Make the Most of August Produce

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I love late August! Farmers markets and backyard gardens are jumping, offering the summer’s best yield.

Think of crisp string beans, firm cucumbers, plump tomatoes, sweet corn on the cob, summer squash, baby eggplants and big, round berries.

I buy bunches of basil, parsley, dill and mint. Whatever I don’t use in a couple of days, I chop, place in individual Ziplock bags and store in the freezer. I recently discovered you can cut uncooked corn off the cob and freeze it, preserving the best of summer far into the fall.

August is the last full month of summer. By mid-September, there’s a nip in the air and the angle of the sun has tipped toward autumn. Of course, it is feasible to find many of the same local fruits and veggies in September, but they won’t be quite as juicy and delicious.

So, while a cornucopia of summer produce is available, I joyously fill my shopping basket with foods that flourish in the sun’s last strong rays of the year, relying on recipes that are as easy to prepare as lounging on a hammock during Sunday afternoons in August.

Grilled Baby Eggplants | Pareve
Serves 4-6

Nonstick vegetable spray
3 baby eggplants, peeled and sliced about ¼-inch thick
¼ cup olive oil, or more if needed
Kosher salt to taste
¼ teaspoon garlic powder, or more if needed

Equipment: a barbecue grill and a vegetable grill basket

Preheat your barbecue grill.

Place the eggplant slices on a plate. Pour the olive oil into a small bowl. Dip a pastry brush in the oil and coat the top side of the eggplant slices with oil. (If you don’t have a pastry brush, drizzle on oil with a teaspoon.) Sprinkle on salt and garlic powder. Turn the eggplant slices over and repeat on the other side.

Lightly coat your grill basket with nonstick vegetable spray. Move the prepared eggplant slices to the grill basket. Place the grill basket on the grill rack. Grill the eggplants for 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through and crisping. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Barbecued Corn on the Cob | Pareve
Serves 6

Nonstick vegetable spray
6 ears of fresh corn on the cob
Kosher salt to taste

Equipment: a barbecue grill and barbecue tongs

Before preheating, spray the rack of your grill with nonstick vegetable spray. Preheat your barbecue grill.

Remove the husks from the corn and discard. Place the corn on the grill. Using barbecue tongs, turn the corn about every two minutes so that all sides are exposed to the grill’s flame. Grill for about 10 minutes, or until the corn is caramelized and golden to slightly brown.

Remove the corn from the grill and sprinkle salt on all sides. Serve immediately.

Mixed Tomatoes and Herb Salad | Pareve
Serves 4-6

2½ pounds tomatoes in a variety of colors (red, orange, yellow, etc.)
⅛ cup basil leaves, chopped
⅛ cup dill fronds, chopped
⅛ cup chives, chopped

Core and slice tomatoes thin. Arrange them on an attractive platter, overlapping the colors. Sprinkle the basil, dill and chives over the tomatoes. Reserve.

¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Place all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk them together until they are well combined. Slowly drizzle the dressing over the tomatoes. Serve immediately or within a couple of hours.

Berry Delight | Dairy or Pareve
Serves 6

1 pint vanilla ice cream, or coconut or lemon sorbet
3 cups assorted: blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries
6 sprigs of mint
6 gingersnap cookies (store bought)
Optional: Glass bowls show off this stunning summer dessert to advantage.

Into each of six bowls, scoop 2 heaping tablespoons of ice cream or sorbet. Arrange the berries attractively over the ice cream or sorbet. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of ice cream or sorbet over the berries.

Top with a generous sprig of mint. Slide a ginger snap into the ice cream or sorbet at an attractive angle. Serve immediately.


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