Turn flats of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs into delicious quick pickles, pasta dishes, pesto, seasoned salts, and more to extend summer’s sunny flavours well into fall. Here’s how to get the most from your bounty.
Salty-Sweet Quick Cucumber Pickle
Ready to munch on in as little as 30 min., these tangy-sweet “fresh pickles” are a quick and easy savoury summer snack or a crunchy burger topper!
In saucepan over medium heat, mix 1½ cups (375 mL) water, ½ cup (125 mL) granulated sugar, ¼ cup (60 mL) white vinegar and 2 tbsp (30 mL) kosher salt.
Let simmer just until sugar and salt are dissolved. While mixture is hot, add 1 cucumber sliced into rounds.
Cover and let steep for 30 min. to 1 hr. Discard brine. Chill before eating, if desired.
If you’re planning on pickling other produce this summer, here’s a handy tip sheet on how do that.
Bunch of basil
Save this superb herb to perk up your Mediterranean-inspired dishes or for a quick pasta salad, to slather on your favourite sandwich or to swirl into your favourite vinaigrette.
Discarding stems, add basil leaves to food processor; pulse to coarsely chop (don’t add oil yet).
Scrape into freezer bag. Drizzle with olive oil or vegetable oil, turning to coat.
Press flat before freezing. Break off pieces as you need to flavour cooking.
If you have only a handful of fresh basil to store, coarsely chop by hand and follow same steps. Freezes well for 2 months.
Bundle of asparagus
Turn a bunch or two of asparagus into a speedy delicious pesto as well as an easy pasta garnish with this tasty hack.
In skillet over medium heat, soften 1½ cups (375 mL) finely diced onion in a drizzle of olive oil.
Cut 2 in. (5 cm) off tips of asparagus; reserve.
Trim 1 in. (2.5 cm) off tough ends. Chop midsection of spears into ½-in. (1 cm) pieces; add to skillet with splash of water and 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves. Cook asparagus until tender-crisp. Do not cover skillet. Let cool until steam is gone.
In food processor, place cooked asparagus mixture, 2 cups (500 mL) loosely packed fresh basil leaves (40 g pack), ¾ cup (175 mL) toasted walnut pieces, ¼ cup (60 mL) grated Parmesan cheese; 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil, 1 tsp (5 mL) salt and freshly cracked pepper. Blitz until coarse. Makes 2½ cups (625 mL). Toss with hot pasta to serve. Garnish with asparagus tips cooked tender-crisp.
Store roasted sweet red peppers in the fridge or freezer to add some oomph to your favourite recipes. They’re perfect for sauces, dips, marinades and sandwiches or as an ingredient in a number of dishes, including casseroles, pastas, omelettes, soups, and salads.
Trim longer stems, then place peppers on foil-lined baking sheet under broiler, turning to char all over. Transfer to heatproof bowl, cover, and let cool.Remove stems, seeds, ribs, and skins. Place peppers in jar and cover with olive oil or vegetable oil. Store in fridge for up to 1 week.
To store for longer, press peppers flat in freezer bags and freeze for up to 1 month. Soft after thawing, they’re handy for mixing into pastas, sauces, and soups.
Bunch of rosemary
Pan-Roasted Rosemary Salt
Turn fresh rosemary into a year-round stash of flavour-boosting salts with this deliciously speedy hack. Use as a finishing salt on grilled steak, chicken, lamb, vegetables, or fish.
Spread sprigs onto baking sheets and let air-dry for 2 days or until completely brittle. Store in jars.
Fresh rosemary also makes a delicious “finishing salt” perfect for sprinkling on grilled meats or veg! Using mortar and pestle, lightly pound 4 tsp (20 mL) finely chopped rosemary and 1 tbsp (15 mL) kosher salt until fragrant. Mix in pinch granulated sugar.
In small dry skillet over low heat, stir just until rosemary darkens and crisps. Immediately transfer to small dish.
Easy Roasted Feta & Cherry Tomato Pasta
Love that viral feta and tomato hack that people continue to try their hand at? Here’s our hot take on this tasty way to use up all those juicy, ripe cherry tomatoes.
Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Place 4 cups (1 L) whole cherry or grape tomatoes (or tomato chunks) into large baking dish. Toss with drizzle of olive oil, 2 finely sliced garlic cloves and 1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar.
Grab 200 g of feta cheese from our Cheese Dept. and tip onto tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 35 to 40 min.
Meanwhile, cook about 2 cups (500 mL) dried pasta. After roasting, lightly crush tomatoes and feta. Season with salt and pepper to taste, plus a little extra sugar or honey, if needed. Toss with torn fresh basil and drained hot pasta. Enjoy!
Preserve the warmth of vine-ripened tomatoes with this easy tasty Tomato Jam recipe. This sweet-savoury jam can be used in appetizers and on burgers. Infused with jalapeños and allspice, it takes sandwiches and cheese plates to another next level. If you prefer to can your crop for a hit of summer in the dead of winter, here’s how to do that.
Bunch of fresh mint
Mint pesto is a bright boost for grilled veggies, potatoes, avocado toast, noodle salads and, of course, lamb. Here’s to use up that glut of fresh mint this summer to bring those sunny flavours well into fall and beyond.
You’ll need 4 cups (1 L) mint and 1 cup (250 mL) parsley leaves, loosely packed. Add half of herbs to food processor. Put rest in colander and pour in kettle of just-boiled water, then rinse under cold running water; squeeze out excess water.
Add blanched herbs to food processor; add ⅓ cup (75 mL) walnut pieces, zest of 1 lemon and 1 chopped garlic clove, if you like.
Pulse until coarse paste; transfer to bowl. Stir in ⅓ cup (75 mL) olive oil, 2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice, 1 tbsp (15 mL) grated Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Makes ¾ cup (175 mL).
Press flat in freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month.
Flat of strawberries and other summer fruit
No-Cook Freezer Jam
Summer-ripe mashable fruit is what you want for any freezer jam. Whether you’re using raspberries, strawberries, peaches, or blueberries, this no-cook jam—a bonus in the summer—is made of mashed fruit, sugar, and pectin. You can add herbs like mint, basil, or lavender to give the jam depth and flavour. Jar it and store in the freezer for up to 1 year.
Fresh Strawberry Pie
For those looking to enjoy summer strawberries in a pie without cooking away the fruit’s perfume-like nuances, look no further than our Fresh Strawberry Pie recipe. A blitz of chocolate chip cookies creates the base for a quick cream cheese and brown sugar filling. Top that with mounds of fresh strawberries, glazed with strawberry jam, and you’ve got a new family summer favourite.
Fresh Peach Pie
If you dream of peaches all summer long, here’s the peach version of the Fresh Strawberry Pie for you to sink your teeth into.
Fresh Peach Bellini
Inspired by the Venetian classic, this refreshing summer sipper features ripe peaches, lime zest, and ginger ale for a quick and easy mocktail.