Grilled cilantro lime corn cooked on the grill with some butter and salt. Oh my lawd! Life is good.
Some recipes just sort of happen, like this one. We had corn on the cob languishing in the refrigerator. Mannie had just started the grill. And I was poking my head in and out of the frig trying to figure out what to cook with the steaks. If it had been just me, dinner would have been steak and wine. But, since I am trying to set a better eating example than that for my child, and Mannie doesn’t drink wine, I knew I needed at least one vegetable.
I pulled out the package of corn I bought. Some years we grow corn. This year we were kinda busy opening Mingos Nursery & Garden Center so a lot of things didn’t get planted.
A brief note about growing corn.
Corn is pretty easy to grow but tends to blow over if not supported. Farmers and larger scale gardeners take care of the problem of the corn stalks blowing over by planting a LOT of corn in a tight space, often in those tidy rows that make me happy. I am unable to plant anything in tidy rows, not for lack of trying however. When planted tightly together, the corn supports itself. But tightly planted plants of any type can have pest and disease issues that get out of hand before you notice.
When we grow corn we will grow it along a fence where it can be tied back as it gets tall and top heavy or in a spot that is sheltered from the wind. Corn is also a heavy feeder meaning you want to have a lot of composted organic matter in the soil and even then you may need to feed it regularly with a liquid fertilizer.
But back to the recipe.
So I pulled the corn out of the frig, put it on the counter and sort of stared at it. Most dinner preparation starts this way for me. Maybe someday I will learn to plan meals (…doubtful…). As I was meditating on the corn I noticed the limes on the counter and was inspired. With cilantro from the garden, some course salt, and a little butter, we have a vegetable dish. Scroll down for the recipe!
Ready for a different type of cooking project? Then you need to try making fire roasted peppers!
Each year we grow all kinds of different peppers. We have several types of sweet bell peppers, both hot and sweet banana peppers, along with jalapeno, Serrano, and cayenne. And of course there are one or two (or maybe more) mystery pepper plants that were brought home from the Mingos Nursery & Garden Center because they were unhappy or tag-less. Peppers are very easy to grow in the hot summers of Texas because pepper plants love hot soil. That means we get a lot of peppers each summer. Each summer I stuff them, sautée them, pickle them, hot sauce them, and add them to everything I can think of.
When there are so many peppers sitting on the kitchen island I can’t make dinner (because they won’t fit in the refrigerator for all the cucumbers), I need a good way to use them up before they go bad. One of my favorite ways to use up a lot of peppers quickly is to make fire roasted peppers. Fire roasting brings out a wonderful flavor in the peppers as well as adding a little smokiness.
All you need is a flame, some peppers, tongs, and a paper bag. For these pictures I used the flame on my gas cook top. A gas grill or even a camp stove would also work… of course do those outside.
To fire roast a pepper, turn on the flame and drop a pepper or two into the fire. You will probably want to turn your hood fan on high and maybe even open a window; this can get a little smoky.
Your goal is to blister and blacken the peppers’ skin. You do not need to turn the skin into a dark grey ash as I have seen some people do. As the peppers blacken you will hear them popping a bit. Do not panic, the pepper is not going to explode. That is the sound the seeds make as they cook. It sounds a bit like popcorn popping.
As each side of the pepper blackens, keep turning the peppers to let the flame reach all sides. Word of caution, don’t walk away during this process. Trust me.
Once a pepper is blackened, drop it into a paper bag and close the bag up. Keep adding peppers to the bag until they are all fire roasted. Let the peppers cool in the bag with the top closed. This allows the peppers to steam and the skin to loosen.
Once cool, you will remove the blackened skin by rubbing the peppers with your fingers or a paper towel. If you roasted hot peppers you may want to wear gloves for this part. You also may want to keep a bowl of water handy to clean off your fingers. Try to resist the urge to wash off the peppers because that will wash off a lot of the smoky flavor.
Once the skin is removed, cut the pepper in half lengthwise and carefully remove the veins and seeds.
Now what? There are a huge number of things you can do with these fire roasted pepper filets. Use them in salsa or in bruschetta. Add them to a salad or to top a pizza. They make a yummy soup too.
A great way to use these roasted peppers is to marinate them. The marinated peppers are so flavorful! We use them on sandwiches, toss them in salads and pasta, or just eat them as is. Here is the recipe I use but feel free to try your own. Below, there is a tool that will let you print out the recipe cleanly.
Marinated Fire Roasted Peppers
Fire roasted peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
pinch of kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed then diced
1 teaspoon prepared mustard (it helps keep the oil and vinegar mixed together longer)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or basil (optional), if you use fresh make it 1 Tbls finely chopped
In a glass jar mix all the ingredients together well. Close lid and shake until combined.
Store in refrigerator for at least an hour shaking occasionally. You need to try this!
This recipe is one of my family’s summer favorites. No cooking time involved so no heating up the kitchen. It uses three different vegetables we grow; cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. All three are in abundance at the same time making this very simple to put together and economical too. And did I mention that this super tasty marinated cucumber salad is also super healthy?
We grew all these vegetables in our little backyard garden. If you haven’t grown onions before, you need to start. Onions are very simple to grow, have few pest or disease problems, and taste so much better than what you buy in the store. This year we grew three varieties of onions, all with different flavors. And yes, different types of onions taste different. Some are sweet. Some are very hot and spicy. And many are right in between. Mingos Nursery & Garden Center can help get you started with onions or any other vegetables you would like to try.
