Fresh Vegetables


by Rose Grant

Peas with crunch add a special feeling to an ordinary side dish. Sugar snaps used to be available just in the summer, but now you can get them throughout the year.
1 1/2 lb. sugar snap peas
1 tbs. olive oil
2-3 shallots, chopped
2-3 oz. prosciutto, imported preferred, fat trimmed, chopped salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs. chopped fresh mint
Steam sugar snap peas for 3 to 4 minutes until just tender-crisp; do not overcook. Just before serving, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until limp. Add sugar snap peas, prosciutto, salt and pepper and sauté for 2 minutes. Top with fresh mint and serve.

This quick-to-fix recipe is a wonderful summer mix. The proportions are not important, but try to get some of each vegetable for the color variety. Remove corn kernels from the cob by slicing down with a sharp knife. Fresh garden tomatoes make this dish even more special.
1/2 lb. or more shelled fresh green peas, or 1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen petite peas, thawed
1 tbs. butter
1 tbs. corn oil
2 large shallots, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 lb. fresh white or wild mushrooms, sliced
3 cups fresh corn, from about 4 ears corn
1/2 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs. chopped fresh dill
2 garden tomatoes, cut into wedges,optional
If using fresh peas, cook in boiling water until barely tender, about 8 to 10 minutes; drain. Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan. Add shallots and sauté for about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and sauté for about 1 minute. Add corn, peas, sugar, salt and pepper and cook until corn and peas are very tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Top with fresh dill and tomatoes, if using, and serve immediately.

This makes a hearty appetizer with bread or crackers or a satisfying sandwich filling for pita bread. The eggplant can also be cooked in a microwave if you are pressed for time: pierce the eggplant with a fork, place it on paper towels and cook on HIGH for about 20 minutes.
2 large eggplants
2 tbs. olive or vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped, optional
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 cup water, or more if needed
2 tbs. brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. mixed dried Italian herbs
Heat oven to 350°. Prick eggplants with a fork in several places. Place eggplants on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, or until very tender. Cool and remove skin. Coarsely mash eggplant flesh. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, peppers and celery, if using, and sauté for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add mashed eggplant and cook for a few more minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, stirring often. Add more water if mixture seems too dry; mixture should be thick. Serve cold or at room temperature.

This is a great summer standby when beans and tomatoes are at their peak. It works almost as well with drained canned tomatoes, but the beans should be fresh.
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 shallots, chopped
2 tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 lb. thin green beans, ends trimmed
3-4 ripe Roma tomatoes, peeled
2 tbs. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs. chopped fresh dill
In a small skillet, sauté garlic and shallots in oil over medium heat until limp, about 3 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and pepper and simmer until beans are tender, about 5 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the tenderness of beans. Add chopped dill and serve immediately.

Here's a great summer dish for the times when you are awash with squash. It goes with just about anything and can be served cold. Using both dried and fresh herbs intensifies the herbal flavor.
3 tbs. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 yellow crookneck squash, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. mixed dried mint, marjoram and parsley, or more to taste
chopped fresh herbs for garnish, optional
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until limp, about 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except fresh herbs, and sauté until vegetables are tender-crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Top with fresh herbs, if using, and serve immediately.

This is an all-purpose vegetable and rice dish to accompany chicken or meats. Or, it can be a vegetarian meal. Leftovers make a filling lunch.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 lb. zucchini, peeled if outer skin is tough, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups milk
1 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. mixed dried Italian herbs, or more to taste
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup long-grain rice
In a skillet, heat 2 tbs. of the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and sauté until limp. Add zucchini, salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Heat oven to 350°. In large bowl, pour 1 cup of the milk over breadcrumbs. Add remaining 2 tbs. oil, eggs, herbs and 2/3 cup of the cheese. Add zucchini mixture and rice to bowl, mix well and transfer to an oiled gratin dish. Pour remaining milk and Parmesan over the top and bake for 1 hour, until eggs are set.

From Fresh Vegetables by Rose Grant. Copyright 1998 Bristol Publishing Enterprises. Excerpted by arrangement with Bristol Publishing Enterprises. $8.95. Available in local bookstores, or call 510-895-4461; outside California, call 800-346-4889.