Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Keep your cool, cooks

My colleague Andrea Weigl had more tips and recipes than she could share in her story on cool summer suppers on today's Food front. Here are more:

Nanette Truelove of Fuquay-Varina compiled a cookbook of vegetable recipes to help her daughter's customers who shop at her daughter's Apex farmstand. Truelove's Sicilian background, of course, produced this quick-and-easy recipe:

Sicilian Raw Sauce

Nanette Truelove notes: Use only deep red vine ripened tomatoes to make the sweetest sauce. A quick and easy way to remove the skin is to place the tomatoes in a dishpan and pour boiling water on top of them. Let them stand 3 minutes, pour off the hot water and replace with cold water. Cut off the end of the tomato and slip the skins off.

¼ cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1 hand full of fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove, crushed and peeled
Enough peeled ripe Roma tomatoes to fill a quart blender
1 pound of angel hair pasta
Romano cheese, optional
Crushed red pepper, optional

PLACE olive oil, salt, pepper, basil , garlic and tomatoes in a quart-size blender. Mash tomatoes down to eliminate air. Blend to liquefy. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before using the sauce.

COOK pasta as directed on package. Strain the pasta and place it in a serving bowl and stir in all of the sauce. Cover the serving bowl with a lid and let the pasta sit no longer than three minutes before serving. The sauce is a bit watery but the pasta will quickly take the extra liquid. Serve the pasta in soup dishes. Garnish this dish with Romano cheese and crushed red pepper.

Yield: 6 servings

Susan Reda does cooking demonstrations at a Chapel Hill area farmers market. Below is her recipe for Cool as a Cucumber Salad, but here are links to other recipes from Reda that require little or no cooking on hot summer days:

Cool as a Cucumber Salad

Susan Reda suggests serving this salad with grilled meats. You also could add a spoonful of yogurt to the dressing.

4 (5 ½-inch to 6 ½-inch) cucumbers, thinly sliced on the diagonal
¼ to ½ onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup rough chopped dill, loosely packed
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

COMBINE cucumbers, onion, dill, salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let flavors marry. Serve.

Yield: About 3 cups.

Mary Jo Lassiter of North Raleigh offered this basic outline of a recipe for a Summer Squash Casserole made in the microwave: Cook squash and onions in the microwave, then mash or chop both squash and onions. (Chopping is easier than mashing.) Add a tablespoon each of sour cream and undiluted cream of chicken soup and the 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese. (You can add more to match the amount of vegetables.) Cook on power level 5 or 6 until is is hot. When it is getting about done, sprinkle bread crumbs or ritz cracker crumbs on top and finish cooking.