Summer harvests give many pleasures. There are the tastes of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, string beans and zucchini, but just as wonderful are the colors of these and other summer vegetables. Red, orange, yellow, green, purple, intense jewel colors both in the harvest basket and the serving dish.
Last weekend, with the first generous harvest of tomatoes, I layered slices of purple/red Cherokee Purple, orange Jaune de Flamme and Orange Paruche cherry tomato in a large bowl, garnishing them with green and purple basil. A pleasure to create, but the bigger treat was taking this summer bounty to a dinner with friends.
Early this week, I made a favorite zucchini recipe I first wrote about in 2011, Roasted Zucchini with Ricotta and Mint. The occasional changes I’ve made to this wonderful recipe over the years are to omit the ricotta sometimes or substitute goat cheese and to add more fresh herbs with the mint. This time, I omitted cheese altogether and added flower heads from dill and cilantro and leaves of green and purple basil along with the mint. These fresh herb flavors complemented the flavors of cumin and fennel seeds and red pepper flakes roasted with the zucchini, and lemon juice added just before serving brightened all the flavors. Finally, I steamed some of the last Sugar Snap peas and used them to crown this lovely summer salad.
Dark red and orange beets and purple and orange carrots are kitchen garden standbys that lend themselves to salads year-round.
Yesterday morning, I steamed a harvest of beets and carrots, caramelized some fennel and composed a colorful cold salad that I dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. Made with warm vegetables, this salad would add to a winter meal, but cold it was perfect for summer.
Color in the kitchen garden isn’t only in the vegetables but also in the blooming flowers and herbs scattered throughout the garden beds. Pausing to take in this beauty is an ongoing pleasure of the summer kitchen garden.