Friends with bountiful gardens become even more precious in the summer. Especially if your own turf is too shady to support a garden. August in New England is prime time for the zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes that form the basis of this dish. The inspiration comes from a recipe in Sarah Chase’s New England Open House Cookbook; the produce from Linda and Ron’s lush garden.
We had the casserole as a complete meal with brown rice. It could also be used as a side dish with a protein of your choice. Either way, it’s delicious.
3 TBS olive oil
2 medium onions cut into 1/4 inch crescent slices
2 bell peppers (yellow, orange, or red) seeded and cut into 1/2 inch strips
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
2 yellow summer squash, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
3 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped (drain off some of the seeds)
3 TBS shredded fresh basil
2 TBS basil pesto (optional, but good)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup combination of jack and cheddar cheeses, shredded
1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and sauté for about 5-6 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two until you can smell the garlic.
2. Add the squashes and tomatoes and cook until they are tender. Around 10-12 minutes.
3. Add the shredded basil and pesto. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Pour the mixture into a 13×9 baking dish. Top with the shredded cheese.
5. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. The casserole should be bubbling with melted cheese on top.
I cooked the vegetables in the morning and put them in the baking dish. I let them cool a bit, covered and refrigerated them. Later in the afternoon, I took the dish out of the refrigerator to bring it back to room temperature. About 45 minutes before dinner, I sprinkled the cheese on top and baked the casserole.
We said goodbye to Sam on Saturday. Our little force of nature with the big personality let us know that it was time for him to go. It shouldn’t have been the surprise that it was. Sam was just shy of eighteen. Although I guess the timing of the end is always a bit of a surprise.
Sam’s days of sleeping under the bed had become more frequent lately, as had his bouts of vomiting. His struggle to walk on Saturday set off an alarm. The veterinarian said that Sam’s blood pressure was very low, and that a blood clot was likely. It was time.
He’s at peace now. He can stop looking for Daisy. Sam always went to the door with us when I took Daisy out for her morning routine. He continued the ritual after she was gone whenever I went out the back door. His hopeful little face looking up at me when I returned without Daisy always tugged at my heart. He missed her as much as we did.
Strange feeling to be without a pet for the first time in over forty years. Freedom in a sense, but that freedom comes with a cost.
Someone recently commented that I hadn’t been posting recipes lately. Summer could have something to do with it. It’s a stop by the stand for fresh corn to add to whatever is going on the grill on the way home from the beach season. That run on sentence typifies the season. It’s a time of simplicity and spontaneity.
I did actually use the oven last night, but the meal was based on what I saw when I glanced in the refrigerator at 4:30 in the afternoon. Two zucchini, some cooked corn kernels that I had cut off of yesterday’s leftover fresh corn, tomato sauce, and two hamburger patties that I had moved from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost. Looked like stuffed zucchini to me. The following “recipe” was born.
1. Scoop out the seeds from the zucchini, place them in a baking dish. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Saute a diced onion in a little olive oil until it starts to soften. Add about a half pound of hamburger to the pan. Cook until the hamburger has browned. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a shake of red pepper flakes. At this point, I drained the grease before continuing, but it’s not really necessary.
3. Add the corn and tomato sauce. Stir to combine and heat through.
4. Spoon the mixture onto the zucchini. Bake in a 350 oven for about 35-40 minutes. Cover the dish with foil for the first twenty minutes or so.
5. Finish the cooked dish with curls of Parmesan and fresh basil. Dinner for two!
blossoms vibrating with bees
hydrangea still life
a different view
looking up instead of out
at its peak.
Riot of flowers
and a cat
with golden fur
in a puddle
Early morning beach walk.
The cry of sea birds
and the rhythmic splash of surf
the music of the hour.
Peaceful time on this perfect beach
with its clear water,
soft sand, and gentle surf.
Soon, the sound of birds
will be eclipsed
by the delighted cries of children
as they race into the water.
As it should be.
But, for this moment,
there is only peace.