In St. Charles, we are very fortunate to have access to lots of fresh, locally-grown produce. Many in our area have beautiful vegetable gardens, a help to the family budget. For those of us who do not have green thumbs, we have our choice of farmers markets and roadside stands, and even chain grocery stores will sometimes stock local produce. Wherever you get your produce, this is a great time of year for it.
This can also pose a challenge in the kitchen. Maybe your neighbors have stopped by with a generous gift from their garden and you don’t know what to do with it all before it spoils. It can be intimidating when we feel as if the supply goes beyond our ability or imagination. Sometimes this is when the Internet can be a cook’s best friend. But beware -- a Google search for “vegetable recipes” returns 55,300,000 results so it’s important to go into this with a plan. What veggies are you using? Do you want a main dish or accompaniment? What is your preferred cooking method?
Roasting, grilling, and stir-frying vegetables are all great ways to use your fresh produce. Each provides an easy way to combine a variety of veggies in one dish while showcasing the flavors and colors that make fresh summer produce a great addition to your family’s menu. Try the following recipes and maybe they’ll become part of your go-to vegetable recipes.
Farmers Market Stir Fry (Serves 4)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil (you can use canola oil or peanut oil; olive oil is a personal preference)
- ½ lb. asparagus, cleaned and bias cut into 1” pieces (discard rough ends)
- 1 large red & 1 large yellow bell pepper, julienned
- 1 medium zucchini, bias sliced
- 2 Cups mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium sweet onion, sliced
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon water
- ¼ Cup soy sauce (gluten-free varieties available)
Heat olive oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add all ingredients from asparagus through garlic to the skillet. Stir-fry the vegetables by quickly moving them around the pan with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes (until the veggies are tender-crisp; careful not to burn the garlic). Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl using a fork small whisk to combine well. Push the veggies to the side of the pan. Add soy sauce to the pan, then quickly re-stir the cornstarch-water mixture and add it to the soy sauce. When the sauce begins to thicken, move the veggies back to the middle of the pan. Stir fry for another 1-2 minutes. Serve over white or brown cooked rice or rice noodles.
Roasted Balsamic Veggies (Serves 4)
- 2 Cups grape tomatoes
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled and sliced
- ½ lb. asparagus, cleaned and cut into thirds (discard rough ends)
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ½ Cup Olive Oil*
- ½ Cup balsamic vinegar Grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375˚. Combine first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Use your clean hands to gently combine all the vegetables. In a small bowl, combine the oil and vinegar. Pour over the vegetables in the bowl and gently combine. Pour the entire mixture into a jellyroll pan (or other large pan with four raised sides). Place pan of veggies in preheated oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the pan and use a spatula to turn the veggies. Return pan to the oven and roast for another 5-10 minutes. Place finished vegetables in a serving dish and sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. *This is a good recipe to try out flavor-infused olive oils (like basil, oregano, or rosemary), but be mindful of the flavor you choose when deciding whether or not to add the dried basil to the recipe.