Every year around this time, I feel astonished when all the work of the garden — the planning, planting, watering and weeding — is finally worth it.
The harvest is always a special event, but this year during a pandemic, it holds even more importance for me and so many other gardeners. It’s difficult to put into words but for me, it’s something like this: The reliability of the garden, of the harvest, in a time of such intense unreliability feels profound.
Whether you grow your own food, buy it at a farmer’s market or a supermarket, this is a splendid time of year for fresh vegetables. Here are a few of my latest favorite recipes.
Corn, Tomato and Basil Tart
Summer in a pie. Use a premade grocery store crust or make your own and fill with a corn and basil mixture topped with slices of ripe summer tomato. The tart can be made in a little over an hour. Serve with a salad and it’s the perfect summer dinner.
Serves 4 to 6.
Premade, store-bought pastry (or, see the recipe for homemade pastry below)
- 1 1/2 packed cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced
- 3 ears corn
- 2 eggs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 cup heavy cream or milk
- 3 to 4 ripe tomatoes, several varieties if possible, thinly sliced
- Roll out the pastry and tuck into a 9-inch pie plate or 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Or use a pre-made 8 or 9-inch pastry.
- Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with 2 tablespoons of the grated cheese, half the basil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Strip the husk and silks off the corn. Place in a large bowl and, using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cobs. (You can save the cobs to make corn stock using this recipe.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add half the shucked corn, the remaining Parmesan cheese, remaining basil, salt, pepper, sour cream and cream. Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell. Layer the tomato slices on top, overlapping slightly.
- Bake on the middle shelf for 30 minutes. Remove and add the remaining corn kernels. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tart is golden brown, slightly puffed and doesn’t appear wet. Remove and let cool about 5 minutes before cutting into slices.
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 sticks butter
- About 1/3 cup ice cold water
- Make the pastry: In a food processor, blend the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse about 15 times, until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add a bit of water, a few drops at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl and come together. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 24 hours.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently place in a 9-inch French tart pan with a removable bottom or a pie plate. Trim the edges and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Cold (Or Hot) Zucchini Soup With Basil And Mint
Refreshing, comforting and filling, this soup uses all the garden and farmers market ingredients that seem to be in ample supply this time of year. Basil and mint are in the same family (Lamiaceae) and complement each other beautifully in this soup.
If you plan on serving the soup chilled, place in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 hours.
Serves 4 to 6.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds zucchini and/or summer squash, ends trimmed, and chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- Toppings: About 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, sour cream or crème fraîche and 2 tablespoons chopped basil and mint
- In a large pot heat the oil over low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring 10 minutes. Add the zucchini, salt, pepper, basil and mint and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover and cook about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the zucchini is totally tender.
- Remove from the heat and cool 5 minutes. Blend using a blender, food processor or hand held immersion blender. Place the pureed soup back into the pot and taste for seasoning. Chill for several hours or serve hot.
- To serve: Top each bowl with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of basil and mint.
Miso Corn Sauté
This is a recipe so simple that it seems to defy the depth of flavor. Melt a touch of butter, add chopped ginger, scallions and miso paste and stir until thickened. Add fresh kernels of corn cut from two ears of corn and sauté about 3 minutes. That’s it.
Serve with grilled fish, meat or chicken. Scatter on top of steamed vegetables. Sprinkle it on top of ramen and soups, rice dishes or stir fried vegetables.
Serves 2 to 3.
- 2 ears fresh corn
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 scallion, finely chopped, white and green sections
- 1 tablespoon white or light miso paste
- Strip the husks and silk off the corn. Hold corn up in a large bowl, narrow tip up, and, using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the cob.
- In a medium skillet, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the ginger and half the scallions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the miso paste and using a spoon, stir together to create a smooth paste. Cook 2 minutes. Add the corn and stir to coat all the kernels; cook 2 minutes. Serve hot sprinkled with the remaining scallion.
Spiced Zucchini And Corn Relish
This simple relish is spiced with many flavors from India — turmeric, as well as fennel, mustard and cumin seeds. Chopped zucchini, onion, peppers, chilis and fresh corn shucked off the cob are “pickled” in a mixture of apple cider vinegar flavored with the spices, salt and sugar.
The relish only needs to sit a few hours before it can be spooned onto cheese sandwiches, burgers, grilled fish, chicken or steak, curries or served with a cheese platter.
Makes about 3 1/2 cups.
- 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar, 5% acidity
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 ½ pounds zucchini or summer squash, ends trimmed and chopped
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
- 1 cup sweet red or green pepper, chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chili pepper, with or without seeds (depending on how spicy you like it), or about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 2 cups corn kernels, from 2 large ears of corn
- In a non-reactive saucepan, mix the vinegar, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Add the mustard, fennel and cumin seeds and the turmeric and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the chopped zucchini, onions, sweet pepper and chili pepper, and simmer 10 minutes, uncovered, over moderate heat. Remove from the heat and add the corn. Let cool.
- Place in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator for about a week. Or place in clean canning jars and process for 10 minutes.
Other Ideas For Summer Vegetables:
- 4 Ways To Get Creative With Summer Corn
- Take Advantage Of Corn Season With 3 Flavorful Recipes
- Recipes To Make The Most Of Summer Tomatoes
- From Peppers To Zucchini, 3 Recipes For Stuffing Late-Summer Produce
- Soup, Pasta And Tartine: How To Properly Take Advantage Of Tomato Season
- How To Make The Most Of Your Summer Garden Produce
- Grilling Pizza With Kathy Gunst
- Canning 101: How To Preserve Your Summer Garden's Spoils Before They Spoil
This segment aired on August 19, 2020.