Summer is here, and although we are still bundled up most mornings, one reminder we have of the warming weather is the increased variety of fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ markets. Strawberries, asparagus, zucchini, fava beans, stone fruit, and cucumbers have appeared.
If you’re like most people, however, shopping for vegetables is a lot easier than figuring out what to do with them once you get home. June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable month and a great opportunity to take advantage of summer’s healthy bounty. Below are a couple of quick recipes to help you use up those veggies which have been pushed to the back of the fridge or have piled up in your bag during a weekly trip to the farmers’ market.
Zucchini Soup with Tarragon
1 small onion diced
1 rib of celery diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or butter
4 medium sized zucchini diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
¼ cup heavy cream (optional)
1 tablespoon crème fraiche (optional)
4 cups either water, chicken or vegetable stock.
Sweat onions and celery in butter or oil and a pinch of salt for five minutes. Add zucchini and two more pinches of salt. Sweat vegetables on low heat for 15-20 minutes or until they are completely soft (do not allow vegetables to brown). Add stock and bring to boil. The liquid should just barely cover vegetables.
Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Strain and reserve the liquid. Add the vegetables to a blender (hand blenders also work great) along with the cream. Puree and slowly add reserved liquid and half of the tarragon until you have something close to the consistency of heavy cream. Salt to taste, reheat and serve with a garnish of the remaining tarragon and a teaspoon of crème fraiche. Serve with a nice piece of bread and enjoy.
Cucumber and Fennel Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 medium cucumbers peeled.
1 large bulb fennel (white part only)
1 small red onion cut in half (optional)
Slice above ingredients as thin as you can with your knife. You can also use a mandoline which cuts quickly and uniformly and are found at most kitchen gadget stores.
1 Tablespoon White balsamic vinegar
1 Teaspoon Mustard
Pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons Olive oil
Mix mustard, salt and vinegar in a bowl with a whisk for thirty seconds. Continue whisking and slowly drizzle oil into the bowl. Taste the dressing and if it is too acidic or strong for your taste, add 1 more teaspoon of oil.
Toss vegetables and vinaigrette and set aside for five minutes. Grind black pepper on top and serve.
Simon Harris is the owner of Portland-based catering company Zuppa (“zuppa” means soup in Italian). Zuppa offers catered breakfast and lunches and sells at local farmers’ markets.