Party Planning: Garden Recipes

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Garden Fresh Summer Side Dishes:

Caprese Salad Recipe

Courtesy of Rachael Ray

3 vine-ripe tomatoes, 1/4-inch thick slices
1 pound fresh mozzarella, 1/4-inch thick slices
20 to 30 leaves (about 1 bunch) fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Coarse salt and pepper

Layer alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella, adding a basil leaf between each, on a large, shallow platter. Drizzle the salad with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.


Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons & Parsley Brown Butter

From EatingWell: June/July 2006
"For this recipe, convenient store-bought potato gnocchi are tossed with delicate ribbons of zucchini, shallots and cherry tomatoes that have all been sautéed in nutty browned butter."
4 servings, 1 1/2 cups each
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

1 pound fresh or frozen gnocchi
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium shallots, chopped
1 pound zucchini, (about 3 small), very thinly sliced lengthwise (see Tip)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1.Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cook gnocchi until they float, 3 to 5 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.

2.Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the butter is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add shallots and zucchini and cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, nutmeg and pepper and continue cooking, stirring often, until the tomatoes are just starting to break down, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and parsley. Add the gnocchi and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Tips & Notes
Tip: To make "ribbon-thin" zucchini, slice lengthwise with a vegetable peeler or a mandoline slicer.


Athenian Pasta Primavera

From EatingWell: May/June 2008, EatingWell for a Healthy Heart Cookbook (2008)
"This Greek-inspired pasta dish features zucchini, bell pepper, peas, fresh mint and feta. Cherry tomatoes and chopped kalamata olives also work well."
8 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 medium zucchini, trimmed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 pound whole-wheat penne
1 1/2 cups baby peas, (if frozen, rinse under warm water and drain)
1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, (4 ounces)

1.Put a large pot of water on to boil.
2.Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
3.Add bell pepper and zucchini to the onion. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, 1 minute more. Stir in wine and pepper; simmer until most of the wine has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.
4.Meanwhile, cook penne in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot.
5.Stir the reserved cooking liquid and the vegetables into the pasta along with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, peas, mint and feta.


Fingerling Potato Salad with Honey-Thyme Vinaigrette

Compliments of Midwest Living

Cook: 9 minutes
Prep: 30 minutes
Stand: 5 minutes
Chill: 2 to 24 hours

1-1/2 pounds white or yellow fingerling potatoes
1 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. fresh haricots verts or tender young green beans
3 cups water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 medium shallot, halved
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1-1/2 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 pound bacon, crisp-cooked, drained and crumbled
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (2 ounces)

1. Scrub the potatoes. In a large saucepan, cook potatoes and the 1 teaspoon kosher salt, covered, in enough boiling water to cover for 8 to 10 minutes or just until tender; drain well. Spread out in a single layer in a shallow baking pan to cool. When cool enough to handle, halve potatoes lengthwise. Set aside.
2. Wash haricots verts; trim and (if you like) halve crosswise. In a medium saucepan, bring the 3 cups water to boiling. Add haricots verts. Return to boiling. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 to 2 minutes or until just crisp-tender. Immediately remove haricots verts from boiling water with a slotted spoon; plunge into a large bowl half-filled with ice water. Let stand 5 minutes; drain well. Set aside.
3. For vinaigrette: In a food processor or blender, combine vinegar, shallot, honey, thyme, mustard, 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt and the pepper. Cover and process or blend until combined. With processor or blender running, slowly add oil in a steady stream until mixture is thickened.
4. In a large salad bowl, combine potatoes, haricots verts and red onion. Drizzle with enough of the vinaigrette to thoroughly coat. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours.
5. Just before serving, toss salad with bacon and top with feta cheese. Serve with remaining dressing or reserve dressing for another use. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

*Chefs Tip: You will have more dressing than you need, but that's okay. It will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator and makes a great dressing for another potato salad or pasta salad, or even on a regular green tossed salad.


Three Ways to Butter Up Sweet Corn

Compliments of Midwest Living

Start to Finish: 10 minutes

1 cup butter, softened
2 Tbsp. grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. finely chopped shallot or 2 teaspoons finely chopped red onion
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper

1. For paprika-flavored butter: In a small bowl, combine butter, Romano cheese, shallot, paprika and white pepper. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed or stir until well combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours before serving to allow flavors to blend. Bring butter to room temperature before serving. Serve with corn on the cob.
2. Store any remaining butter in tightly covered container in refrigerator for up to 3 days. 1 cup (enough for 16 ears of corn).
3. Rosemary-Chive Butter: In a small bowl, combine 1 cup butter, softened; 1 tablespoon finely snipped fresh rosemary; and 1 tablespoon finely sniped fresh chives. Mix, chill and serve as you like.
4. Lime-Pepper Butter: In a small bowl, combine 1 cup butter, softened; 1 teaspoon finely shredded lime peel; 1 tablespoon lime juice; 1/4 teaspoon sugar; and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Mix, chill and serve as you like.


Fresh Corn, Tomato and Chipotle Chile Salsa

Compliments of Midwest Living

Chill: 1 hour
Prep: 30 minutes
Stand: 20 minutes

4 medium ears of fresh corn, husked or 2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
2 tsp. olive oil or cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered, 3 medium tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped or one 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup chopped green and/or red sweet pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped celery, red onion and/or green onions
1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice
1 to 2 tsp. chopped canned chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce*
3/4 tsp. salt
Blue tortilla chips or scoop-shaped tortilla chips

1. If using the fresh ears of corn, scrub corn with a stiff vegetable brush to remove silks. Rinse under cold running water. Place one ear of corn at a time in a shallow pan. Holding the ear at an angle, use a sharp knife to cut down across the tips of the kernels. Using the dull side of the knife, scrape the ear to release the milky juices into the pan. You should have about 2 cups of the corn with its juices.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add fresh or frozen corn and garlic. Cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
3. Stir tomatoes, sweet pepper, celery, cilantro, lime juice, chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce and salt into corn mixture. Transfer to a large bowl. Cover and chill a least 1 hour or up to 24 hours before serving. Let salsa stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes 4 cups, 16 servings.
4. *Test Kitchen Tip: Because chile peppers contain volatile oils that can burn your skin and eyes, avoid direct contact with them as much as possible. When working with chile peppers, wear plastic or rubber gloves. If your bare hands do touch the peppers, wash your hands and nails well with soap and warm water.