ZF – Summer sauté

From the woman who taught me how to cook – today’s recipe is from my mom, Joyce. 

We have a small garden in our backyard, which I have always referred to as being a “supper garden.” Other than freezing pesto and chopped basil, everything in the garden is used fresh.

Over the years I have made endless variations of what I call “Summer Sauté.” I have written down a basic road map, but you should view this more as a springboard than a recipe. I have also included some possible variations, since customization is what this is all about. Use vegetables and quantities to suit what you have and what you like. Zucchini is always at the heart of the sauté, as there’s plenty to use up!

As you can see in the picture, my garden veggies are all quite small. My sauté for today will include zucchini, ichiban eggplant, tomatoes, a jalapeño, two banana peppers, basil, onion, mushrooms, garlic and some Trader Joe’s chicken sausage.

Summer Saute Road Map

Bowl #1 – Use any combination of zucchini, yellow summer squash, ichiban eggplant, green beans, sweet corn, onions, mushrooms, garlic, peppers (green, red, banana, jalapeño) of a quantity to suit you.  I would also add chicken sausage.

Slice or cut the vegetables and sausage into pieces of similar size and thickness. (Just lay the ear of corn onto your cutting board and slice off the kernels) Dice the onion and peppers. Tip – Cut up the eggplant as your pan is pre-heating, since eggplant darkens after it is cut.

Bowl #2 – Dice the tomato. Chiffonade (a fancy word for rolling up a stack of leaves and then slicing thinly across them – better than chopping) some fresh basil and stir it in with the tomato.

Pour 1-2 T olive oil into a large, deep non-stick skillet. Heat to medium high. Add the contents of Bowl #1. Stir lightly, and then let this sit until things start to brown. Stir lightly and let sit again. Repeat as needed. Resist the temptation to add more oil.

When things in the skillet look to be somewhat cooked, add the contents of Bowl #2 and stir this together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer lightly until everything is warmed. Do not overcook so everything is mushy.

Remove from heat and pour into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle optional freshly grated parmesan over the top.

Protein options

Instead of the chicken sausage (yes, it is delicious and you can find many flavors of this at Target, Hy-Vee, Trader Joe’s) you could use:

Chopped rotisserie chicken

Leftover beef or pork

No meat – use canned white beans, or additional cheese

Veggie options:

Leftover veggies should be added when the tomatoes go in, since they just need to be warmed.

Flavor options

Leave out the basil and add chili powder & cumin for a Mexican flair. Top with cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese instead. You could even clean out your fridge by adding the last inch or two from the jar of salsa.

Leave out the jalapeño and yellow banana peppers, and add more of your favorite Italian seasonings.

Go Greek by using oregano as the seasoning, add some sliced olives right before serving, and crumble a little Feta over the top.

Consistency options:

If you opt to add lots of tomatoes and your consistency is soupy, then this is wonderful served over rice, couscous or pasta. Otherwise, it is fine on its own. Nice to have a little crusty bread on the side.

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