Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summers Jewels

Although some of the plants in the garden this year are from starts I bought at the nursery, most of them are either volunteers from last year or ones that I grew from seeds. It's a long haul from February or March when the seeds go into the little soil blocks and get to be cozy in the sunspace while they germinate and send up shoots and leaves, growing nice roots below soil, to late August when we are finally, finally getting ripe tomatoes. You would think that the cute brownish cherry tomatoes would ripen far earlier than the hefty Black Krim beefsteak type, but it seems they whispered at night and decided to keep me in suspense by ripening all together.

The very first was the Costuluto, ribbed like a pumpkin, bright fire engine red in color and with a true strong tomato taste. It went right into a salad. The next bunch were more Costuluto, a couple of Black Krims, a Brandywine and a handful of those cute cherry tomatoes. They were eaten by themselves, with just a touch of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper to highlight their natural fresh-from-the-garden flavors.

Now we have gotten enough that I was able to make a veggie casserole the other night. Layers of zucchini, tomato, fresh corn (from the market),

mushrooms, onions, thyme and lite Swiss cheese in a small dice filled a casserole. On top I put some more Swiss cheese, some Parmesan and chopped Italian parsley.

Baked together they created a fabulous dish full of the flavors and colors of summer garden jewels. This is a delicious combination and looked far better 'in person' because I forgot to take a photo once it was on the plate until Sweetie had almost finished his second helping...the last of the yummy veggie layers.

Although I do love to blog about bread and baked goodies, I'm really happy that this post, the 500th (hard to imagine that many!) is about my garden, since it is one of my enduring enthusiasms and always gives back more than I put into it, like the true friend that it is. Hope that you have a garden or will plant one soon. If you have one, hope that it is a happy garden, full of beauty and hope.

Summer in Layers
3 small yellow summer squash or zucchini ( or mixed) sliced
4 tomatoes, sliced, then cut into wedges
1 ear corn, fresh, yellow or white
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow or white onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 small bell pepper, removed from core and diced
¼ teaspoon dry thyme
salt and pepper
1 cup finely diced or shredded Swiss, Emthaler or Jarlsberg cheese
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

Butter a deep 2 quart casserole. Make a layer using half the zucchini or yellow squash, half the tomato wedges. Use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the cob of corn. Sprinkle the zucchini and tomatoes in the casserole with half the corn. Set aside

In a medium skillet, sauté the chopped onions, sliced mushrooms and chopped bell pepper until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring often to keep from sticking or over-browning. Sprinkle with the dried thyme and stir to combine. Spoon half of this mixture over the vegetables in the casserole and distribute evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle half the Swiss, Emanthaler or Jarlsberg cheese over.

Repeat layering process in the casserole, using the remaining squash, tomato, corn and onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper (I had additional squash slices, so I put on another layer and seasoned it.)Sprinkle on the remaining cheese. Sprinkle with all the Parmesan cheese and then the chopped parsley.

Bake uncovered in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until cheese melts and/or browns lightly. Serve hot. Serves 2-4 unless you dislike veggies...then maybe 6.


  1. We used to make a salad of black beans, white corn, and Sungold or Roma tomatoes that said "summer" to me. This looks lovely.

  2. This all looks amazing... Luckily, I am making my menu for next week and I think this is gonna make the list! I'm really enjoying the recipe ideas here!

  3. Can you believe my zucchinis didn't produce this year? Usually I can't give them away fast enough and this year there are none!

  4. Anonymous11:41 AM

    Mmm. Looks good. And I love the casserole dish. How beautiful!
    Love, Natasha

  5. It's posts like this that make me wish I had a garden to grow vegetables...AND a green thumb since my try at herbs didn't work out so well! This looks really good and a perfect end of summer meal.

  6. I remember when my mom (who really can't cook) used to whip up salads from whatever my father grew, but she would sort of ruin it by adding luncheon meats and drowning it in dressing lol I think if she baked it, it would have eliminated the need to drown it. I will be bookmarking this - it looks delicious, and what better way to use a homegrown bounty of veggies?

  7. How can one go wrong with all the wonderful summer goodness? A garden is so rewarding, isn't it? (when it's not being a pain in the a** that is)