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End of Summer in the Garden

Tomatoes and corn are nearing the end of their prime yet they are still readily available and delicious and often a great price as farmers try to move their products to us fickle cooks longing for fall. At the same time figs are gracing us with their second harvest and root vegetables have had the summer to grow and sweeten to their full potential.

Some farmers have already started their fava bean crops, both for consumption of the tender shell beans and for tilling under for nitrogen-fixing their soil for winter crops. I thought I’d share a couple of recipes and procedures for this wonderful season of bounty and abundance at farmers markets and in home gardens.

Fresh ear of corn

Baked figs, beets and sweet potatoes

This is one of those quintessential recipes that epitomize end of summer and longing for fall. A little summer fruit roasted together with sweet potatoes and beets, an unusual combination but at the same time exotic.

Serves 4


1Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, with skin on

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

4 small whole red beets, scrubbed well

1 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed

8 whole mission figs

12 whole cremini mushrooms

1 Tbsp fig balsamic vinegar* (or balsamic vinegar)


  1. Place all of the fruits and vegetables in a deep baking dish, big enough to hold all of the items in a single layer.

  2. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper

  3. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until beets can be pierced with a knife

  4. Roast the sweet potato separately on the rack in the oven, bake until done

  5. When the vegetables are done, remove the foil and set aside.

  6. Cut the sweet potato into rounds and add to the figs and beets.

  7. Sprinkle the vinegar over and toss to moisten and combine.

Corn, zucchini and tomato pie

Tomatoes and corn and zucchini are featured here in this wonderful Native American pie. This pie is made from the overflowing bounty of the backyard garden. Fresh corn and zucchini seasoned with dill baked underneath Parmesan-crusted tomatoes to make a scrumptious entrée that can be served warm or at room temperature.

market boxes of gorgeus heirloom tomatoes

Ingredients 3 cups fresh, or frozen and defrosted corn kernels 5 small zucchini, cut into matchstick pieces 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon fresh dill weed 2 tablespoons melted butter 3 to 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs 2 tablespoons olive oil


Preheat the oven to 375°. In a 13 by 9-inch ovenproof baking dish, combine the corn, zucchini, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, the dill, and the melted butter, tossing to coat the vegetables. Cover the vegetables with the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the cheese and the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture over the tomatoes and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake the pie for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling. Remove it from the oven, and let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Risotto with favas and pea shoots

Truffles and pea shoots pair wonderfully with fava beans in this risotto. You can substitute barley for the arborio rice for a more toothsome bite.

Serves 20


3 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 cups diced onions

½ cup garlic

4 cups Arborio rice

2 cups white wine

½ cup butter

6 cups chicken stock, warm (or as much as needed to make risotto creamy)

Kosher salt and black pepper

Prepared fava beans

Fresh pea shoots


Heat oil in a large straight sided saute pan. Add onions saute for 10 minutes; add garlic and rice and cook for 3 minutes. Add white wine and turn the heat down. Add stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly on low heat, letting the water evaporate before adding the next 1/2 cup.

Add the fava beans and pea greens in the last 2 minutes of cooking. Garnish with truffle oil and truffle salt if available.

Fresh fava beans

This is what I consider the best way to prepare the “green gold” which is what I call these delicious, labor intensive fava beans.


boiling water, salt, ice, tap water

2 lbs fresh fava beans, in the pod (yields about 1 1/2 to 2 cups shelled beans)

2 tablespoon olive oil

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 bay leaves

2 garlic cloves, sliced

salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. First, shell the beans from the fava pods

  2. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil, then add salt, garlic slices, rosemary , bay leaf and pepper – the amount of salt depends on how much water you have, but it should be very salty, like seawater.

  3. In a bowl, combine ice and tap water to make ice water; set aside.

  4. Add the shelled beans to the boiling water and let cook for about 3 minutes, then remove from saucepan and immediately plunge into the ice water to halt the cooking.

  5. Let the beans cool, then peel the outer skin from each of them.

If your restaurant or institutional foodservice operation is looking for a consulting chef to assist in assessing, planning and/or implementing recipe changes to modernize your menu, improve quality, boost flavor or increase environmental sustainability, please contact me here for a free 30-minute consultation.

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