some spice (leave the seeds for even more spice)
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- small can of tomato paste, or half a can of diced tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp olive, grapeseed, or avocado oil – plus some extra to drizzle
- 1 lb meat or meat substitution of your choice, cooked and shredded or crumbled
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Shredded cheese topping (optional)
- Vegetables that you want to stuff: pick any or all of the following: tomatoes, bell peppers, poblanos, squash, zucchini, eggplant, butternut or other winter squash, and more!
- Large sautee pan
- Long baking dish, glass or metal, with higher sides that will fit your veggies, like a casserole dish (or multiple if you’re making a lot)
- spatula or scoopula (aka spoonula), large table spoon, and tongs
Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Add oil to sautee pan, and heat to medium. Add onions and garlic, use spatula or scoopula to stir and sautee until onions begin to become transparent. Add bell peppers (and optional jalapenos), stir in, then cover and then let them sit to brown their edges (check them after about 5 minutes). Stir.
Add your cooked meat, spices, tomato paste or diced tomatoes, and if it’s a little dry in the pan add a touch of water a Tablespoon at a time until there’s some moisture in the pan OR you can put in your seeds scooped out of your zucchini or yellow squash or eggplant to add moisture (if you’re using those kinds of vegetables) because they have a high water content (other seeds won’t work!). Stir it around and let simmer on low for a bit. Monitor for moisture, don’t let it dry out completely.
While your meat and veg are simmering, prep your “veggie boats” that will be stuffed. Cut the tops off your round veggies like bell peppers, 8-ball zucchini, and tomatoes and scoop out seeds (keep the tops for roasting), cut your long veggies like zucchini/squash/eggplant/butternut squash/poblanos in half longways. Place them in the casserole dish(es) so they will stand up when stuffing.
Add rice to your meat and veg mix, a cup at a time, and stir to mix the spices, meat, and veg together. If your rice is still hot you can leave the heat on low. If not, then you might want to kick the heat up a little. If you need a touch more spices to cover the rice, add a bit of oil (tsp at a time) and spices to taste. Salt and pepper to taste.
Using a large spoon, scoop your meat & rice mixture into your veggie boats. Press it into the round veggies so that there’s not a lot of air pockets. You can mound it slightly on top. For the long veggies, scoop your mixture and flip the spoon over to make a mound over the de-seeded area of the veggie. Place tops on your round veggies if you wish so that flavor will roast into your dish. Drizzle lightly with a little more oil.
Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes (check at 10 minutes) and look for your veggie boats to begin wilting a bit. Remove from oven, and sprinkle shredded cheese on top to melt. Cover with foil and allow to sit for another 5 minutes or so, and serve with tongs.
Great with sliced avocado, sour cream, tomatillo salsa, and/or pico de gallo on the side. Enjoy!
If you are prepping these ahead of time, stop and refrigerate them before you drizzle with oil and put into the oven. Cover and put in fridge. When you pull it out, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees if cold/15 minutes if room temperature, then remove the foil, put the heat up to 400 degrees, and roast for another 10 minutes or so.
Summer Recipes #2: Avocado Cream Sauce
Avocado cream sauce is delicious, and refreshing, and is especially good to accompany spicy foods. Also great on vegetables, salads, and more!
- Fresh, soft avocadoes (I prefer Haas, but whatever is growing and ripe is just fine! 1 large avocadoes or 3 small Haas – pitted and scooped out of skin into a bowl
- 16 oz sour cream
- lemon juice and/or lime juice, to taste (1 fruit’s worth of juice, in a cup)
- 1 tomatillo, top removed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh cilantro, diced finely (optional)
Place your avocadoes into a food processor (or you can use a bowl and a potato masher then a whisk). Add about 3/4 of the sour cream to the avocado, and about half the citrus juice. Pulse your food processor to mix lightly. Add salt and pepper, and your optional cilantro and tomatillo if you wish, and a dash more citrus juice, and then mix thoroughly until it’s creamy.
If your tomatillo made it a little watery, add the rest of the sour cream (and if you have more avocado, you can add it too) to even out the texture. Blend until smooth. If you want it more tangy, add a bit more lemon/lime juice.
Tasting is important through this process to get a flavor that you love, so don’t be shy! Use the sauce on tacos, burritos, salads, as a veggie tip, on your stuffed veggies (recipe above), on skirt steaks (in place of chimichurri if you wish), and pretty much on anything you want that flavor!
Summer Recipes #3: Cucumber Tomato Salad
Summertime screams for hydrating veggies, and cucumbers and tomatoes totally fit that bill! In fact, cucumbers are one of the most hydrating veggies that we can get, so make sure you use them in your summertime snacking.
This recipe has some southern roots – tangy vinegar, italian seasoning, garlic and onion. It’s a staple at many Summer potlucks and luncheons to help wrangle our Florida heat. Let’s get started!
- 1-2 Cucumbers (depending on size) – for English variety leave the skin on, for other varieties, peel them as directed below.
- 2 medium or 1 pint grape/cherry Tomatoes – what you have on hand is fine cut into chunks, or get some grape or cherry tomatoes that you like.
- 1 medium Onion – your favorite color/flavor, sliced thinly (the red onion is popular for the color contrast).
- For the dressing:
- 1/2 C Olive Oil
- 1/4 C balsalmic or apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice (use the leftover from the above recipe if you have any!)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp italian seasoning
- 1 medium/large clove minced garlic or 1/2 tsp powdered garlic
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp cracked pepper
Cut your tomatoes into large chunks, or cut your grape/cherry tomatoes in half. Add to large bowl.
For English Cucumbers, cut off the ends, then cut into approximately 1/4″ rings, and slice the rings in half. For other cucumbers, cut off the ends, then peel strips of skin off the cucumber so that it has “stripes” (a decorative effect), then slice into 1/4″ rings, and slice the rings in half. Add to bowl.
Thinly slice the onion and add to the bowl. Toss lightly to mix.
Combine the dressing ingredients into a dressing or mason jar and shake to combine.
Serving your salad immediately? Pour your dressing over the vegetables, toss to coat, and serve.
Prepping ahead for another meal? Pour half of the dressing over the vegetables, toss to coat, and reserve the remainder to pour over and toss right before serving.
Now that we’re getting back to some socializing here in Florida, your Summer is looking up! Share the love with these fresh delicious Summer Recipes that use ingredients from your garden for bold and refreshing flavors!
Until next time, Keep Growing!