Before summer’s glorious produce exits the farmer’s market, make a quick sauté of the best summer vegetables you can find. This recipe calls for a combination of peppers, summer squash, zucchini, corn, and tomatoes, but feel free to substitute based on what you like and what’s available in your market or garden.
This recipe relies on the technique of sautéing—a great way to prepare foods quickly in a small amount of fat. Use only enough fat (such as butter, olive oil, or coconut oil) to lightly coat the pan, heat the pan until it is hot (but not smoking), and then cook your food to the desired degree of doneness.
Olive oil – just enough to lightly coat the bottom of a large sauté pan
4 zucchini or yellow squash – or a combination of the two – about 1 ½ pounds – sliced about 1/2” thick
2 ears of corn, with kernels cut from the cob
1 yellow, orange, or red pepper, diced
1 or 2 small jalepeño peppers, finely diced and seeds removed (optional, if you desire some heat and spice)
6 ounces tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Chopped basil or other fresh herbs (optional, for garnish)
- In a large pan, heat olive oil until hot but not smoking.
- If you prefer your zucchini and squash well cooked, arrange the zucchini and yellow squash in a single layer. Brown the squash for about 3 minutes per side until they are nicely browned. You may have to do this in stages because you don’t want to crowd the pan. Add the rest of the vegetables, except for the tomatoes, and cook through for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the corn and pepper have softened.
- If you prefer your zucchini and yellow squash lightly cooked, add it to the hot pan and stir for a few minutes. Add remaining vegetables, except for the tomatoes, and cook through for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the corn and pepper have softened.
- Right before serving, add the tomatoes and toss until warm.
- Season well with salt and pepper, and garnish with chopped basil. Serve summer vegetables either warm or at room temperature
- Best-of-Summer Oven Bake. Using the same ingredients as above, place all vegetables in a lightly greased baking dish and cook at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Stir once or twice during the cooking time.
- Best-of-Spring Sauté. In lieu of corn and tomatoes, substitute an equal amount of fresh peas and add those to the squash sauté.
- Best-of-Summer Sauté with Cheese. After cooking the vegetables, garnish with shaved cheese. Feta or goat cheese make good choices.
Try seasoning your food as you cook, rather than waiting until it’s done. For example, if you salt and pepper the zucchini and squash while it is in the pan, you will have much more flavor than if you wait until the end.
Summer squashes, such as zucchini, yellow squash, and pattypan squash are all harvested young, have a short growing season, and have edible skins, which differentiates them from heartier winter squash. Summer squash are high in antioxidants and low in calories. They are an especially good source of lutein, which is important for eye health.
We often hear “eat the rainbow” as an edict of healthy eating. When selecting fruits or vegetables for a sauté or salad, apply this principle and choose many different colored options. This ups your nutritional stakes, and your dish will be so much more beautiful!