There are so many things to love about summer: the abundance of green–and, likewise, the distinct absence of that white crap that hung around for, like, ever; sunshine; baseball; garden-fresh produce; farmers markets featuring said produce, along with beautiful blooms, artisan cheeses, and other fabulous, funky eats and treats; baseball; lounging on the deck with a cold beer; and, have I mentioned yet, baseball?
Perhaps my favorite thing about summer is the food. And, no, not just the ballpark food. 😉
I love that, in the summer, dinner possibilities are endless and practically effortless. Our meals are fresh and tasty–and probably healthier because the fridge is practically bursting with fresh veggies, and what’s not in the fridge can be found just outside the back door!
The bonus? I find that my kids are much more likely to eat their meals when the meals feature veggies from our own backyard.
Cucumbers: The kids are pretty crazy about cucumbers anyway, but if there’s a bowl of fresh cukes from the garden on the table, I think they eat twice as much.
Greens: What kid won’t eat something dipped in ranch dressing? While mine will nibble on a single leaf of lettuce from the grocery store, they’ll eat an entire bowl if the tender greens were harvested from our own garden.
Tomatoes: My son pops tomatoes like they’re grapes, so long as they’re fresh off the vine. And they seem to taste even better if he picked them himself!
Beans: The kids will eats second, and even thirds, of beans picked from our very own plants.
So, one evening last week, our dinner featured these garden green beans
with sides of sweet corn and barbequed chicken.
I prepped the green beans using my favorite method for cooking fresh veggies: adding bacon.
Okay, just kidding!
My favorite method for cooking veggies comes from Pam Anderson’s How to Cook Without a Book. Her steam-sauté technique is fantastic and practically foolproof. I have yet to meet a vegetable that doesn’t adapt well to the method.
The basic idea is this: Drizzle some oil in the bottom of the pan; add your veggies and about 2 tablespoons of water; salt the veggies (it’ll brighten the color and flavor!) and add onion or garlic, if desired; cover and crank the heat to high. Set the timer for six to eight minutes, depending on the quantity (and tenderness) of the veggies. The water will come to a boil and steam the veggies. After the steam session, remove the lid and sauté until the water evaporates and the veggies brown just a bit.
Finish with a dash of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a little squeeze of lemon (to brighten any green veggie).
Or forgo the additional salt, and throw in some bacon!