Garden Plate: Get back to the basics with farm stand food recipes

September traditionally brings us the usual “back to school” doldrums, but for the Garden State, our season of fresh fun is still going strong. Farm stands continue to brim with an abundance of options at the tail end of summer. The recipes are ripe with best of nature’s offerings in New Jersey.

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Jersey is the proud parent of the tomato, zucchini and homegrown eggplant. Put these together with a few other ingredients, and you have got yourself an easy, end-of-summer supper. The best part is that it can be assembled and roasted in minutes.


Servings: 6

1 eggplant, ends trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch slices

3 large tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch slices

4 sweet onions (such as Vidalia) peeled and cut in half then cut into 1/4-inch slices

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 small handful basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

½ cup pitted olives (Kalamata are really nice or Niçoise)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon dried Herbes de Provence

¼ cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Hearty bread to serve

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a wide casserole dish or a disposable 13-by-9-inch aluminum pan, layer vegetables (eggplant, tomato, zucchini and onions) in a fan like pattern. In a small bowl, mix garlic, capers, olives, tomato paste, Herbes de Provence, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over the top of the vegetables. Roast, covered, until tender about 1 and 3/4 hours. Remove foil and broil, if desired, for a few minutes to develop a brown crust on top. Serve with hearty bread for dipping.

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Corn and zucchini are the heavy hitters of late summer. By the end of the season, we’ve all become a bit spoiled, so here is a unique way to use up the bumper crop.


Servings: 4

3 large cobs of corn

2 zucchini, cut into halves lengthwise

For the pancake batter:

¼ cup chopped chives

2 large eggs

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 small bunch cilantro, chopped fine

Salt and pepper to taste

Cotija topping:

1 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled (feta can be substituted)

2 limes, juiced and one zested

2 tablespoons minced red onion

For the pancake batter:

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients until smooth with a whisk. Set aside to rest while the corn and zucchini cook.

For the Cotija topping:

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and set aside until ready to serve pancakes.

For the corn and zucchini pancakes:

Soak corn on the cob with husks still attached for about 30 minutes in cold water. Preheat grill, and grill corn over medium high heat until the kernels are tender and golden in spots, about 5 minutes per side. Grill zucchini until just tender, and char marks are visible. Remove both corn and zucchini to cool. Cut corn from cobs, and dice zucchini finely. Toss cooled corn, zucchini with pancake batter. In a large skillet, heat a small amount of olive oil. Over medium heat, pour approximately ½ cup of batter per pancake. Fry for 3-4 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove to a platter, and continue cooking in batches with remaining batter. Top each pancake with Cotija cheese mixture and serve.

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