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In this weekly series we have been discussing the benefits of a vegetarian diet including: better health, public health, food safety, frugal living, animal rights, global food crisis and the immense contribution of meat/livestock production to climate change/resource depletion.

Macca's Meatless Monday/Meatless Advocates is a solution oriented activist group, with solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time including: climate change, global food/water insecurity and public health.  Here we don't just talk about the severity of the crisis.  Armed with knowledge about how our actions can contribute we become part of the solution.

I was inspired to create this series by former Beatle and vegetarian advocate Paul McCartney(Macca) who partnered with the Meatless Monday campaign to promote less consumption of meat.  We not only discuss the advantages of a less meat diet we also do some cooking, share recipes and listen to great Beatle music!

This is the season a Florida veggie lover lives for.  Both the smaller organic farms and the larger commercial operations have a major abundance of locally growth specialty southern crops that are everywhere from small roadside stands to the major grocery chains.  And this year there is a proliferation of private garden plots in back yards, front yards and patio/balconies.   It's a beautiful sight and a life long Floridian can detect the scent of the gardens and farm fields in the air.

Today I will highlight our summer crops with some of my fave all time recipes and some new recipes that have become our favorites.
One of the first recipes I can't wait to cook when I find my first produce stand filled with zukes and yellow squash is:

No matter what time of year I have to have my curry fix and this recipe utilizing summer squash and lite coconut milk fits the bill. Very Yummy!
serves 4-6

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 zucchini, quartered and sliced
2 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
2 cups firm tofu, diced (or use 1 can drained & rinsed garbanzo beans)
1 15 oz. can coconut milk (Lite is ok)
2 cups vegetable stock or one can
1 -2 tbsp.(I use 2+) red curry paste (depending on how spicy you like your food. Add a taste as you go.)
2 tbsp. shoyu (or soy sauce)
juice of 1 lime
1 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves

Brown or Jasmine rice to accompany.

Heat a large pot over medium. Once it’s hot, heat the olive oil, then add the onions and peppers. Saute for 7 minutes, or until the onions are soft and begin to get translucent.

Add the squash, zucchini, tofu and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. While you’re waiting for the coconut milk to simmer, whisk the curry paste into the stock until completely dissolved, then add it to the pot. Let simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft, but not mushy.

Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice and shoyu. Taste and adjust the salt and curry paste to taste.

Ladle over rice and sprinkle with basil leaves.  

        Summer Vegetable Gratin
This is go-to in my house and makes a complete dinner for 4 with the addition of crostini with white bean hummus

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 pound summer squash (yellow), ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (3 to 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin pole to pole (about 3 cups)
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 large slice white sandwich bread, torn into quarters ( I use 1 cup of Panko Bread Crumbs)
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup) or use vegan cheese
2 medium shallots, minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush 13- by 9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil; set aside.

Toss zucchini and summer squash slices with 1 teaspoon salt in large bowl; transfer to colander set over bowl. Let stand until zucchini and squash release at least 3 tablespoons of liquid, about 45 minutes. Arrange slices on triple layer paper towels; cover with another triple layer paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible.

Place tomato slices in single layer on double layer paper towels and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 30 minutes. Place second double layer paper towels on top of tomatoes and press firmly to dry tomatoes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and dark golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Set onions aside.

Combine garlic, 3 tablespoons oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and thyme in small bowl. In large bowl, toss zucchini and summer squash in half of oil mixture, then arrange in greased baking dish. Arrange caramelized onions in even layer over squash. Slightly overlap tomato slices in single layer on top of onions. Spoon remaining garlic-oil mixture evenly over tomatoes. Bake until vegetables are tender and tomatoes are starting to brown on edges, 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, process bread in food processor until finely ground, about 10 seconds. (You should have about 1 cup crumbs). Combine bread crumbs, remaining tablespoon oil, Parmesan, and shallots in medium bowl. Remove baking dish from oven and increase heat to 450 degrees. Sprinkle bread-crumb mixture evenly on top of tomatoes. Bake gratin until bubbling and cheese is lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and let sit at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.
         waldorf salad
This is one of those recipes I remember from my childhood and as soon as I find fresh local celery this comes together.  Adjust the amounts according to taste and number of servings you need.  The dressing serves about 2 so multiply as you like.

