Column: Susan McClanahan: Plenty of fresh-vegetable recipes

Can you get enough fresh vegetables during the summer? I know we sure can’t.

We were going to have a couple of friends over recently, and I told them what I was preparing, which included green beans and new potatoes, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers in vinegar, pickled beets, corn on the cob, cornbread and peaches for dessert. He said, “No meat?” and I quickly responded, “No!” During this time of the year, no meat is required for a delicious supper from the garden. To finish the story, he brought fried chicken from a local grocery store to complete the meal.

Today, I am including some recipes to help you enjoy so much garden produce right now.

Be sure to go online to read the entire column, as there will be many recipes that you’ll see there and not printed. Enjoy!

Watermelon Salsa Recipe

* 1 1/2 teaspoons lime zest, from about 1 lime

* 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, from about 3 limes

* 1 tablespoon sugar, or use honey

* Freshly ground pepper

* 3 cups seeded and finely chopped watermelon

* 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

* 1 mango, peeled and diced

* 1 to 2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

* 1 small red onion, finely chopped

* 8 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped (optional: use cilantro)

* 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

* Tortilla or pita chips, for serving

Stir together the lime zest, lime juice, sugar (or honey); lightly salt and pepper.

Add the watermelon, cucumber, mango, jalapeno, onion and basil (or cilantro) and toss gently.

Chill the salsa until ready to serve. Add the garlic salt just before serving. Serve with pita chips or corn chips, or serve on top of steak, chicken, pork, or fish.


Mexican Roasted Zucchini

* 4 small zucchinis, chopped in quarters

* 2 tablespoons olive oil

* 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

* 1 teaspoon garlic powder

* 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

* 1/2 teaspoon cumin

* Salt and pepper to taste

* 1/3 cup queso fresco or cotija cheese

* 1 to 2 tablespoons cilantro minced

* 1 wedge lime to squeeze on top

Heat the oven to 425 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Prepare the zucchini by slicing in half, then slice each half in half and chop. Do not make too small, more like 3/4- to 1-inch pieces or they will cook too quickly and turn too mushy.

Place the zucchini in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil and all of the seasonings.

Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender and beginning to brown on the undersides.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with cheese, cilantro and a squeeze of lime so as to evenly distribute everything. Now place in a large bowl for serving.

Notes: Best eaten the same day. This recipe cannot be made in advance, but it can be prepped in advance. Even tossing the zucchini with spices a few hours before and storing in the fridge.


Okra Hoecakes

Okra Hoecakes- the classic southern recipe is even tastier with thin slices of okra added to the batter. A must make way to eat hoecakes during the summer when fresh okra is plentiful.

* 1 1/2 cups self-rising yellow cornmeal

* 1/2 cup self-rising flour

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 3/4 cup buttermilk

* 1/4 cup vegetable oil

* 2 large eggs

* 1 cup thinly sliced okra

* Vegetable oil or butter for frying

In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour and salt.

Whisk together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, and eggs in a large liquid measuring cup or bowl.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until the dry ingredients are completely moistened.

Stir in the okra.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. (You can use nonstick if you don’t have cast iron.)

When hot add a little vegetable oil or butter.

Working in batches so as to not crowd the pan, use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to drop batter into pan and form hoecakes. Cook for two to three minutes and then flip over and cook another two minutes or so.

Add a little more oil or butter to the pan as needed to cook all the batter.

Serve with butter or drizzled with cane syrup.

Notes: Be sure to thinly slice the okra or it will taste raw in the finished hoecakes.


Fresh Peach Crumb Bars

This simple, easy recipe can be adapted to any of your favorite fresh summer fruits!

For the crust:

* 1 cup granulated sugar

* 3 cups all-purpose flour

* 1 teaspoon baking powder

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* 1 cup unsalted butter cold, cut into cubes

* 1 large egg lightly beaten

For the peach layer:

* 1/2 cup granulated sugar

* 1 tablespoon cornstarch

* 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* 5 large peaches, peeled and diced (about 4 to 5 cups)

* 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

For the icing: (optional)

* 1 cup powdered sugar

* 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

* 1 tablespoon milk (more or less for desired consistency)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees if using a glass pan, or 375 degrees for a metal pan. Lightly grease or spray a 13-inch-by-9-inch baking pan and set aside.

For the crust: In a medium bowl whisk together 1 cup of sugar, 3 cups flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Using a pastry cutter, blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the lightly beaten egg and mix until the dough starts to hold together but is still crumbly. Gently press a little more than half the dough into the prepared pan.

Optional: you can also process the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the egg and pulse until the dough starts to hold together.

For the peach mixture: In a large mixing bowl whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Add the diced peaches and toss to combine. Drizzle the lemon juice over the peaches and toss to coat. Pour the peach mixture over the crust and spread evenly.

