When the garden or the market offers up corn, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and peppers, try these creative ways to bring that seasonal bounty to the table. Here are 20 fresh recipes for these five vegetables:
Salad: Quinoa salad with grilled corn, tomatoes and cilantro
Cook 1 cup quinoa, cool and pat dry. Toss with kernels from 2 ears of grilled corn, 2 cups chopped tomatoes, 1 chopped serrano pepper and 3/4 cup chopped green onion. Make a vinaigrette with 3 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 minced garlic clove and 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cumin to dress the salad. Just before serving, fold in 1 1/2 cups chopped cilantro.
Appetizer: Grilled corn with tequila-lime butter
Beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 3/4 teaspoon minced jalapeño, 1 teaspoon each lime zest, lime juice and tequila, 1 tablespoon minced cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Form it into a log and chill until solid. Soak 8 ears of corn in their husks, then grill over a medium fire until golden and tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Husk the corn and pass the butter at the table.
Pasta: Sweet corn and shrimp "risotto"
Sauté 3/4 cup diced Spanish chorizo in 1 tablespoon butter, then add 1/2 cup each chopped green onion and red bell pepper; cook until tender. Add 4 cups diced zucchini and shelled shrimp. Add cup 1/2 white wine and reduce to a syrup. Add 5 cups corn kernels and then add 1 cup shrimp stock 1/2 cup at a time, finishing with 1/4 cup heavy cream and 3 tablespoons slivered basil.
Main dish: Green chile, corn and zucchini frittata
Cook 1 chopped zucchini, 1/4 cup chopped green onions and 1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped peeled green chile in 2 tablespoons butter. Add 1 cup corn kernels. Beat 6 eggs and stir in the vegetable mixture and roughly 1/3 cup grated Monterey Jack. Return the mixture to the skillet and cook over low heat until it begins to set. Scatter over another 1/3 cup cheese and broil until the top is puffed and brown.
Salad: Lentil salad with tomatoes, zucchini and arugula
Salt 1/4 pound diced zucchini and drain for 30 minutes. Cook 1 cup lentils until tender, then drain and pat dry. Rinse the zucchini and pat dry and add to the lentils along with 3 tablespoons minced chives, 1 minced clove garlic and 1/2 pound halved cherry tomatoes. Dress with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Fold in 1/2 cup torn arugula leaves and 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts just before serving.
Appetizer: Crostini with roasted tomatoes and goat cheese
Slice 4 pounds plum tomatoes in half lengthwise and place in a single layer in a baking dish with whole peeled cloves from a full head of garlic. Pour over olive oil to halfway up the pan and roast at 300 degrees until the tomatoes are golden on top, at least 2 hours. Smear fresh goat cheese on a toasted baguette slice and mash a roasted tomato on top.
Pasta: Rice salad with shrimp and arugula
Really? You need a recipe for pasta with tomatoes? How about this: Cook 2 cups Arborio rice, then drain and pat dry. While warm, dress with 3 tablespoons each olive oil and lemon juice and add 1/2 pound cooked small shrimp, 1/4 cup minced red onion, 1 cup diced tomato and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar. Fold in 1 1/2 cups torn arugula and 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts just before serving.
Main dish: Swordfish with tomatoes and fennel
Sauté 4 swordfish steaks with 1 clove thinly sliced garlic and 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds in 3 tablespoons olive oil, about 5 minutes per side. Add 1/2 cup white wine and 1 pound whole cherry tomatoes, cover and cook until the fish is done. Uncover, transfer the fish to a platter and raise the heat to high. Cook until the juices have reduced. Add 2 tablespoons slivered basil, spoon over the fish and serve.
Salad: Woven zucchini with fresh goat cheese
Cut 4 zucchini in very thin lengthwise strips. Salt generously and set aside to soften. Rinse and pat dry. Whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 garlic clove, minced, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Cut 12 cherry tomatoes in half. Brush the zucchini with the dressing, then weave 3 strips crosswise and 3 strips lengthwise to make a raft. Top each raft with a dollop of fresh goat cheese and season with olive oil and slivered basil.
Appetizer: Zucchini fritters
Shred 1 pound zucchini, salt and set aside to drain. Rinse and squeeze thoroughly dry with your hands. Combine with 1 teaspoon each cumin and ground coriander seeds, a chopped green onion and 3/4 teaspoon minced jalapeño. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour and a beaten egg. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoon mounds into hot olive oil and fry until brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve with Greek-style yogurt.
