The branches on the tomato plants are bowing under the weight of the fruits, sleek summer squashes peek out from under spreading vines, the salad greens have sprouted a mass of red and green ruffled, crinkly, ferny, and oakleaf-shaped leaves, the snap peas are laden with fat, sweet pods, the strawberries are starting on their August burst of fruit, and the pole beans are resplendent in green, waxy yellow, and deep purple. It’s high summer in my garden and I’m madly inventing ways to use the bounty. (That’s a photo of one morning’s harvest below.)
Here’s one of my favorite summer-in-the-garden dinners: a traditional New Mexican recipe updated with a rich mix of fresh summer vegetables.
Stacked Green Enchiladas Go Veggie
12 corn tortillas
1 large can green enchilada sauce (I make my own–recipe below–but La Palma is a good prepared sauce)
1-1/2 cup sugar snap peas
1 medium-sized summer squash
1-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels
12 oz cheddar cheese (I prefer sharp, white cheddar)
Heat the enchilada sauce in a sauce pan large enough to accommodate a tortilla laying flat. Cut the snap peas and summer squash into bite-sized pieces and steam with the corn. Grate the cheese coarsely. You’ll stack the enchiladas like pancakes on individual plates and heat each plate briefly in the microwave. So make an assembly line on the counter next to the stove with four plates, the steamed vegetables (stirred together), the tortillas, and the grated cheese. Immerse one tortilla at a time in the simmering green enchilada sauce, leave for about a minute, and then remove using tongs. Lay the tortilla on a plate, spread a thin layer of the steamed vegetables atop the tortilla, sprinkle with about an ounce of grated cheese, and then ladle a tablespoon or two of sauce over it. Cook the next tortilla and repeat the vegetable and cheese and sauce layering process, and then cook one more tortilla and top with sauce and a light sprinkle of cheese. Put the plate in the microwave for a minute or until the cheese melts, and assemble the next stack.
Continue until you’ve filled four plates, and then serve and enjoy! (Makes a hearty dinner for four. You can add shredded chicken or shrimp–heat first–with the vegetables if you wish.)
Here’s my green sauce recipe (warning: this is not for the faint of taste-bud!):
A-hoo-ah Green Enchilada Sauce
4 T butter
3 T white flour
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cups green chiles (about a dozen medium-large chiles) seeded and peeled (use mild one unless you like a really spicy sauce!)
4 cups water
1 leaf bay laurel
1/2 tsp salt
Peel and seed the chiles, then puree them until not quite smooth in a food processor or blender with a cup of the water (if using a blender, do half the chile and half the water at a time). Sauté the garlic and onion in the butter until the onion is transparent. Add the flour and sautee, stirring, until the mixture is golden brown. Then add the remaining water a cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the roux to come to a boil between additions of water, and then the chiles. Once the mixture is smooth, add the bay laurel leaf and salt, and simmer for half an hour to give the flavors time to mingle.
Finish this spicy and rich meal with a simple and cooling dessert:
Strawberries with brandied cream sauce
3 cups fresh strawberries (growing your own or buying local ones from the farmer’s market is worth it for this dessert–there is nothing as sweet as fresh, local strawberries!)
3 cups strawberries
1 cup lowfat or non-fat vanilla yogurt
2 T whipping cream
2 tsp brandy or Gran Marnier
Wash, hull, and halve the strawberries (leave them whole if they’re bite-sized). Mix the yogurt, whipping cream, and brandy. Mound 3/4 cup of strawberries in each of four dessert bowls, and then spoon about 3 T of sauce over each bowl. Serve and linger over every sweet, rich bite!
Last week’s road trip took Richard and me to New Leaf Fruits, an organic peach orchard on the banks of the Gunnison River in western Colorado’s Dominguez Canyon. I’m writing an article for Zone 4 Magazine on “peach poet” Rosemerry Trommer and her husband Eric, and their venture into a life of growing organic apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, pears, and apples–and a family–at their remote orchard. Of course, we came home with boxes of plateau country summer’s heat and sunshine in the form of huge and delicious organic peaches and Olathe sweet corn. It doesn’t get much better than this for a local foodie like me….
Stay tuned for peach recipes and an easy way to freeze fresh corn!