Using your hands, press together handfuls of the remaining crumb topping to create clumps. Scatter the clumps and remaining crumbled topping over the fruit layer leaving some peaches showing through.

If using a glass pan, bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until lightly browned. If using a metal pan, bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool completely then chill before cutting and icing.

To prepare the icing: Whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract and milk. Drizzle on the bars just before serving.

Notes: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for best results.


Squash Casserole

* 4 tablespoons butter

* 1/3 cup diced yellow onion

* 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

* 4 cups diced yellow squash

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

* 1 cup Duke’s mayonnaise

* 2 eggs, lightly beaten

* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

* 3/4 cup freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese

* 1 sleeve buttery crackers (Ritz), crushed

* 2 tablespoons melted butter

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions, stir frequently, and let cook until softened, about two to three minutes. Add garlic, squash, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently until squash has softened, five to seven minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch-by-8-inch or similar sized casserole dish with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, eggs, parsley, and cheddar cheese. Fold in squash mixture until everything is well combined.

Spoon into casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with crushed crackers. Drizzle with melted butter and return to oven for five to seven minutes until crackers have browned.


Cantaloupe Pie

* 1 medium cantaloupe

* 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

* 1/4 cup sugar

* 2 (1/4 ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin

* 1/2 cup orange juice

* 9 inches graham cracker crust, chilled

* Cool Whip Topping

* Cantaloupe, balls for garnish

Peel and seed the melon, cut in chunks and process in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Pour into a large mixing bowl; set aside.

Combine 1/2 melon puree and cream cheese in blender. Process until smooth. Add to remaining puree and set aside.

Combine sugar, gelatin and orange juice in a small saucepan. Cook on low heat, stirring until sugar and gelatin dissolve.

Slowly add to melon mixture, stirring well. Pour into crust. Chill until firm.

Garnish pie with Cool Whip and melon balls and a sprig of mint, if desired.


Avocado, Mozzarella, and Tomato Grilled Cheese

One of the best inventions ever, using fresh, garden-ripened tomatoes!

* 1/2 avocado (sliced)

* 4 slices mozzarella cheese

* 4 thick slices of fresh tomatoes or cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)

* 2 slices multigrain bread

* A dab of butter

Butter the outside layers of the bread. Place one slice, buttered side down in a frying pan -heated at medium heat. Layer the cheese, tomato and then the avocado.

Place the other slice of bread on top- butter up. Flip after a few minutes. Cook each side until golden on the outside, gooey in the inside.


Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad

Our classic cucumber and tomato salad just got better with the addition of avocado, a lemon dressing and fresh cilantro.

* 1 pound Roma tomatoes

* 1 English cucumber

* 1/2 medium red onion, sliced

* 2 avocados, diced

* 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil

* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, (from 1 medium lemon)

* 1/4 cup 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

* 1 teaspoon sea salt or 3/4 teaspoon table salt

* 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, adjust to desired amount

Place chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumber, sliced red onion, diced avocado, and chopped cilantro into a large salad bowl.

Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Toss gently to combine. Just before serving, toss with 1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

Note: if you aren’t keen on cilantro, fresh dill is a good substitute


Country Green Beans with Ham and Potatoes

Green beans, slow stewed in a ham broth, with chunks of torn ham or Tasso and potatoes, and served with a flavorful pot likker.

* 2 quarts water

* 2 meaty smoked ham hocks or ham bone

* 2 pounds fresh green beans

* 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon or base (like Better than Bouillon)

* 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste

* 1 cup chopped onion

* 3/4 cup country ham, Tasso, or baked ham, pulled or chopped, optional

* 1 pound red-skinned potatoes, chopped into chunks (about 3-4 medium)

* 1/4 teaspoon of Creole or Cajun seasoning, or to taste, optional

* Salt and pepper, to taste

* 1 tablespoon of butter or bacon fat, to finish, optional

Fill pot with water and add ham bone or hocks. Bring to a boil, reduce to a medium boil and cook for 30 minutes. Reserve water, skimming off any accumulated foam.

Meanwhile, rinse, trim and snap green beans in half or thirds. Add to pot, along with chicken base, pepper and onion, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a very low simmer, and cook, uncovered for 1 hour.

Remove hocks and set aside, once cool enough to handle, pull any meat off and add to pot.

Add potatoes and continue cooking until tender, about 25 minutes.

Taste, add Cajun seasoning, if using, and taste again, adjusting for salt and pepper.

Finish by stirring in the butter or bacon fat, if desired, and transfer with some of the pot likker to a serving bowl.

Notes: I start with water and add chicken base to the beans, however you may certainly use all chicken broth. Remember, these beans are slow stewed, not boiled. They need to remain on a very bare simmer the entire cooking time – do not let them boil.

