I've been in a cooking slump. Work has been crazy, school is insane, the garden is demanding, the kids' activities have us running all over. Between work, yardwork and homework, Panda's class and rehearsals, my class and rehearsals, Redman's games and practices, I'm in no mood to make dinner. Let's just order Chinese Food.
But suddenly, Panda's two recitals were finished, and last week was her last ballet class in Ridgefield. And suddenly I have Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights free. Welcome back, Kotter! I can actually plan a dinner. I can plan a week of dinners and there will be people here to eat them! We can eat on the deck! I can put flowers on the table on the deck while we eat the dinner I planned!
Life is great.
So all my cookbooks are stacked up next to my bed again and I'm getting reacquainted with some old friends. Diving back into one of my very favorites, Fast, Fresh & Green, here's a simply awesome recipe for Summer Vegetable Ragout with Zucchini, Green Beans and Corn. This is a lemon-bright, elegant succotash of sorts. I doubled the recipe below, substituted asparagus for green beans because it's what I had around, and I used frozen corn instead of fresh. A little bit of prep time goes into this, but then it's 1-2-3 in the skillet and just totally delicious. Redman really liked it, which surprised me. Then again, he's always surprising me.
Summer Vegetable Ragout
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 2 tbsp heavy cream (I used half-and-half)
- 1 tbsp Canola or Olive oil
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels
- 3/4 cup sliced baby zucchini (slice baby zucchini straight across; if you don't have baby, use regular, sliced lengthwise in quarters and then straight across)
- 3/4 cup sliced slender green or yellow wax beans (I used 1/2 bunch of asparagus, cut on the diagnol into 1" pieces)
- 1 cup medium-diced yellow onion (I used a red onion because I had half a one hanging out in the fridge)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley, basil, chives, thyme and just a little bit of mint)
- Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. In a liquid measuring cup, combine broth and heavy cream. Set these aside.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn, zucchini, green beans, onion and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bottom of the pan is browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, just until well combined. Turn the heat to low, add the broth-cream mixture, stir well to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and cover. Simmer until the liquids have reduced to 1 or 2 tbsp, about 4 minutes.
Remove the pan from the stove, and stir in the lemon juice mixture and most of the fresh herbs. Season with pepper and stir again. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the remaining herbs.
This and a cranberry-radish slaw, along with two rotisseries chicken, were dinner on the deck.