With summer comes summertime food: steaming corn-on-the-cob, burgers, barbecue, ice cream sundaes and crisp red watermelon wedges. It is also the time you can make certain summertime homemade foods that are not usually available at other times of the year, such as pickles, ice pops, green tomatoes and oven roasted tomatoes. These summer favorites will remind you of what time of year it is. What are your favorite foods to prepare in the summer?
Easy Homemade Pickles
Yields 2 quarts or 4 pints
This pickling technique is safe and very easy adapt. In addition to cucumber pickles, you can also use this recipe to pickle any sturdy vegetable including green beans, zucchini, carrots, celery, onions and beets. If you stick to the basic ration of one part 5 percent vinegar to one part water, you can season the pickling brine to taste. (Commercial vinegar contains 5% -20% acetic acid)
Salt is always a key component, both for flavor and because the salt helps to crisp the vegetables. Almost all pickle recipes contain spices and you can add any combination of black peppercorns, dill seed, coriander seed, cumin seed, mustard seed, allspice, mace, cinnamon or cloves.
Wash and trim the vegetables as you would for making a salad or a vegetable side dish. Cut them into bite-sized shapes you like—spears, sticks, chunks, rounds or chips.
You can pack the vegetables into storage containers with lids raw, blanched or cooked. Store the sealed containers in the refrigerator, where they will keep for weeks.
- 2-2 1/2 pounds fresh, firm vegetables, such as cucumbers, squash, green beans, etc.
- 2 cups 5-percent vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 whole garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed for quart jars, halved for pint jars
- 4-6 three-inch fronds of fresh herbs
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon whole-seed mustard
- 2 small dried red chili or slices of hot pepper
Trim and cut the vegetables.
Pack the vegetables snugly into 2 clean quart or 4 pint jars adding the garlic and fresh herbs at the same time. Then add the peppercorns, mustard seeds and hot peppers.
Combine the vinegar, water, salt and honey in a small pot. Bring to a boil and ladle the vinegar mixture over the vegetables to fill the jar. Seal the jars. Allow to cool overnight and then store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Creamy Fresh Blackberry Ice Pops
- 10 ounces fresh blackberries
- 2 cups vanilla frozen yogurt, softened
- 2 tablespoons honey
- One 6-piece ice pop mold
Place the blackberries into a blender or food processor. Cover and puree until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the blackberry puree through a fine sieve placed over a large bowl to strain out the seeds.
Add the softened frozen yogurt and honey to the strained blackberry puree and mix well. Pour into ice pop molds and freeze.
“Fried” Green Tomatoes
- 2 to 3 medium-sized green tomatoes
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Salt and pepper
Cut the tomatoes into thick slices and place them on paper towels to dry for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the flour in a shallow dish and add the seasoned salt.
Place the egg in a second shallow dish.
Place the panko crumbs to a third dish and add the paprika.
Sprinkle the tomato slices lightly with salt and pepper.
Dredge the tomato slices in flour, then egg and then in the panko crumbs to coat evenly.
Place on a greased baking pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, turning the tomato slices over and continue baking for 10 – 15 minutes more until the tomatoes are crispy.
Remove and cool on a wire rack.
If creole seasoning is not available in your area, you can make it. See the recipe below.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
- 1 tablespoon horseradish
- 1/2 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
Mix all ingredients together and whisk to combine.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. This sauce is also good with grilled fish.
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine and store in a jar with a tight-fitting cover.
Slow Roasted Summer Tomatoes
Slow roasting caramelizes and intensifies the flavor of the tomatoes. You can eat these “as-is” from the oven. They are also great served on crusty bread with a little olive oil or as a side dish. Perfect for adding to pasta, salads, sandwiches or used as a topping for crostini. Roasted tomatoes can be used in place of sun-dried tomatoes in recipes. They can also be frozen to be used at a later time.
- 4 pounds fresh vine-ripened plum tomatoes*
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- * Or as many tomatoes as you want to make. You can also use beefsteak tomatoes, heirloom and/or cherry tomatoes for this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty foil (be sure to line the baking pan because it catches the juices and helps with cleanup).
Wash and dry the tomatoes; cut out the stem core and discard. Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds, leaving as much pulp as possible.
If you are using large heirlooms, cut them into quarters or even eighths.
Place tomatoes, cut sides up, on the prepared baking pan. They can be placed closely together since they shrink considerably during baking.
Sprinkle garlic and olive oil evenly over the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake 6 to 8 hours or until the tomatoes are reduced in size but still retain their shape. They should have shrunk to about half their original size and still be moist.
The time the tomatoes take to cook will vary because of their size and moisture content, but they should be caramelized and crispy on the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool.
Roasted tomatoes will keep in an airtight container, 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator or up to 8 months in the freezer. Bring to room temperature before using.
Roasted Tomatoes in Olive Oil
- Slow-Roasted Tomatoes recipe (see recipe above)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Fresh basil leaves
- Thyme sprigs
Allow the Slow-Roasted Tomatoes to cool.
Clean and sterilize a 1-pint jar; set aside and let cool.
Layer the tomatoes in a jar with fresh basil leaves and some sprigs of thyme.
Pour olive oil in the jar until the tomatoes are covered by at least an inch or oil (the oil will seal the tomatoes for longer lasting). Store in the refrigerator.
Makes approximately 1 pint.