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The heat of the summer came and visited late this year, but now the nights are cooling off earlier and the mornings are chilly enough to require a light sweater or jacket.  I'm starting to see Thanksgiving and Halloween merchandise in the stores and getting excited about holiday entertaining. But summer is not over yet! Local sweet corn, peppers, squash and even a few heirloom tomatoes have made an appearance at the grocery store. And coworkers and friends are begging people to take what they can't use up. It's Summer Bounty!

Almost every day at work for the past 2 weeks there has been a bag or basket with an assortment of somebody's excess garden produce gor folks to enjoy. And then our company had a peach giveaway for all employees. We each got 9 so with my sweetie we got a haul of 18! These are amazingly good peaches I'm talking about too! What have I been concocting with my summer bounty? Join me over the kos-fleur-de-lis to whet your appetite!

What's For Dinner is a community diary on Saturday evenings about 7:30 pm EST where cyber friends get together and discuss food and share recipes. Pull your chair up to the table and leave politics at the door. Pour yourselves a drink and relax.

Lets start with the ubiquitous zucchini. It starts earlier for the folks back east but it's that time of year when neighbors leave mystery baskets on porches and coworkers bring it to work to give away. I say "Bring it on!" because I can come up with millions of ways to use it up. I love that it's so quick and easy to prepare too for fast dinners after work.

Zucchini, yellow summer squash, jalapenos and a lemon. I bought the lemon, but the rest came from an anonymous coworker. There were also 2 little green bell peppers but those went into the fridge. So, what did I do with this bounty? Oddly enough I was in the mood for comfort food that day so I concocted a casserole to accommodate this bounty and satisfy my craving for stuffed peppers/zucchini.

Stuffed Zucchini & Pepper Casserole

2-3 small to medium zucchini/yellow summer squash etc. quartered or halved lengthwise and chopped into 1/4" chunks
2 small green peppers or one big one
1/2 sweet onion such as Walla Walla or Vidalia
1 lb ground turkey
2 cups of rice
2 tblsp tomato paste
1 14.5oz can of petite diced tomatoes (fire-roasted if you have them!)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese of your preference (I used a Colby-Jack blend)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp hot paprika (pimenton or a good Hungarian hot paprika)
1 tsp cumin
Salt & Pepper
1 cup of panko breadcrumbs

Cook the rice and let cool. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Chop the green peppers and onions into small dice and sweat in the skillet until onions start going transparent and pepper is slightly softened but still bright green. Toss in the zucchini and liberally salt & pepper. Saute until the zucchini is tender-crisp. Dump the veggie mixture into a large mixing bowl to cool.
Return the skillet to the heat and brown the ground turkey with the paprikas, cumin and salt & pepper. When no longer pink add the tomato paste and canned tomatoes. Let simmer while prepping the rest.
Preheat the oven to 425°. Grease a 9x13 or similar baking pan. Dump the cooked rice into the bowl with the veggie mixture. Fold in 1 cup of the shredded cheese, saving the rest for the top of the casserole. Carefully fold in the meat & tomato sauce. Scoop the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Toss the remaining cheese with the bread crumbs and then scatter on top of the casserole. Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10-15 minutes until nicely golden-brown on top.

A friend had an excess of lovely organic grape tomatoes so she gave me half. I'm only just now hearing my coworkers talk of their garden tomatoes so we're having a late season. But these little gems didn't disappoint!

Grilled Veggie Farfalle

1/2 pint of grape tomatoes
1 lb of crimini or button mushrooms, stemmed and halved. Discard stems or save for other uses, such as soups, broths, stuffings.
1 medium zucchini halved lengthwise and chopped into 1" half-moons
8oz of farfalle (bow-ties)
1 cup of finely shredded parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper
1 large handful of fresh basil
1 tblsp chopped fresh oregano (1 tsp dried)
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove minced
8-10 skewers

Start a large pot of cold water to boil for the pasta. Combine the tomatoes (whole), mushrooms, and zucchini in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss, adding enough oil to coat all the veggies. Drizzle with a liberal amount of balsamic. Toss in the chopped fresh oregano and minced garlic and season with salt & pepper. Set aside to marinate. If using wooden skewers, put them in to soak now.
Fire  up the grill. Your target is a good even medium heat so do what pertains to your grill whether it be gas or charcoal. I find my little charcoal grill is ready for the food in about 30 minutes which is a good amount of time for the veggies to marinate.
Meanwhile, when your pasta water is at a boil, salt liberally and add the farfalle. Cook until al dente.
When your grill is nearly ready start putting together the veggie skewers. Thread the veggies alternating amongst them until you have used up all the veggies. Leave the remaining marinade in the bowl. You're going to toss everything all together in that yummy liquid when it's all done!
Grill the skewers, turning as necessary, until you have nice grill marks on the veggies and they are tender. Slide them off the skewers and back into the bowl with the marinade. Drain the farfalle and combine with the veggies in the bowl. Slice the fresh basil into a chiffonade (thin ribbons) and toss into the bowl along with the shredded parmesan. Gently toss to combine and serve.

Oh, and I teased your tastebuds with the mention of the peaches, didn't I?

Luscious, lovely and, best of all, FREE!

I gave away a few to the friend who shared the grape tomatoes, ate a couple out of hand, and the rest. . .well I got industrious and turned them into a big pan of peach cobbler!

Simply Peach Cobbler
I adapted this from the recipe for Pear & Ginger Cobbler in The New Basics by Rosso & Lukins. It's a recipe I've made enough times successfully to trust.

8-10 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into wedges
1/2 cup plus 3 tblsp of sugar
1 tblsp fresh lemon juice
finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 tblsp baking powder
2 tblsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 egg
1/3 cup of milk

Preheat oven to 425°. Butter a large 9x13 baking dish or casserole. Combine the peaches, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Toss well to combine. Dump into the prepared baking dish.

In another bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and 1 tblsp of the sugar. Work the butter and shortening in with 2 knives or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs. Lightly beat the egg and milk together and then slowly stir into the dry mixture. Knead lightly, sprinkling with more flour as needed until you have a smooth, not sticky, dough.

Break of bits of dough and place them on top of the peaches, pressing slightly and flattening. Cover the entire surface with this "cobbled" effect.
Sprinkle the remaining 2 tblsp of sugar on top of the dough and bake until well browned, about 35-45 minutes. Best served warm with some heavy cream or vanilla ice cream on top;)

What are you enjoying tonight of late summer's bounty?
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