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Summertime on a Plate: 4 Recipes Featuring Garden-Fresh Veggies

Summertime on a Plate: 4 Recipes Featuring Garden-Fresh Veggies

No matter how you slice it, gardens around the country are in full swing. Tomatoes, zucchini, corn, green beans and peppers … there’s a good chance you have more produce than you know what to do with it.

To help you find tasty ways to use your summer harvest, we’ve invited Chef Heather Terhune, best known for her appearance on Top Chef Texas, to share some of her favorite summer recipes.

Heather has also worked with Chicago Cutlery this summer to educate cooks on the proper use of knives to make meal prep easier and more enjoyable. Watch our Green City Farmers Market video to see Heather’s tips and tricks, and check out her descriptions of knife cuts that are used in these recipes. Here are a few to whet your appetite.

Bias Cut: When you make a bias cut, you’re cutting something long (like a baguette) with a hard angle for a nicer presentation.

Chiffonade: A cutting technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables (such as basil or spinach) are cut into long, thin strips. This is accomplished by stacking the leaves, rolling them tightly, then cutting across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife, producing fine ribbons.

Julienne: An urban legend has this cut named for Julia Child. The julienne cut results in long, thin strips and gives veggies a distinctly “fancy” appearance. A properly julienned carrot or zucchini should measure approximately (1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 2 inches). It’s also the starting point for the brunoise cut.

Brunoise: Take a julienned vegetable, turn it 90 degrees and then cut it into small cubes that are identical size and shape. Similar to dicing, a brunoise cut results in very small, consistent squares measuring approximately (1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch). This cut can be used on any vegetable, but firm ones like carrots, leeks, celery and turnips best hold the shape.

Asparagus & Pea Salad

A fresh take on two vegetables that are often overlooked, this flavorful dish takes mere minutes to prepare and is sure to steal the spotlight. Throw it together in a pan on the grill next to your fresh fish and you’ll have a stunning, simple meal in no time.

Servings: 4

1 pound green or purple asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (use paring knife)
3 green garlic stalks, washed, trimmed and cut on a julienne (use chef’s knife)
2 cups sugar snap peas, washed, remove the string, trimmed and cut on a bias (use paring knife)
1 ½ cup cleaned and trimmed oyster mushrooms (use paring knife)
6-ounces fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves
2 cups spinach leaves, cut chiffonade (use chef’s knife)
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons vegetable or sunflower oil
Kosher salt and pepper

Preheat a large sauté pan with the vegetable oil or sunflower oil and sauté the asparagus on high heat for two minutes. Add the mushrooms, cook another 1 minute. Add the green garlic and sugar snap peas, cook another 1 minute. Remove from heat. Season, add the vinegar, olive oil, spinach and tarragon. Toss well. Divide the cheese on top of each serving.

Heirloom Tomato Bread Salad

If you have bushels of beautiful tomatoes, this is the perfect summertime salad for you. Also called a panzanella, it’s a traditional Tuscan salad that makes great use of stale bread. A delicious option for picnics or potlucks, the flavors only get better as they marinate.

Servings: 6

2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Croutons, recipe follows
2 cups trimmed arugula
Parmesan, for shaving, if desired

Drain the tomatoes in a sieve to remove excess liquid while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, basil, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Add the croutons and toss well. Divide tomato mixture among four plates. Top each serving with an equal amount of the arugula. With a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan over the salad. Serve immediately.

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 cups crustless cubed day-old bread (1/2-inch cubes), sourdough is preferred
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 F. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook until it foams. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat with the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the bread to a baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with the cheese and toss again while warm to melt the cheese. Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 8 or 9 minutes. Let cool.

Rainbow Salad

Every color under the sun is represented in this stunning salad that may be just too pretty to eat. Bringing together the season’s bounty in one plate, the crisp flavors are brought to life with a sassy apple cider vinaigrette.

Servings: 4

1 pound green or purple asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (use chef’s knife)
2 carrots, washed, peeled, trimmed and cut on a julienne (use chef’s knife)
2 cups sugar snap peas, washed, remove the string, trimmed and cut on a bias (use paring knife)
1 large red beet, peeled, trimmed and cut into julienne (use chef’s knife)
1 cup purple cabbage, thinly sliced (use chef’s knife)
10 French breakfast radishes or red radishes washed, peeled, trimmed and thinly sliced (use paring knife)
2 yellow bell peppers, trimmed and julienned (use chef’s knife)
1/2 cup roasted and salted sunflower seeds

Prepare all the vegetables as listed with the different techniques. Place half the dressing on the bottom of a large platter. Line the individually cut vegetables in the color of the rainbow, side by side, or however you would like. Keep like colors apart. Drizzle remaining dressing on the top of the salad. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Feel free to use whatever vegetables you would like and interchange them.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette:

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar. Shake to combine.


Made popular thanks to the 2007 Pixar film featuring an adorable rat-turned-chef, ratatouille is a traditional stewed vegetable dish that originated in Nice, France. While a staple dish in French households, its preparation is hotly debated. Here, we present one of three most common methods for preparing this celebration of eggplant, tomatoes and squash.

Servings: 4-6

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
1 1/2 cups small diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups medium diced eggplant, skin on
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup brunoise-cut green bell peppers
1 cup brunoise-cut red bell peppers
1 cup brunoise-cut zucchini squash
1 cup brunoise-cut yellow squash
1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put a large 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and garlic to the pan. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted and lightly caramelized, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the eggplant and thyme to the pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is partially cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the green and red peppers, zucchini and squash, continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste, and cook for a final 5 minutes. Stir well to blend and serve either hot or at room temperature.