Use fresh, raw green beans only for this recipe, not frozen or canned. May substitute peeled Russets or your favorite potato, such as Yukon Gold.

Tasso is highly seasoned and country ham is highly salty. Do not add any additional salt until you taste the beans. Freeze any leftover pot likker that doesn’t get eaten to use in other recipes, like beans, soups and stews. Chopped andouille, or other smoked sausage may be substituted for the ham or Tasso.

For the Slow Cooker: Prepare as above allowing ham bone or pork hocks to cook in water for 4 to 5 hours on high. Remove and pull meat, returning to slow cooker along with remaining ingredients and enough water or chicken broth to cover, plus an inch. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours, or to desired tenderness. Taste and add Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper as needed; stir in butter.


Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Soft zucchini cake frosted with a rich, tangy cream cheese frosting – the best way to eat zucchini this summer!

Cake ingredients:

* 1 cup zucchini shredded

* 1 cup sugar

* 1/2 cup oil

* 2 eggs

* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

* 1 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting Ingredients

* 3 ounces cream cheese softened

* 4 tablespoons butter softened

* 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or cream

* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

* 2 cups powdered sugar

Cake directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the zucchini, sugar, oil and eggs. Combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a separate bowl.

Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Spread the batter into the greased baking pan. Bake at 350 F. for 28-32 minutes. Cool completely.

Frosting directions: Beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the milk, vanilla and powdered sugar. Spread onto cool cake.

Notes: This recipe can easily be doubled for a 9 x 13-inch pan.


Cheesy Zucchini Quiche

This delicious zucchini quiche has a creamy savory egg mixture baked in a perfectly flaky crust. Layers of melted cheese and zucchini make the texture of this quiche cheesy and flavorful.

* 1 pre-made pie crust homemade or store-bought

* 4 large eggs

* 2 cups heavy cream

* 1 pound zucchini, sliced thin with skin on

* 1 1/4 cups mozzarella cheese shredded, divided (any cheese works)

* 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare your pie crust according to recipe directions or line a pie dish with a store-bought pie crust.

In a large skillet add olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add sliced zucchini and cook for 4-6 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the filling.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

To assemble to the pie, add 1 cup of shredded cheese to the bottom of the prepared crust. Layer the softened zucchini on top of the cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the zucchini and top with the remaining 1/4 cup shredded cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the center is set. If the crust edges begin to brown, use a pie shield or foil wrapped around the edge. Let the quiche sit for 15 minutes before slicing.


Old Fashioned Breaded Tomatoes

Also known as scalloped tomatoes or tomato pudding, fresh tomatoes are stewed down with a little onion, thickened with flour, lightly sweetened and tossed with toasted squares of bread, topped with cheese and baked. Great served with fried fish and mashed potatoes.

* 2 tablespoons butter, bacon fat, olive, vegetable or canola oil

* 1 cup of chopped Vidalia or yellow onion

* 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

* 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

* 1 pound of tomatoes, skinned, chopped, juices retained

* 1 tablespoon of light brown or granulated sugar, or to taste, optional

* 1 teaspoon of kosher salt

* 5 turns of the pepper grinder

* 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs (basil, flat leaf parsley, etc.), optional

* 3 slices of toasted white bread, cut into 1-inch squares

* 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, optional

* Extra butter, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the fat in a large skillet and saute the onion until tender but not browned. Add butter and melt; stir in the flour, cooking and stirring for about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sugar and low simmer, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes.

Add the bread cubes, season with salt, pepper and herbs; taste and adjust as needed.

Transfer to a buttered baking dish, top with about a cup of shredded cheddar cheese and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.

Top individual servings with a pat of butter and serve immediately, alone as a vegetable side dish or served over rice or mashed potatoes. Goes wonderfully with fried fish and mashed potatoes.

Notes: May also serve this dish right out of the skillet without baking. Just before ready to serve, stir in the toasted bread squares, or place the bread into individual serving dishes and spoon tomatoes over the top. If you have day old rolls or biscuits, use them for this recipe, but break them apart into chunks and toast them first; may also substitute fresh, toasted breadcrumbs if preferred.

Okay to substitute 1 large (28 ounce) can of whole tomatoes, chopped, juices retained (use your kitchen shears to chop them right in the can) or 2 (14-1/2 ounce) cans of undrained, diced tomatoes. Omit bread for basic stewed tomatoes.

Experiment with additional seasonings blends, including those intended for dry rubs. They add a bit of a smokey flavor to the tomatoes. A couple slices of cooked, chopped bacon added just before you toss in the bread will only make these all the better.

Add a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar.

Tomato Dumplings: Prepare as above for stewed tomatoes. Mix 1/2 cup baking mix with 2 tablespoons milk, adding up to one additional tablespoon to make a sticky dough. Drop on top of tomatoes, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until dumplings are cooked through.


Have a great week, and until next time, happy cooking.