Summer Squash Soup

Summer Squash Soup topped with Tofu Croutons

This is one of my favorite recipes. This is my modified version of Heidi Swanson’s recipe from Super Natural Every Day. I added more veggies and it’s the perfect dish that incorporates a lot of the vegetables that we get in our CSA boxes in July and August. You can also modify the recipe based on what you have on hand. And consider the tofu croutons optional, however they are pretty good!

Ingredients
8 ounces extra firm tofu cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon red Thai curry paste (or more if you like)
3 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil (recommended) or extra virgin olive oil (plus more for the croutons)
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional, for lovely spice)
3 large shallots, chopped
1 1/2 pounds (about 5 medium) yellow summer squash or zucchini (or combination of both), cut into 3/4 inch chunks
2 carrots, cut a similar size as the potatoes (tiny cubes)
12 ounces potatoes, unpeeled, cut into tiny cubes
4 to 6 cloves of garlic
Corn kernels cut from 2 uncooked cobs of sweet corn
3 cups good quality vegetable broth
1 14 ounce can of coconut milk, or 1 12 ounce can of evaporated milk plus 2 ounces of water
Light or dark brown sugar (optional – if soup needs additional sweetness)
Basil, cut into ribbons (optional garnish)

Directions

Tofu Croutons

Season the tofu with a generous pinch of salt and toss with a small amount of oil.
Cook tofu over medium-high heat (do not stir or toss) for about 5 minutes until pieces are browned on one side.
Toss the tofu gently and continue cooking until the tofu is golden (about 4 to 5 more minutes) and set aside.

Soup

Mash the curry paste into the coconut (or olive) oil until the paste is well incorporated.
Heat the paste in a large heavy pot over medium heat until fragrant (about 1 minute).
Add the optional red pepper flakes to the paste and stir around for about 15 seconds.
Stir in the shallots and a couple pinches of salt and saute until shallots are tender (about 2 minutes).
Stir in the carrots and stir around for about a minute.
Stir in the squash and potatoes and cook until the squash starts to get tender (a few minutes).
Stir in the garlic and the corn.

Add the broth and coconut milk (or evaporated milk plus water).
Bring soup up to a gentle boil and then lower the heat to a low simmer (try not to overcook the vegetables).
Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes).
Towards the end of the 15 minutes taste the soup for sweetness; if you used evaporated milk then you may need to add some of the optional brown sugar to your liking to add desired sweetness.
Once soup is finished cooking taste it for seasoning and add more salt or curry paste if needed (however it’s much better to add extra curry paste in the beginning when you’re able to cook some depth out of the paste).

I like to grind fresh black pepper over my bowl of soup and then top with the basil ribbons and tofu croutons (if using).

The original, unmodified recipe claims it serves 6. My version likely feeds 6 hungry people.

Shredded Kale Salad with Tamari and Sesame

This is a quick and tasty side dish or snack. It’s also delicious the next day, just take it out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. You could probably try using Chard or any other hearty leafy green. I found this recipe in Marie Simmons’ Fresh & Fast Vegetarian cookbook (highly recommended).

Ingredients
1 small bunch (about 10 oz.) kale, washed and dried
3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari, soy sauce, or liquid aminos
2 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon (or more to taste) grated fresh ginger
1-3 garlic cloves (depending on your love for strong garlic flavor), grated
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

Directions
Cut along both sides of the Kale stem and discard stems.
Pile several leaves of Kale and slice into thin (1/8 inch) crosswise slices, resulting in 4 to 6 lightly packed cups.
Combine the rice vinegar, tamari, oil, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic in a large bowl.
Add Kale to the bowl and rub the dressing using your hands to massage it into the Kale until it starts to wilt (1 to 2 minutes).
Add the carrot, onion, and sesame seeds and toss with a fork.
Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4 

Curried Coconut Noodles with Early Summer Vegetables

This is a recipe I modified from the book From Asparagus to Zucchini.  Other veggies can be easily switched out based on what you have.  You can use either regular or light coconut milk and the dish still works.

8 ounces egg noodles
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped spring onions (reserve some of the green tops and slice to use as a garnish at the end)
1/2 cup carrot, julienned
1 cup cut up green beans or broccoli cut into florets
1 tablespoon minced garlic (or 5 garlic scapes, sliced)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 – 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon turmeric
salt and pepper
1 cup peas (or sugar snap peas or snow peas, cut in half)
1 cup sliced zucchini (cut lengthwise, then slice into half moons & cut in half)
1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk – shake well before opening
juice of 1 1/2 limes (or 1 lime and 1/2 lemon)
1/2 cup basil leaves, pile up the leaves and slice into strips (chiffonade)
garnish: lime wedges, additional basil strips, and sliced green tops from onions

Cook noodles in salted water until barely tender (do not overcook).
Drain noodles, rinse with cold water, and shake off excess water.
Heat a large ceramic coated heavy pot or a wok over a high flame for about 1-2 minutes.
Add the olive oil, swirl to coat the pan, and heat until very hot but not smoking.
Add onions, carrons, and green beans or broccoli, stir fry until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
Add garlic, ginger, cumin, red pepper flakes, turmeric, and salt and pepper to taste.
Continue stir frying 1-2 minutes.
Add peas, zucchini, coconut milk, and lime juice.
Boil mixture until sauce thickens and vegetables are barely tender, about 10-12 minutes.
Add noodles and basil and stir until all the noodles are coated.
Heat through, stirring gently.
Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
Serve immediately and garnish with lime wedges, basil strips, and sliced green tops from the spring onions.

Makes 4-6 servings

Lactic Fermented Coleslaw

This is a great way to have coleslaw ready for those family picnics … without the hassle of canning. The recipe comes from D. Mary, in Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning (Chelsea Green). The book contains recipes from the French farmers of the Terre Vivante collective. Note that this recipe is not for precision kitchen chemists.

