Saturday, August 14, 2010

Summer Vegetable Trio

It's suddenly hot in Seattle and finally feels like summer. Most people here are thrilled but I'm not really a hot weather person. The only thing I really like about summer is being able to wear sundresses and sandals and the ability to buy and eat wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables. But, when it's hot, I don't like to heat up the kitchen - or me - so I like barely cooked food and not too much of it. Meat feels a little heavy to me when it's hot outside so meat becomes the side dish for a change and vegetables become the stars of the meal. 

After a visit to the farmer's market, I had some wonderful broccoli, corn and zucchini. I made a raw broccoli salad with bacon, onions and sunflower seeds. The dressing is just a bit sweet and tangy as I used Rice Wine Vinegar as the dressing with a pinch of extra sugar. I also love using the stalks peeled and cut into little pieces as they are wonderfully crunchy. I didn't use the bacon fat although that's probably the traditional way to make this kind of salad - I used just cooked bacon and the oil for the salad is vegetable oil which makes it much lighter. 

 For the corn - it is one of the simplest things I make. I cut the it off the cob and sauteed it with chopped onions and red pepper that caramelize in just a bit in butter. It is delicious this way and you can substitute fresh chopped tomato too. 

For the zucchini, I simply grated it with a carrot and sauteed it in extra virgin olive oil with garlic and basil. My kids dislike zucchini unless it is made this way or hidden in chocolate cake. This way of cooking it takes away that mushy squash texture and highlights the lovely light green flavor of zucchini. All in all, it was a delightful summer meal and not at all heavy and involved very little heat - just a quick saute. My sons added some meat to their meal - leftover chicken and Italian sausage meatballs. I just added a big glass of Iced Tea!

Broccoli Salad

1 large head of broccoli washed or 2 small heads (stalk included)
6 strips of bacon cooked and crumbled (can also use bacon bits from a package - up to 1/4 cup)
1/2 small red onion chopped
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I used Safflower)
2 Tablespoons Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
¼ cup Raisins or dried Cranberries
¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds 

Cut off the broccoli florets and chop them into small pieces and place in a bowl. Peel the broccoli stalks and then chop them into little pieces. Pour boiling water over them and let blanch for 2 – 3 minutes. Then drain.  

Heat vegetable oil in pan and add onion. Cook until just translucent. Add in the crumbled cooked bacon (or bacon bits) and then Rice Wine Vinegar and Sugar. Stir until Sugar is melted and Vinegar is hot. Pour over Broccoli. Season with Salt and Pepper and toss until mixed. Let the salad sit for about 15 minutes to 1/2 hour to let the flavors meld before serving. To serve, sprinkle with Raisins (or Cranberries) and Sunflower Seeds.

Sauteed Corn with Red Peppers

4 ears fresh corn, shucked
1/2 onion minced
1/2 red pepper diced (or fresh tomato chopped)
2 Tablespoons butter
Salt and Pepper
Boil corn for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let cool and then cut from the cob. Melt butter in skillet and add onion and pepper pieces. Saute until onion pieces are wilted and just starting to turn golden. Add in the corn and saute until corn is completely hot. Season with salt and pepper.

Grated Zucchini and Carrot

1 large zucchini or 2 small zuchinis grated
1 carrot peeled and grated
1 large garlic clove minced
3 -4 large basil leaves minced or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
In large frying pan, heat Olive Oil and add garlic. Cook just until you can smell the fragrance of the garlic. Be sure to stir with the spatula to keep the garlic from burning. Add grated zucchini and carrot and basil leaves - saute until soft. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Five Element Analysis

These dishes are very colorful so you know that it is going to be a very balanced meal if you add some additional protein. Analyzed by dish: The Broccoli brings in the Wood Element along with the vinegar, the bacon and sunflower seeds add Water. The onion adds the Metal Element, while the sugar (also in the Seasoned Rice Vinegar) adds the Earth Element. For the corn and red peppers - the corn is the Earth Element, the red peppers brings in the Fire Element and the onions being only lightly sauteed add the Metal Element. The zucchini dish is primarily Earthy as both carrots and zucchini belong to this element. The garlic and basil bring in the Metal Element. Serve them all together and you will definitely have balance!

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