lettuce (I like bibb, red and green leaf here but whatever you like even cabbage and spinach work well)
golden delicious apple or use granny smith
red grapes or any grapes you like
raw walnuts

1/4 – 1/3 cup light mayonnaise(I use veganaise cause it tastes better and it's vegan!)
2-3 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
pinch of salt

So just mix your dressing and add to other ingredients and enjoy!
           Zucchini & Sweet Corn Fritters with Fresh Tomato-Cucumber Relish
This recipe utilizes 4 of my fave Florida veggies.  About 6-8 fritters

1 small zucchini, grated & squeezed dry
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
a few dashes of hot sauce
3/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil

Quick Tomato-Cucumber Relish
1/2 cucumber, seeds removed & diced
2 tomatoes, seeds removed & diced
1/4 onion, diced
1 jalepeno, diced
juice of 1 lime
salt & pepper

1. In a medium sized bowl, combine the zucchini and corn together and stir in the flour, baking powder and spices.

2. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites until they have they form stiff peaks. Beat together the egg yolks with the milk and stir this mixture into the vegetable-flour mix with a fork. Add the whipped egg whites and fold in slowly until everything is well mixed.

3. Prep the relish by mixing together the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and drop the fritter batter into the pan - a heaping tablespoon should be a good size. Flatten tops slightly and fry until golden. Flip and cook until the remaining side is golden. Serve fritters with a big dollop of the fresh salsa on top.
         Summer Succotash
I love this updated, light one dish meal

Mix Dressing:
2 T of Olive Oil
2 T of Honey or use Agave
2 T of Apple Cider Vinegar
1 1/2 T of Balsamic Vinegar

2 T of Fresh Dill (or less depending on personal taste)
1/2 C of chives

Then in a large bowl mix up:
1 lg Cucumber (cut up)
1 Can of Butter Beans, Navy Beans or Cannelini beans, rinsed
1 Cup of Cherry Tomatoes halved
4 ears of corn grilled or 1/2 bag of white/yellow mixed frozen corn, defrosted and rinsed

Pour over dressing and toss together, refrigerate for 1-2hrs or overnight.
                  curry zucchini pickles
I start making these about this time of year and use them all summer with veggie burgers or in sandwiches.  About 3 cups

1 pound zucchini
1 small yellow onion
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed yellow and/or brown mustard seeds
Scant 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1. Wash and trim the zucchini, then slice them one-sixteenth-inch thick; a mandoline works best, but a good sharp knife is fine, too. Slice the onion very thin as well. Combine the zucchini and onions in a large but shallow nonreactive bowl, add the salt and toss to distribute. Add a few ice cubes and cold water to cover, then stir to dissolve the salt.

2. After about 1 hour, taste and feel a piece of zucchini - it should be slightly softened. Drain and pat dry.

3. Combine the vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, mustard seeds and turmeric in a small saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside until just warm to the touch. (If the brine is too hot, it will cook the vegetables and make the pickles soft instead of crisp.)

4. Return the zucchini to a dry bowl and pour over the cooled brine. Stir to distribute the spices. Transfer the pickle to jars, preferably ones that have "shoulders" to hold the zucchini and onions beneath the surface of the brine. Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least a day before serving to allow the flavors to mellow and permeate the zucchini, turning them a brilliant chartreuse color.
         Couscous salad with Zucchini and Roasted Almonds
Makes a lovely dinner for 2-3 with the addition of crostini with hummus spread

    2 cups pearl couscous
    1 cup fresh peas
    1 1/2 cups finely diced zucchini
    6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2/3 cup chopped roasted almonds
    1/2 cup sliced scallions
    1/2 cup chopped parsley
    1/4 cup chopped mint
    Crushed red pepper, for seasoning

    Pour 2 cups boiling water over the couscous; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Boil the peas in 1/2 cup water for 1 minute. Drain the peas, reserving 1/4 cup of the water. In a skillet, sauté the zucchini in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and let cool to room temperature. In a small bowl, mix the reserved pea cooking water with the lemon juice and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Fluff the couscous and pour this dressing on top.
    Stir in the zucchini, peas, almonds, scallions, parsley and mint. Season with salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper.

"English Tea"  Paul McCartney 'miles and miles of English gardens

"Love Me Do"  The Beatles

What have you all been cooking?  Please share your fave recipes and Beatle music here!

Originally posted to Meatless Advocates Meetup on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 02:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by lundi channel.

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