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The Cookstr 10: Ten Recipes for Zucchini, Corn, and Tomatoes

August 23, 2010

Bum. Bump bump bump. Bump bump bump. Bump bump baaaa! (That’s the Rocky theme song, in case it wasn’t 100% clear).

In this corner, we have zucchini–green and firm, extremely versatile, with an uncanny ability to pop up in so many places, you’d think it’s cloning itself. In the other corner, we have tomatoes–plump, juicy, the essence of summer. And, wait, what’s this? In another corner, we have corn! A surprise third contender for the king of summer veggies, with sweet kernels popping out in endless rows. Who will win? Well, you, if you play your cards right. This is the annual Cookstr 10 dedicated just to the proliferation of the holy trinity of summer vegetables.

Marcus Samuelsson's Tomato Bruschetta

There’s an old saying that you cannot ever plant the right amount of zucchini. If you plant just one, it will die. If you plant two, you’ll have too many zucchini. At a certain point in August, this also feels true of tomatoes, and to some degree corn (though most of us don’t have our very own corn field–but the abundance in the markets is inspiring).

1. Andrew Schloss’s Zucchini Bread. Zucchini bread is perhaps the granddaddy of all zucchini recipes, the go-to way to use up all of those baseball bat-sized squash that may be a bit too big for other purpose.

2. Michael Ruhlman’s Corn Relish. When you’re looking for something to sweeten up your plate at this time of year, a corn relish is exactly what’s called for. Studded with peppers and tomatoes, the whole thing becomes even more vibrant with a dose of turmeric.

3. Marcus Samuelsson’s Tomato Bruschetta. Simple tomato bruschetta goes to grad school. Roughly chopped tomatoes combine with sautéed garlic and honey, then are layered up on toasted bread with some avocado, basil, and slivered jalapeño.

4. Joan Nathan’s Wheat Berry Salad with Peppers and Zucchini. Wheat berries are whole wheat kernels with their husks removed. Think barley, think quinoa–these chewy, nourishing little bits make a very satisfying salad, especially when they mingle with colorful veggies, tangy feta, and a vinaigrette with personality.

5. David Waltuck’s Summertime Creamed Corn. There’s your usual creamed corn, and then there’s summertime creamed corn, made with fresh kernels. This one gets its moorings from a lush béchamel sauce, which is a thickened light cream sauce, enriched with a few gratings of fresh nutmeg.

6. Andrew Carmellini’s Tomato Risotto. When you’ve gone tomato-crazy at the farmers’ market, frantically collecting a pile of gorgeous specimens of tomatoes of all colors and stripes, this is the recipe to pull out. The big ones become part of the risotto itself, the little ones become the garnish, and the whole dish becomes an ode to the summertime tomato, with a bit of that’s-what-I’m-talking-about mascarpone and Parmesan at the end.

7. Dave Lieberman’s Shaved Zucchini and Radish Salad over Smoked Salmon with Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette. Raw zucchini is absolutely delightful, mild in flavor with a delicate texture, and very refreshing. This is the kind of salad that makes the person eating it feel very special.

8. Eric Gower’s Spicy Corn Salad. The heat from the chile peppers does great things against the sweetness of the corn. Other key ingredients in this surprising salad are maple syrup, lime, and cilantro. Serve warm or cold, your choice.

9. Paula Wolfert’s Zucchini Musakka with Tomatoes and Chickpeas. Various Mediterranean countries make a version of this dish, with the ingredients so wonderfully melded together. This assembly of cooked summer vegetables is served at room temperature, which is a bonus for summer entertaining.

10. Julia della Croce’s Zucchini Rolls Stuffed with Ricotta. Young, firm zucchini are what you’ll need for this dish. Gently cooked slabs of squash are rolled up with a cheesy ricotta filling, and baked in a simple basil-y tomato sauce. You can make the components ahead of time, and the assembly is simple.

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