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Summer Vegetable Coconut Curry

Summer Vegetable Coconut Curry

I often say that even if I became really poor, it’s unlikely I’d ever go hungry. Through all my various foodie friends, farmer connections, side food-related jobs and food blogger perks, my fridge these days has been endlessly stocked. My splurgeful trips to Whole Foods have been minimal. And my tummy has been full.

Unlike some of my recent grad friends (cue those who moved to NYC), I’ve managed to avoid a diet of peanut butter and canned beans. (Although, don’t think those items don’t show up quite often too. I eat plenty of PB from a jar, primarily by choice, and chickpeas too. Being a vegetarian does have its naturally affordable qualities.)

When I do head to the store these days, often I walk out with nothing other than figs and Greek yogurt. As a hustling journalist in a dying field, and a freelancer of many trades, this scenario seems a bit out of place. And it would be if it weren’t for the abundance of healthy veggies that have graced my life this summer, free of charge. For this I feel fortunate.

Summer veggies.

At this point, I honestly have more vegetables sitting around than I can eat. Some of you fellow gardeners I’m sure can relate.

I often get stuck eating a lot of simple salads, which are great, but sometimes recipes like this are in need. It’s amazing how a simple coconut curry can make you appreciate a bowl of vegetables that much more.

I contemplated putting this over rice, but I honestly wanted to just spoon its brothiness as is, and call the large bowl of veggies a meal. So that’s what I did. However, I ended up pouring it over pasta the following day, which was quite nice too. I’ll leave the decision of how to serve it up to you.

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Fusilli with Summer Squash

I don’t typically cook with butter, but sometimes I’m inclined to use a dab here and there on my veggies. The natural butteriness of yellow squash lends itself particularly well to Paula Deen’s favorite weapon in the kitchen, and employs this dish with a simple richness that’s not too heavy for the summer.

When summer squash season arrives, the sunny-seasoned vegetable tends to stock its vines by the bucket full. That being said, if it’s in your garden, there’s generally plenty to go around. The first few weeks, I often stick to the simple steamer method, and drizzle the yellow or green rounds with a little olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. If I’m feeling a veggie-based indulgence, I’ll go for a dab of butter. (But let’s not go overboard with a whole stick. My northern roots will never take me close to a true Paula Deen).

You can only eat so many steamed squash, however, until the desire for something more leaves you astray. Which has led me to this fusilli pasta dish. It has the same minimal-feel of a simple steam, but a heartiness to keep your squash taste buds feeling inspired. I chose a mix of yellow and zucchini purely because the two happen to be in sync in terms of their growing time. Feel free to experiment with other summer varieties that are either growing in your garden or standing out at the farmer’s market. You’ll find that they’ll all pair well with a golden touch of butter and Parmesan.

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Raw Sauce with Zucchini Noodles

Now that I’ve got several batches of slow-cooked marinara stashed in the freezer, I’ve been taking the easy route with summer’s remaining tomatoes.  After all, it’s only during the few months of tomato season that raw sauce can fully prevail.  Raw sauce is akin to bruschetta, allowing the sweet acidity of tomatoes to shine in its freshest form.  Without the full-flavor piquancy, distinguishable only in local, in season tomatoes, raw sauce is heinous.  But when those beauties are veiling their plants in red, nearly nothing can eclipse a good raw sauce.

It pairs beautifully with pasta, but for this recipe, I decided to swap the wheat for another fresh summer veggie still indomitably rampant in my garden– zucchini.  While this isn’t the kind of dish I crave all the time, it’s perfect for summer.  Rather than adding another layer onto your body before stepping out in the heat, zucchini keeps this “pasta” meal on the lighter side.  Hot days burn for recipes like this.  And it’s one raw foodies go crazy for anytime of year.

It’s refreshing to go fully raw every once in awhile.  Now more than ever is the time to experiment with raw days, while garden produce is still booming.  The best way to make raw sauce like this is to taste as you go.  If you like more of an acidic sauce, give it a squeeze of lime.  If you want it sweeter, add a pinch of sugar. Not spicy enough?  Choose a hotter pepper, or perk it up with an extra dash of hot sauce.  Likewise, the herbs are your choice.  Just make sure to use vine-ripened tomatoes.  The more varieties, the better, to intensify all the different flavors a tomato is capable of offering.  Enjoy.

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Zucchini Pancakes

When summer squash season arrives, I always feel like I’m eating my weight in it.  Probably because I am.  Pounds and pounds of the buttery yellow squash and zucchini fill my kitchen, waiting to be cooked or given away before my counters turn into a compost pit.  I hate to see food go to waste, so every meal that I steam up some veggies (meaning at least once a day), there’s sure to be some sliced squash thrown in the steamer basket too.  A little olive oil, S&P is all you need to make those slices taste like butter.  Mhmm.

The naturally buttery, not-so-overbearing flavor of squash makes the ingredient a well-suited base for a variety of other dishes too.  A childhood favorite of mine is zucchini pancakes.  Growing up, my third grandma, AKA my longtime babysitter, would always make zucchini pancakes from her garden-grown zucchini.  A little hesitant at first on how to feed two vegetarian kids, my brother and I certainly ate our share of this zucchini creation.  But I never seemed to get tired of the weekly meal. Especially when a little ketchup was involved.

I hadn’t had zucchini pancakes quite possibly since the last time my babysitter, Betty, made them for me. Inspired by the masses of zucchini growing in my garden, I decided to recreate Betty’s zucchini pancakes, adding just a few extra flavors to what I remembered of her pancakes.  It’s a pretty simple recipe and one that reminds me of wanting to eat these on a weekly basis again.  Although this time around, I’ll be swapping the ketchup for some salsa.

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Roasted Veggie Sandwich

I’ve never been eggplant’s biggest fan.  That’s not to say I haven’t eaten a lot of it because my mom loves the purple schnoz.  But eggplant’s one veggie I could never fully stand behind.  And that’s rare because more and more as I get older, I like my vegetables (with the exception of parsnips…eww). From my experience, eggplant’s either undercooked, which makes me cringe when eating.  Or it’s always being forced to walk the plank and jump ship, left forever drowning in oil.  Neither have made eggplant become a stand out veggie for me.

That is, until I decided to throw it in with some veggies I was roasting.  As I said, my mom loves eggplant, so it always takes a spot in our garden.  Come summer time, we always have an abundance of it.  So when I was thinking up something to prepare for my lunch the next day, I decided on roasted veggies and thought I’d give eggplant another chance.

To my surprise the eggplant turned out to be my favorite part of this roasted veggie combo!  It’s takes on a sweetness from the olive oil, alongside the caramelized onions, without being overly saturated in grease.  I actually found myself picking out all the eggplant…not to say the other veggies weren’t good, but finally I found a way for eggplant to stand out for me.  I’ll definitely be making this again soon!

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