Summer is practically here, and now is the perfect time to enjoy fresh vegetables. My family enjoyed “farm to table” meals long before it was the cool thing to do. North Alabama, thankfully, has a long growing season. Everyone either has a vegetable garden of their own or friends who will share their bounty. That makes summer the ideal time to enjoy tasty and healthy vegetables.
SUMMER VEGETABLE SOUP
If you would like a vegetarian soup, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and omit the cream added at the end. Here are two delicious versions with one recipe. Feel free to mix/match the vegetables you and your diners like. This recipe includes some of our favorites.
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 large yellow onion, chopped
• 1 green bell pepper, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Several grinds of black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
• 3 tablespoons tomato paste
• 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
• 2 large carrots, chopped
• 1 small savoy cabbage, cored, quartered and then thinly sliced
• 2 medium zucchini, quartered and chopped
• 3 cups broccoli, florets
• 1 bunch asparagus, thick ends removed, and spears cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1 cup small pasta (your choice!)
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 2/3 cup heavy cream (optional)
In a medium Dutch oven, over medium heat, add olive oil, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and Herbes de Provence. Stirring occasionally, let vegetables soften for about 10 minutes or so. Spoon in tomato paste and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add stock, carrots, cabbage and zucchini. Bring to a soft simmer and let cook for about 10 more minutes. Add broccoli, asparagus and pasta. Lower heat to low. When pasta is cooked to al dente, about 6 to 7 minutes, your dinner is ready. Add lemon juice just before serving.
If using cream, stir in and allow to heat through without boiling.
ASPARAGUS AND TOMATO PIZZA
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1 lb. asparagus spears, trim the ends if they’re tough
• 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes halved
• 1 tube refrigerated pizza dough or a store-bought crust
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
• 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
• 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
• Chopped fresh basil for garnishing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If you’re using a baking stone, preheat it in the oven.
Combine the olive oil and garlic. Place the asparagus and tomatoes in a medium bowl and pour about half of the garlic oil over the veggies and toss to coat.
Carefully spread the pizza dough or place the store bought crust on the pizza stone.
Brush the dough with the remaining half of the garlic oil. Place the asparagus spears onto the crust in a circular pattern and then spoon over the tomatoes.
Sprinkle with the oregano and chives and then top with the Parmesan.
Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes until the crust is browned and the cheese has melted. Top with chopped fresh basil.
Laura Tolbert, also known as Fleur de Lolly, has been sharing recipes, table decor ideas and advice for fellow foodies and novices on her blog, fleurdelolly.blogspot.com for more than eight years. You can contact her at facebook.com/fleurde.lolly.5, on Instagram and at firstname.lastname@example.org.