Su Lum: Summer recipes
The Farmer’s Market is going full tilt and it’s hard to imagine life without sweet corn and ripe tomatoes. I always buy a baggie of basil (about two cups) and make a new supply of fresh pesto, a favorite at The Aspen Times.
Pesto takes about five minutes to make, and is best fresh and green. Pour about a half cup of olive oil into a blender, add a large clove of garlic cut into a few pieces, half a teaspoon or so of salt and a half cup of pine nuts. Blend, then start feeding the basil into the chopper, a handful at a time, adding more oil if it’s too stiff. Add about a half cup of grated Parmesan cheese and presto, pesto!
A great new booth at the market is Amigas. If I ever have to order a last meal, let it be in summer when I can request a beef tamale and a chili relleno from Amigas and an ear of sweet corn, cooked in its husk in the microwave for four minutes.
Cut cooked corn from the cob, add quartered sugar snap peas (boiled for two minutes, then plunged into cold water), toss with a little lettuce and sesame seed dressing from the Woodward Farm booth at the market, and you have a summer salad and vegetable dish in one.
This is the perfect time for gazpacho, with all the veggie ingredients grown locally except the celery. Blend a big clove of garlic, a peeled cucumber, a green pepper, an onion, salt, 3 tablespoons of vinegar, half a cup of olive oil, and a few stalks of celery with a couple of peeled tomatoes or a cup of tomato juice. Set aside.
Blend 8-10 peeled ripe tomatoes, add to the first mixture and stir. Gazpacho can be served as a cold soup, a chopped salad, or your own version of V-8 juice, depending on how much you blend it. If you like it hot, add jalapenos or other hot peppers to taste. You can’t miss.
Here’s a quick tip for freezing peaches from Melody Durham: cut peaches in half, dip the halves in orange juice, put into a zip-lock bag and freeze. She uses them for smoothies, so leave the skin on, but you can also drop them in boiling water and skin them first.
My favorite discovery, which I’ve been overdosing on all summer, is baked tomatoes. This is my version of a recipe from Polly Pollard. Skin (drop in boiling water) however many tomatoes will, when cut in half, fit snugly into a baking dish. Place them cut side up, and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar.
Peel some fresh white onions from the market, cut them in half, and put them where there are spaces between the tomatoes.
Grate about a cup of bread crumbs for every four tomatoes (eight halves). Soft bread crumbs work better than dry and hamburger buns grate well. Mix the crumbs with an equal amount of Parmesan cheese and sprinkle evenly on the tomatoes.
Using a garlic press, press one or two large cloves of garlic into half a cup of olive oil, stir and spoon the mixture (evenly) over the tomatoes. Then here’s the kicker: bake them, uncovered, at 400 degrees for an HOUR. That is not a typo. Anything less and they will be a watery mess. Serve them hot, warm or cold. However many you bake, it will not be enough.
To enhance those succulent cantaloupes, try this peculiar recipe for a delicious poppy seed dressing. Blend until smooth: a half cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of dry mustard, a teaspoon of salt, 1/3 cup of vinegar (rice or white), and a quarter of a medium-sized white onion. Slowly blend in a cup of olive or canola oil (or a mixture of both), then stir in two tablespoons of poppy seeds. Spoon over cubes of melon, any berries and/or bananas. Yum.
[Su Lum is a longtime local who probably left out a few ingredients. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times]
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High Points: Now I don’t want to be an apologist for the Aspen Skiing Company, but to me $199 to ski the crown jewel of American skiing during the height of what is traditionally the busiest time of year is a total bargain.