Pasta: Free-form zucchini lasagna with lemon-thyme cream
Slice 1 pound zucchini lengthwise; grill on both sides. Cook 1/2 cup diced onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil, add 3 tablespoons white wine, 1 minced clove garlic and 1/4 teaspoon thyme; add the zucchini and remove from the heat. Heat 1 cup cream with thyme sprigs, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Lightly coat a cooked pasta square with the cream and place it on a plate. Top with ricotta and a few zucchini strips, then another creamy pasta square. Dust with more Parmesan and serve.
Main dish: Zucchini tian
Cook a sliced onion in 3 tablespoons olive oil with a minced garlic clove. Arrange in an oiled baking dish. Arrange 2 zucchini cut into rounds in overlapping rows on top of the onions. Scatter 20 quartered cherry tomatoes and 3 tablespoons chopped pitted black olives on top. Crumble over 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees until the zucchini has softened and the mixture is dry, about 1 1/2 hours.
Salad: Silken eggplant salad
Remove the stems from 2 pounds Asian eggplants and steam the eggplants until tender. Cool to room temperature. Whisk together 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cut the eggplant into bite-sized pieces and toss with enough dressing to coat lightly. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper and serve.
Appetizer: Grilled eggplant with walnut-cilantro pesto
Combine 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1/2 cup olive oil; set aside. Purée 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1 cup walnuts to a paste. Add 1 teaspoon paprika, then slowly beat in 3/4 cup olive oil. Stir in 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Slice 1 1/2 pounds eggplant, brush with the flavored oil and grill until tender. Arrange on a platter and dress with the walnut mixture.
Pasta: Fusilli with spicy eggplant
Dice an eggplant, salt and drain for at least 1 hour. Rinse and pat dry. Cook 1 cup diced onion, 4 sliced garlic cloves and 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes in 1/4 cup olive oil. Add 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes, 3 tablespoons capers and 1/2 cup white wine. Cook 1 pound fusilli and add to the skillet along with 1/2 cup pasta water and slivered basil and cook briefly. Serve with sliced or grated Ricotta salata. (See full recipe below.)
Main dish: Eggplant stuffed with lamb and pine nuts
Cut 3 eggplants in half lengthwise and remove and chop the flesh. Cook 1 chopped onion and 2 tablespoons minced garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil. Add 3/4 pound lamb stew meat, then the eggplant. Add 1 cup crushed tomatoes, 1/4 cup pine nuts and 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Spread 1 sliced onion and 2 1/3 cups crushed tomatoes in an oiled baking dish. Arrange the eggplant shells in the dish and spoon in the filling. Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Dust with grated Pecorino and bake until browned.
Salad: Quick pickled peppers
Cut a slit in each of 3/4 pound of shishito peppers. Simmer 2 1/2 cups rice vinegar with 3 lightly smashed garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, 1 small onion sliced thin and 2 small dried chiles. Blanch the shishito peppers briefly, pat dry and put in a container. Cover with the vinegar mixture and let stand 8 hours.
Appetizer: Roasted peppers stuffed with goat cheese
Stir together 1 cup ricotta, 2 tablespoons chopped capers, 1 tablespoon olive oil, a pinch of crushed red pepper, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and 1 tablespoon minced chives. Cut roasted and peeled red and yellow peppers into strips about 2 inches wide. Place a scant tablespoon of ricotta filling at one end of the pepper and roll it up end to end, pressing gently to keep everything together. Drizzle lightly with more olive oil and serve.
Pasta: Spaghetti with wilted peppers
Cut 1 onion and 4 slices of prosciutto into 1/4-inch strips and cook in 3 tablespoons olive oil. Cut 6 bell peppers into strips and add them. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are quite limp, about 45 minutes. Add 3 thinly sliced cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and continue cooking while 1 pound of spaghetti is boiling. Add the cooked spaghetti to the skillet and mix well. Finish with grated Pecorino. (See full recipe below.)
Main dish: Peperonata
Cook 1 sliced onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes, 5 chopped, roasted, peeled and seeded bell peppers and 3/4 cup red wine, and cover and cook until tender. Purée 1/2 chopped jalapeño and 2 garlic cloves, add 1 cup chopped basil leaves and 1/4 cup chopped parsley, and then 3 tablespoons olive oil to make a loose paste. Stir the sauce into the peppers and heat through.