I teach cooking classes at a local coffee shop that has a cooking school inside. I love the classes and teaching is my thing. I was asked to teach a class using fresh vegetables and herbs that most people plant in their gardens. I focused on tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, oregano, basil and cucumbers. I also taught how to make a base for creamy salad dressings. I hope you’ll give these a try this summer when you harvest your crops.
Note* The first two recipes and the creamy dressing base recipe are from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine, issues 82 and 83
1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, any kind will work
3/4 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning mix or any dried herb combination you desire
Kosher salt and pepper
2 large egg whites
1 1/2- 2 pounds of zucchini
Pre-heat oven to 425. Spray 2 rimmed baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Cut the zucchini into sticks like regular french fries and set aside. In a large bowl mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, and seasonings. In a separate shallow bowl beat the egg whites. Dip the fries into the egg whites then toss in the breadcrumb mixture. Put on the pans in a single layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp, turning fries over once and rotating the pans in the oven.
Green and White Bean Salad with Tuna
3/4 pound of fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch lengths
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar- we used white Balsamic in the class
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 can (15.5 oz) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 small red onion, sliced into thin rings
1 can solid white Albacore tuna packed in water, drained and flaked
1/4 cup thinly sliced pepperoncini, about 9 (optional)
In a medium pot of salted, boiling water cook the green beans for 3 minutes until bright green, just until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking. Let all the water drain out. In a bowl add the vinegar, oil and salt and pepper and whisk until blended. Add in the beans, onions, tuna and pepperoncini rings. Toss to combine and serve.
Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
1/2 lb – orzo pasta, cooked al dente, drained but not rinsed
2 – cups cherry tomatoes
1 – small purple onion, chopped
2 – cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 – 4.5 oz can sliced black olives, drained or Kalamata, pitted
3 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, sliced into strips
3 Tbsp fresh oregano, pull the leaves off the stalks
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 – 6- 8 – oz container crumbled feta cheese
Optional: Add some grilled chicken breast strips for a heartier dish
Cook orzo according to package directions, drain and cool. Mix with a little olive oil to keep from sticking. In a large bowl add all the vegetables, the herbs and the pasta. Pour dressing over the salad and chill for 1 hour. Let salad come to room temperature. Add feta before serving.
*****Note:the dressing below makes about 8 ounces so do not use the whole amount of dressing at once. Use just enough to season the salad
Dressing: Courtesy Emeril @ FoodNetwork.com
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, optional*
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup olive oil
Mix all in a lidded jar and shake well. Pour over salad, a little at a time until well coated. Store the remaining in the jar up to one week or so.
Creamy Salad Dressing Base
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Coarse salt and pepper
Whisk all in a bowl then add in the desired mix-ins. We added in 2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp coarsely ground pepper for Peppercorn Parmesan dressing.
Ranch- 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves, 1 clove of garlic-crushed, a pinch of cayenne pepper
Blue Cheese-3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Dressings will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
Caprese Salad Plate
4 plum tomatoes
½ pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
½ cup or so of fresh basil leaves, washed and pat dry
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Slice tomatoes in ¼ inch thick slices as well as the cheese. Separate basil leaves from the stem. Layer the tomatoes and cheese in a circle around a serving platter.Tear or slice the basil into thin strips then scatter them over the tomatoes and cheese. Season with pepper then drizzle olive oil over the whole plate, be generous. Serve as a salad or on top of toasted slices of bread, crostini.