By the way, while all of those cucumbers came from my backyard garden, we did not actually plant any cucumbers this year. There are three different varieties growing out there, all of which volunteered to come up from seed. We have an heirloom lemon cucumber (it grows little yellow round cucumbers which are pretty sour by cucumber standards), straight 8, and some form of pickling cucumber that I cannot remember specifically from last year.
Don’t tell anyone but apparently I was not diligent enough with cleaning up the fall garden. Some cucumbers had hidden very well under all the vines apparently decayed away last year, planting this year’s cucumber seeds for us. I do not regret this situation at all. But I cannot in good conscience recommend this practice as poor fall clean up can lead to many unexpected pest and disease problems in the spring. So do as I say but not as I do.
But back to the recipe. There is a tool below that will let you print out the recipe in a nice tidy format.
Peal and slice 4-6 cucumbers. I often cut the cucumbers into fourths lengthwise before cutting into slices. You will get 3-4 cups of cucumber slices. This is a great time to use up any “mutant” cucumbers.
Next chop 2-3 medium tomatoes. I like to cut the tomatoes into thin wedges.
Slice one small to medium red onion into rings about 1/4 inch thick.
Put all the vegetables into a large bowl or crock. They will marinate in this at least overnight.
Next make the marinade. I like to use a pint or quart mason jar with a lid but you can just add everything to the vegetables and mix well. For the marinade, mix 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 cup of red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2 Tablespoons of sugar. Put the lid on the jar and shake until mixed. Poor the marinade over the vegetables and cover with plastic wrap.
Put the vegetables in the refrigerator overnight. Enjoy!
Roasted tomatoes are super simple to make and very healthy. What could be better?
This is a great recipe for using up a LOT of extra tomatoes. I change up the flavor of this dish by adding other herbs like thyme or basil. Try tossing in fresh chopped basil leaves instead of the Parmesan cheese. Roasted tomatoes also make a great pasta sauce base. The tomatoes become sweet and lose much of their acidic taste as they caramelize. Even people who generally do not like tomatoes will love these.
The measurements listed below are all approximate. This recipe is extremely forgiving and can be made in larger batches easily.
A recipe card can be printed out below.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Step 2: Slice tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Cherry and grape tomatoes can just be cut in half. Larger tomatoes will need to be cut into several pieces. You are looking for 1 to 2 inch slices no more than half an inch thick.
This next step is optional, but if you are using really juicy slicing tomatoes, this will help the tomatoes roast in the oven rather than steam. Lay your tomato slices out on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let the tomatoes rest this way for 10 minutes or so. This will allow extra water to be absorbed by the paper towels. If you add salt at this step, skip adding the salt in Step 3 below.
Step 3: Put the sliced tomatoes into a mixing bowl. Add olive oil to tomatoes. In a small bowl mix the salt and garlic powder together then add to tomatoes and olive oil. Use a spoon to mix. You want each tomato slice to be coated in oil.
Step 4: Move the tomatoes to a baking dish. If using, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Step 5: Bake for 30 minutes. Thicker slices or juicier tomatoes may require additional time.
We often have these as a side dish. Sometimes I add them to pasta or rice dishes.
This is the time of year I just love. Summer garden abundance fills my kitchen with fresh produce every year. Several times a week I visit the vegetable garden to see what is ready to harvest. Of course there are other times I am in the garden for maintenance purposes only. A well prepared vegetable garden really should not take a huge amount of time to maintain, just a little weeding (sometimes… sometimes not) the right amount of water, and food. Your vegetable plants are using up a huge amount of nutrients to create healthy produce for you. Give your food plants a boost with some compost or a quality organic plant food, both of which you can pick up at Mingos Nursery & Garden Center.
As happens each year, we have reached that part of the growing season when daily visits to the garden are necessary just to stay on top of vegetable collecting. Ever seen a zucchini grow a foot in a day? OK maybe it wasn’t a foot, maybe it was more.
Right now my cucumber vines are turning out more cucumbers than I can count and the tomatoes are not far behind. The photo below is a cucumber, not a zucchini but it is nearly 10 inches long. It was hiding in the vines alone with several over ripe orange cucumbers.
All those yummy cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and other veggies get shared with neighbors and friends, However, every year there seems to come a time when people stop answering the door when we knock. Its like they don’t want to have to say “no” to free, fresh, and homegrown produce so they just don’t answer and hope the wagon moves on by. And yes, we have often filled our daughter’s little red wagon with produce to share with the neighbors.
So I thought I would share some of my favorite recipes made from our own homegrown vegetables. Perhaps this will inspire you to start your own garden this fall. There are a lot of cool weather vegetables that can take you up to the holidays or beyond depending upon your climate. The time to plan for your fall vegetable garden is now. If you need help, ideas, or simple encouragement come see us at Mingos Nursery & Garden Center.
In the next day or so I will start posting a few recipes and will add links to them at the bottom of this post.
Roasted Tomatoes is a great recipe for using up extra tomatoes.
Click the picture to go to the recipe.
Marinated Cucumber Salad is a no cook recipe for cucumbers, tomatoes and onions.
Click the picture to go to the recipe.
Fire Roasted Peppers can be added to so many dishes.
Click the picture to go to the recipe.
Grilled Cilantro Lime Corn
Click the picture to go to the recipe.