This is always the hardest column to write. I never want summer to end, but I do love when the weather changes to fall. I remind myself again that it’s impossible to have both. One must go so the other can come. But we’re not there yet, autumn, so let’s enjoy the last bit of summer before it’s gone.
Right now, that means zucchini. Raise your hand if you still have far too much of this from your garden, or see those mountains of green squash at the grocery store and can’t resist buying them because they are so cheap. You should — because there’s still time to use zucchini in whatever you’re in the mood for. Zucchini bread is always an easy classic, but even quicker are these Zucchini-rosemary muffins, perfect for breakfast or afternoon snacking. No fancy mixer is required, and you can feel virtuous about them, because, vegetables.
Eggplant is still abundant, too. I found some on sale the other day, just four for a dollar (and I can’t tell you how hard it was to only buy two). I’ve been wanting to try and recreate a baba ganoush I tried while at Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado earlier in the summer, and this one comes close. It’s really baba ganoush — smoked eggplant — plus something else. I added roasted zucchini (hand raised here on the overbuying), pepitas, and toasted spices, hence the name, Eggplant and zucchini baba ganoush.
It’s not really a classic baba, and purists will surely let me know that, but it’s delicious and if you love eggplant, it’s a great, easy dip to add to your repertoire.
Yellow squash is one of those vegetables that I instantly equate with summer. Ditto, tomatoes. So I roasted the two of them together, and then tossed it all in an easy pasta dish: Yellow squash and cherry tomato pasta with breadcrumbs, which is nice warm or cold, and surprisingly satisfying with the added crunch of homemade breadcrumbs. I don’t know why I don’t use breadcrumbs more often. They can make something simple into something special. The key is making homemade breadcrumbs, then toasting them in the skillet. It doesn’t take long.
Finally, peaches. My all-time favorite fruit of the summer. I wanted to do something that wouldn’t take too long to put together, so here’s a new recipe for a Peach-maple croustade that’s mostly almonds and oatmeal, simply topped with ice cream, peaches, and a maple syrup reduction. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to get them but while I can, I’m going to make up for these last few weeks that I’ve spent peach-less.
I’ll be sad to see them go, but when I bought them, my farmer already had a few pears at his stand, and I tried a new variety that I’ve never tasted before. It wasn’t the right time for pears a week ago, but it will be soon. I can’t wait.
Ellise Pierce is the author of “Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking With a French Accent” (Running Press). Read her blog (www.cowgirlchef.com), and follow her on Twitter (@cowgirlchef) and Instagram (cowgirlchef).
1/4 cup flour
1 cup almond flour
1/3 cup oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
Pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup maple syrup
3 large peaches
Vanilla ice cream
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and put a piece of parchment on a large baking sheet.
2. Mix the flour, almond flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, brown sugar, and pinch of salt in a mixer bowl. Add the butter and mix until large lumps form. Divide the dough into 6 portions and roll out each one. Put these discs on the parchment paper as you go. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool on a cookie rack.
3. Put maple syrup in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook for about 15 minutes or until it reduces by half.
4. Peel peaches, remove the pits, and slice. Set these aside.
5. Scoop ice cream onto the croustades. Add peach slices and pour some maple syrup on top.
Makes 1 dozen
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups oatmeal (not quick)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup grated zucchini
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees and put baking papers in a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. In one bowl, mix together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and rosemary.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the applesauce, buttermilk, brown sugar, oil and egg. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir just until everything is moist. Gently fold in grated zucchini. Fill the muffin cups almost to the top and bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are just barely browned. Let cool 5 minutes, remove the muffins, and let them cool completely on a rack.
Yellow squash and cherry tomato pasta with breadcrumbs
Makes 2 large or 4 small servings
2 yellow squash
1 pint cherry tomatoes
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided + more for serving
Sea salt and pepper
3 ounces pasta (I used fusilli)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (fresh is best)
2 large basil leaves, plus more for serving
Parmesan, grated for serving
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Chop yellow squash into fat, 1/2-inch dice and put on a baking sheet. Halve the cherry tomatoes and put them on the baking sheet, too. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil all over the vegetables, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss, making sure to put the tomatoes insides-up. Roast until the tomatoes are soft and the squash is lightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes
3. While the vegetables are cooking, put the pasta onto boil. When it’s al dente, drain and set aside.
4. Toast breadcrumbs by putting them in a skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sea salt and pepper to taste. Cook and stir as needed until nicely browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Put pasta in a large bowl along with the vegetables, torn basil leaves, and some grated Parmesan. Serve in individual bowls with some of the breadcrumbs and more Parmesan.
Eggplant and zucchini baba ganoush
Makes about 4 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
3/4 cup roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1. Roast the 2 eggplants directly on a low gas flame of your stovetop, turning as the flesh burns. This will take 15 to 20 minutes, and it’s best if you go slowly because you want the flesh to cook as you burn the outside — this is what will give it a smoke flavor. When these are cooked, put them on a plate to cool.
Save time: Roast these in advance and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the baba ganoush.
2. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice the zucchini into rounds, then quarters, and toss on a large baking sheet with olive oil and salt and pepper. Don’t worry too much about these looking perfect — they’ll be pureed later. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until browned on both sides, turning once. Let cool.
3. Put the pumpkin seeds in a blender or food processor and blend until you have a fine powder, almost like a dry peanut butter. Peel the eggplant and put the flesh in the food processor. Add the cooked zucchini.
4. Toast the spices in a skillet over low heat for a minute or two. Crush and add to the food processor.
5. Add the lemon juice and zest to the food processor. Pulse until blended. Taste for seasonings and add as much salt as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.