What’s your favorite way to enjoy the August harvest? The freshest produce of the season often requires little cooking. This week we’ve enjoyed our vegetables with an assortment of toppings and accompaniments that are fast and easy to prepare. Here are some suggestions to enhance your plate!
Pico de Gallo
Salso Fresca is the ubiquitous favorite that is even better when you chop it up yourself. Try a variety of colorful tomatoes.
Chop equal amounts of tomato, green pepper and onion (I like red onion). Mince jalapeno to taste, about 1/2 pepper for 1 cup of the mix. Add salt, a squeeze of lime juice and chopped cilantro. Stir. Adjust to taste. Serve with chips or along side your main dish.
A Word about Cilantro: Many people do not like cilantro, they taste it as soapy. I’ve found it can add a delicate touch. Consider trying a light amount to enhance the flavors of your other ingredients and avoid the supermarket variety in favor of a tender garden fresh bunch.
You can customize this popular protein-rich accompaniment with your favorite additions.
Start with a can of chick peas, drained, and 1 Tablespoon tahini (packaged or 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds ground to a paste with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.) Mash together or whirl around in a food processor with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil plus 1 clove of crushed garlic, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Then you can add your favorite blend-ins. I like roasted garlic and toasted pine nuts. Chopped grilled peppers or a mixed assortment of whatever is in the garden turn it into a meal.
Green Goddess Dressing
Unleash your inner goddess with a handful of fresh garden herbs and the lush texture of this classic dressing. The original twentieth century recipe included tarragon however you can harvest whatever herbs are in your garden.
I used herb scissors to shred 2 Tablespoons each basil, chives, cilantro and parsley, then put it in the food processor with a clove of garlic, a 1/2 cup each mayonnaise and sour cream, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and ground pepper. There are endless variations and substitutions — try avocado and a drip of honey instead of mayonnaise, plain yogurt in place of sour cream. Toss a spoonful with garden salad, use it as veggie dip or spread it on a sandwich.
This fruit makes a tangy topping. I became very fond of green sauce during my Spring trip to New Mexico. We planted some tomatillos when we returned home.
Remove the husk and grill the tomatillos on all sides, about 20 minutes. Cool and chop fine with jalapeno pepper, seeds and stem removed, about 1 pepper to 2 cups tomatillos. Add fresh chopped cilantro and lime juice, 1/2 cup each or to taste, and salt. It’s an excellent complement to Mexican food. Try it on a fish taco.
Remember, it’s still summer for another month. Fresh food and casual dining are at their peak. Rather than tearing back that plastic wrapper, head out into the garden or farmer’s market and Have it your way!
Photos by Claire Mauro