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Drowning in the harvest |

Drowning in the harvest

Cucumbers at the farmer’s market
(Photo provided — Yvona Fast)


We are drowning in our harvest. We didn’t look at the cucumbers for a couple days, then found more than a bushel. We harvested cabbage and froze five one-gallon bags — and there’s much more out there. Then there’s the overabundant zucchini, copious greens like kale, plentiful garden beans, not to mention ample tomatoes .. corn, peppers, summer squashes of all kinds …Whether in the garden or at the farmer’s market, there’s so much scrumptious variety to choose from this time of year!

Summer is busy. Busy with harvesting, paddling, swimming and entertaining. It’s hot, so you don’t want to heat up the kitchen more than absolutely necessary. Nor do you want to spend time standing over a hot stove. It is not a time for heavy-duty cooking, but for light, refreshing fare. Summer meals need to be fast, simple, easy to prepare. Main dish salads, vegetable skillets, and pasta dishes are fitting choices.

Fresh veggies cook quickly and can be combined with pasta, stirred into egg dishes, or added raw to main dish salads. So preparing fast summer meals is a relatively easy task. When making meals from garden-fresh produce, the most time consuming tasks are slicing and dicing. To speed things up, use a food processor — or put your guests to work!

With abundant fruit and veggies at their peak of freshness and flavor, it is easy to exceed the government’s ‘5 a day’ recommendations. Fresh vegetables are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants … and are low in calories. Tomatoes and summer squash are high in lutein, an important antioxidant that may prevent macular degeneration. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are well known for their cancer preventing properties.

A broad repertoire of recipes can be created from all of this summer bounty. Warm or cold, pasta dishes make wonderful, quick and easy summer suppers. Veggie one-dish skillets — with a little meat or beans added for protein — are another option.

Main dish summer salads make great use of those abundant summer veggies. Don’t limit summer salads to lettuce and tomatoes! Instead, get creative. A salad can be any combination of vegetables – and doesn’t need to include greens.

Dilly Chicken with Squash and Tomatoes


1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast (or thigh)

1/2 onion, optional

1 medium yellow summer squash

1 medium green zucchini

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tomatoes

1 Tablespoon butter

1 Tablespoon flour

1/4 cup fresh dill


Slice squash and zucchini into thin rounds. Set aside.

Heat a teaspoon or two of oil in skillet to medium-high. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Cook one to two minutes on each side; remove and set aside. When cool enough to handle, slice.

Add remaining oil and diced onion; sprinkle with salt, cover and cook over low heat about five minutes. Add zucchini and summer squash; cook 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if needed. Dice the tomatoes and stir in, along with reserved chicken; cook about 5 minutes more, making sure chicken pieces are cooked through.

In a small skillet or pan, melt the butter. Stir in flour, and brown until it is a golden color. Pour in any liquid from the vegetables, stir to combine. Pour this into the vegetables, add the fresh chopped dill, stir to combine and cook just one to two minutes.

Serves two to three.

Serve with tossed salad and fresh baguette, over pasta, or over cooked grain like quinoa or rice.

Options: For a vegetarian main course, omit the chicken and add a can of garbanzo beans. Or omit the chicken and serve as a side dish.

Napa Cabbage, apple and chicken salad

This recipe is based on one from the American Heart Association. It is an easy, light meal and has become one of our family favorites.


1 teaspoon cooking oil

1/2 chicken breast (about 2 cups shredded)

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 small head Napa cabbage (about 4 cups)

3 scallions

2 apples, diced

1/4 cup raisins


2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 Tablespoon apple juice

1 Tablespoon olive oil


Heat oil in small skillet. Add chicken, sprinkle with soy sauce, and cook on low to medium heat, covered, turning occasionally, until opaque and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Set aside. Or, use two cups leftover cooked diced chicken or pork.

While chicken is cooking, wash cabbage and slice thinly. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously, or stir with a wire whisk to blend in the oil. In large salad bowl, mix dressing with cabbage. Cut off ends of scallions and any brown parts, slice in quarter inch pieces and stir into the salad. Wash, core, and dice the apples, and stir into the salad along with the raisins. When chicken has cooled enough to handle, dice or shred finely, and stir into the salad.

This salad benefits by marinating in the dressing; make it at least a couple hours early, and give it a stir once in a while.

Fresh Summer Pasta


1/2 pound rotini or fusilli pasta

1 1 / 4 teaspoon salt, divided

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 / cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 chicken breast or 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans or garbanzo beans

2 large tomatoes

1/2 pound green or wax beans (or summer squash, or try with other veggies)

1-2 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley


In a large saucepan with boiling water, cook pasta with half a teaspoon of salt according to package. Drain.

If using chicken: While pasta is cooking, add the remaining tablespoon of oil to a skillet. Add chicken, sprinkle with a quarter teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper. Cook on medium heat, turning once, about 8 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned, cooked through and firm when pressed in center. Remove from skillet and cut up; set aside.

Mash the garlic with the remaining half teaspoon of salt.

Stir into the drained pasta. Wash beans and cut into 2-inch lengths. Dice tomatoes. Add vegetables to the same skillet and cook just two to three minutes, so the vegetables are hot and tender crisp.

In large serving bowl, combine pasta with 1 Tablespoon oil, garlic, salt, basil and parsley. Stir well. Add cooked beans or diced cooked chicken and vegetables. Serve warm.

Author of the award-winning cookbook Garden Gourmet: Fresh Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market, Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be reached at, or on Facebook as

Author Yvona Fast.

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