Hot and steamy here in New Jersey with temperatures pushing into the 90’s and yet the garden is groaning under the weight of cucumbers, zucchini, green beans and summer squash. The orange cherry tomatoes are dropping from the vine and with an afternoon thunder storm rolling in over the mountains it is time to harvest the abundance and spend some time in the kitchen.

Classic recipes that are short and easy to do are called for today, because who wants to waste a perfectly good thunderstorm working in the kitchen. I have posted a few recipes relating to my gardens abundance and chose to begin with an appetizer made with green beans and toasted walnuts. I love this creamy dip and serve it in hollowed out cucumber halves for an afternoon snack; or slathered on sliced sour dough bread; but I have been known to eat it by the spoonful standing in front of the refrigerator like a kid raiding the ice cream.

Cucumber Boats W/ Green Bean Pate
6 servings

3 large cucumbers
1 pound green beans, tips removed
1 cup walnuts, toasted
2 Tbs. tamari soy sauce
1/3 cup water

1. Peel the cucumbers and cut into 2” logs. Hollow out ¾ of each log and set aside.
2. In a large skillet add the water and tamari then top with the green beans.
3. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender.
4. Combine the green beans, cooking liquid and walnuts in a food processor and puree until smooth.
5. Fill each cucumber boat with pate. Arrange on a serving platter and serve.

Last summer I brought home an odd looking contraption that makes pasta style shapes out of vegetables such as zucchini, potatoes, carrots, beets and pretty much whatever your imagination can conjure up. For Friday’s pot luck dinner I broke out the German invented Spirali, which translates to “Spiral Cutter”, and created raw zucchini pasta with a Roasted Red Pepper Pesto. Now that was really delicious. The zucchini emerged in a long, thin spaghetti shape, with a crisp al dente texture. If you do not have a spirali machine you can use a hand vegetable peeler to create a wider fettuchini shape with the zucchini.

Zucchini Spaghetti with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto
4 servings

3 zucchini
1 cup pesto (recipe below)

1. Using the spirilizer or Spirali, or peeling by hand make the pasta with the zucchini. Set aside.
2. Prepare the pesto and spoon desired amount into the zucchini. Toss well and serve as a side or main dish.

2 roasted red peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup parsley leaves
1 tablespoon Garlic Red Pepper miso (South River)
Juice 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil

1. In a food processor combine the red pepper and garlic.
2. Pulse to chop, then add the basil, parsley, miso, lemon juice and olive oil.
3. Puree until a smooth consistency.
4. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator or use immediately.

When I was visiting Spain in June I was introduced to a boxed Gazpacho, made with almonds, that when chilled was impressively delicious. Attempting to reproduce this recipe for breakfast recently, I managed a fair rendering on my first attempt, and after a bit of nip and tuck came up with this concoction.

Morning Gazpacho
Serves 1

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
Handful cherry tomatoes, washed, halved
1 tablespoon raw almond butter or 6 blanched almonds
1 teaspoon Garlic Red Pepper miso (South River)
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
8 ounces water
Few drops Ume Plum vinegar
1 teaspoon Apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice

Puree, taste, adjust seasonings, puree again and enjoy.