Ingredients
2 pounds white cabbage (I used red, it tasted just fine)
2 large carrots
2 large onions
black peppercorns
juniper berries
bay leaves
spring water*
sea salt
1-quart sterilized canning jar

Directions
Finely grate the vegetables; a food processor is excellent for this.
Combine the vegetables well (stir/toss so they are well-mixed).
In the bottom of the jar, drop a few peppercorns, juniper berries and bay leaves.
Add two handfuls of the veggie mix and pack down firmly.
Sprinkle with salt; add a few more bay leaves, peppercorns and juniper berries.
Continue making layers like this until there is just three-quarters to one-half inch of space left at the top of the jar.
Top off with one last layer of spices and salt.
Pack down one last time.

If the veggies are not covered with liquid, add a small amount of brine made with the spring water and salt (2 tablespoons of salt per quart of spring water).
Close and seal the jar.

Let the jar sit in the kitchen for a few days to start the fermentation process. A towel under the jar will catch any liquid that bubbles out as the fermenting begins.
Move the jar to a cool place to finish.

The salad can be eaten after 10 days, but will be crunchy.
Once the jar has been opened, be sure to store in the refrigerator and pack the ingredients down before reclosing the jar.
Storing the coleslaw in the refrigerator will slow the fermentation process.

Other information
*Do not use tap water. Tap water contains chlorine and inhibits lactic fermentation.
Lactic fermented veggies are best eaten raw, and in small quantities. They help with digestion and in maintaining a healthy gut environment.
Traditional lactic fermentation such as in this recipe creates an acidic environment in which spoilage is rare. The USDA recommends hot water canning of fermented foods to avoid spoilage.
You can rinse some of the saltiness from the coleslaw without losing the flavor or nutrition benefits.

Szechuan Noodles

This pasta features a variety of flavors, including garlic, ginger, tahini (sesame paste), sherry and sherry vinegar, and more.  The dish is finished off with grated fresh carrot on the top, mimicking fresh grated cheese on top of an Italian pasta dish.  A nice salad with Tahini Asian Dressing works well as a side to this dish.  (I modified this dish from Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, cutting much of the oil and adding more spice and the grated carrot.)

3 to 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (depending on your love for garlic)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1/4 cup low sodium tamari (good quality soy sauce)
2 tablespoons sherry (if you store your ginger in sherry as mentioned here, use that sherry)
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, use more if you like it spicy)
1 tablespoon dark/toasted sesame oil
Fresh ground black pepper
Pinch of ground cayenne
1/2 pound spaghetti or spaghettini
1/2 cup reserved water from cooking the pasta
1 to 2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (depending on size), julienned
2 green onions (any color), sliced or 2 garlic scapes, sliced
1 carrot

Place the garlic and ginger in a food processor.
Add the olive oil, tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, sherry, sherry vinegar, honey, red pepper flakes, fresh ground black pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon), and cayenne.
Puree the sauce.  Set aside, allowing the flavors to mingle.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add a large handful of kosher salt to the boiling water.
Add the pasta to the pot and boil until al dente, following the package instructions.  Before straining the pasta, carefully scoop 1/2 cup of cooking water.
Strain the pasta, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water to the bottom of the pan, and return hot pasta to the pan.
Immediately add sauce to the pan and toss with the pasta.
Add the julienned peppers and scallions or garlic scapes and toss.  Add more of the reserved pasta water if it’s too thick.
Using a cheese grater or Microplane style grater, grate the carrot over the top of the pasta like cheese.

Serves 4

Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad

This crunchy salad is a refreshing treat on a hot summer day.  After dressing the salad it is recommended that you let it chill for about an hour.  While you can dress it with your favorite vinaigrette dressing, it is delicious with the Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing.  If you have an apple (green, Pink Lady, etc.), julienne some and add it for some tangy sweetness.

2-3 small bulbs of Kohlrabi
2 small carrots
1 medium green onion (omit if using the Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing)
1/2 cup of  Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing (optional, use your favorite vinaigrette)

Cut the stems off the kohlrabi and peel off the fibrous outside with a knife or strong vegetable peeler.
Wash the carrots and rub clean with a lint free kitchen towel.
Julienne both the kohlrabi & carrot.  (See the picture of completed salad for an example of julienne.)
If using your own dressing, slice the green onion, bulb and all.  If using the Apple Cider Vinegar dressing, then follow that recipe’s directions for cutting the green onion.
Toss julienned vegetables into a bowl and add the sliced green onion.
Dress the salad with 1/2 cup of dressing and toss until mixed well.
Place the finished salad in the fridge and allow to chill for about an hour.
Season with a little salt and pepper if desired.

Serves 3-4 as a side dish.

Gingered Carrot & Apricot Soup

This soup is awesome for early summer as the weather is warming up, and you start thinking that making something hot for dinner is just not the thing to do. The fresh ginger gives it a bit of a kick that makes it very refreshing. It’s also very quick to make. The hardest part is waiting for the carrots to cook long enough that they’re not crunchy anymore. The recipe comes from A Good Day for Soup, by Jeannette Ferrary (Chronicle Books).

Ingredients

4 large carrots – sliced and cooked until tender
1 cup ripe apricots – diced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger – minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of cayenne (optional)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups stock (chicken, vegetable, water)
fresh cilantro – chopped, as a garnish

Directions
Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor.
Puree.
Cover and chill.
Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

Other Information
Serves: 4 to 6

Apricots are in season in early summer. If you cannot find a good price on them, or are craving this soup out of season, it is possible to make the soup with dried apricots. Just soak the dried fruit (6-8 of them) in about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water overnight. You can include the leftover water in the quantity of stock required for the recipe.