Tomatoes and peppers are (finally) available in the farmers markets! So if you've been waiting for them, go to it! All the "summer produce" is officially available.
...Except melons. Understandably, those have a longer growing season, so it may be a couple more weeks before we see bins full of watermelons and such, but...
Right now there's a plethora of cucumbers, zucchini and yellow summer squash, eggplant and tomatoes, green beans and yellow beans. And of course, there is all the summer stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots).
This Wednesday we came home with blackberries (huge blackberries--the size of a quarter), strawberries, peaches, apricots, green bell peppers and carrots. (Not a lot of veggies, I know. We've got some left over from last week and our garden is producing cucumbers, chard and corn right now, so we're taken care of in that department.)
Do you grill vegetables? I am not much of a grill-er; they always seem to burn, but in midsummer, isn't that all you want to eat? A meal completely from the grill with an ice-cold-something-or-other to accompany it? ...Or maybe all you really want is the ice-cold something-or-other, but since there are other people in the house, you have to cook something.
So last night we attempted Grilled Vegetables again. And this time we did it right. With the heat on medium-low everything cooked in under ten minutes (regardless of what my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook said). Hint: watch your veggies carefully and par-boil* things like carrots or potatoes until crisp-tender, then grill just a few minutes to add some delicious char flavor.
We grilled one bell pepper (halved) and three par-boiled carrots, along with one roundish yellow summer squash (in 3/4" diagonal slices, a small white onion (halved horizontally) and four ears of corn from our garden (shucked). (Our corn is pretty small and many of the kernels are not maturing, so the amount of corn was probably equivalent to one normal-sized ear.)
Cut veggies into pieces that are big enough so that they won't fall through the grate. You can always cut them smaller later. Rub veggies with cooking oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper before grilling. Because sizes and temperatures vary, keep an eye on the vegetables while they grill. You want some char, but you don't want burnt. The outside of the bell pepper will blacken; don't be intimidated. Peel off most of the blackened skin and save the soft, smoky flesh.
Chop the grilled vegetables into bite-sized pieces and combine with dressing. The creamy, cheese-and-herb-spiked dressing pairs nicely with the outdoors-y char.
Creamy Cojita Dressing
This dressing adds a nice element to grilled vegetables and also adds a welcome "cooling element" to spicy shredded meat tacos. Makes about 1/2 cup dressing.
In a small bowl crumble about one ounce cojita cheese. Stir in 1/4 cup plain yogurt (you could sub mayo if you don't have yogurt on hand), and a small handful minced cilantro, parsley and onion, and maybe one (smashed and thoroughly minced) garlic clove, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper and maybe a pinch of ground cumin. Thin the dressing with the juice of one lime. Let sit 15 minutes for the flavors to blend.
*Parboil: "Partially cook by boiling." Heat salted water to boiling on your stove top, add veggies and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes for whole farmers market-sized carrots. Rinse veggies in cool water to stop the cooking process.