My husband, Mike, is in charge of the vegetable garden. This year he decided to limit his efforts to several tomato plants and two kale plants.
A chipmunk ate one of the kale plants and, in a spurt of culinary zest, Mike broiled the remaining kale. While under the broiler, it caught on fire and, when removed from the oven, it spewed bits of blackened kale onto the kitchen walls, ceiling, and overhead
lights; then into the dining room (settling on the table, chairs, and window sills) and part of the living room. Who knew burning kale had so much energy? In Mike's defense, he was trying to recreate "kale chips", which I've made before and which taste so
much like potato chips I can't blame him for trying. But kale chips are baked, not broiled. So he got the cooking method wrong. Otherwise, it was perfect.
Meanwhile, I'm in charge of the herb garden, which is doing pretty well with basil, rosemary, lavender and mint. The cilantro is looking so pathetic that I've reverted to buying bunches of it at the market. There's also a small, but tasty, oregano plant,
and another herb I planted but can't remember what it is and the smell is offering no hints. Possibly tarragon, but it smells to mild for that. So it's our mystery herb.
I'm noticing that the neighbor's tomato plants are already producing nice big tomatoes, while Mike's are just now coming into bloom. It's true he started late.
But the markets (indoor and outdoor) are flowing with zucchini, summer (crookneck) squash, and tomatoes, and at this time of year I get a hankering for their flavors. So I bought what I wish was in our garden (going with ripe heirloom tomatoes to get as
close to garden fresh as possible).
Over the years, I've created several variations of the same basic squash dish, often tossing in Kalamata olives and Feta cheese. But
this year's version (sans the olives and Feta) wowed both of us in a way we haven't been wowed before. I'm writing it down so I won't forget.... and also to share a fabulous recipe for some of New England's most prolific summer veggies.
Ellen's Squash Party
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 large shallot, sliced thin
1 medium-large zucchini, sliced thin
1 medium-large summer (crookneck) squash, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 large tomato, diced
2 tbsp. fresh basil
2 tbsp. fresh rosemary
juice of 1 lemon
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and butter. Then add the shallot, squash, garlic and 1 tbsp. each of the fresh basil and rosemary. Sautee over medium heat until the squash just begins to brown (about 15 minutes).
Add the tomato and white wine and cook for about 5 minutes more. Remove the dish from the heat and toss in the remaining tablespoons of basil and rosemary. (By not heating the second batch of these herbs, the flavors are more pronounced in the final dish.)
Place on serving plates and squeeze about 1 tbsp. lemon juice on top of each. Then add about a tsp. of parmesan.
Interestingly, I didn't find the need to add salt or pepper. The lemon (which is new to my efforts this year) adds a lift to the dish that serves as a nice counterpoint to the olive oil and butter.
This works as a main entree for 2 people by serving it over brown rice; or it makes a lovely side dish for 4 mid-summer meals.
The results I got were really good restaurant quality. I love it when that happens.