If you were to ask me my favorite season, summer would not be top on the list. I know, its crazy. But I just am not a fan of the heat. Give me a spring breeze or a winter snowfall any day over sweating just walking outside. But the one thing that makes summer awesome? All the produce! Even with the year round variety here in Texas, my CSA deliveries are never as varied as they are in the summer months. This week I got blueberries, baby acorn squash, corn, mushrooms, arugula, garlic, and best of all, tomatoes. You’ve never really had a real tomato until you have a locally grown, in season, ripe heirloom or grape tomato. All those year round artificially grown ones in the store pale in comparison to the summer tomato.
Tomatoes are full of juicy nutrient goodness. A single medium tomato has 22 kcal and 5 g carbohydrates. But those little calories are packed full of micronutrients. Tomatoes contain over 5% DV of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, and vitamin B6. They are also a good source of minerals, including iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and copper (source).
Thanks to their rich, colorful hues, tomatoes are full of antioxidants, especially the frequently mentioned lycopene. These antioxidants help protect skin cells against sun damage, promote eye health, and maintain strong bones. They are also linked to the reduced risk of many cancers.
Try a new spin on the standard tomato recipes with one of these hearty meals.
One of the best things about moving back to Texas was guacamole. And tacos. The Midwest just cannot make either correctly. Thankfully, my cravings adjusted while I was gone, but as soon as I got back, the very first thing I did was get my taco fix.
These veggie-stuffed tacos are warm and filling from the beans and potatoes. They’re light and refreshing from the cucumber salsa and lettuce shells. Topped with creamy avocado or cauliflower queso (recipe tomorrow!), they become over the top. A must make before summer slips away.
Summer Tacos with Cucumber Salsa
- 4 small red potatoes
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 T coconut oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 c summer squash
- 1 c purple hull peas, cooked
- 4 c butter lettuce leaves
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper
- 1/2 a lime, juiced
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 c fresh cilantro
- Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dice potatoes into small pieces and toss with coconut oil, chili powder, salt and pepper. Spread potatoes evenly on baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes.
- Rinse peas. Fill a small pot with water and peas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour.
- Dice squash into cubes. When potatoes are done, add squash to the baking sheet, folding them into the potatoes. Roast for another 30-35 minutes until all vegetables are browned and slightly crisp on the edges.
- Dice tomatoes and cucumber and combine in a bowl. Finely dice jalapeno and cilantro and add to bowl, along with lime juice and salt. Stir to combine and let sit for flavors to meld.
- When the veggies and peas are finished cooking, let cool slightly, then combine in a large bowl.
- Lay out a few leaves of lettuce on a plate, overlapping pieces as necessary to create small taco cups. Scoop a couple spoonfuls of veggie mixture into each cup. Top with a spoonful of salsa and a few slices of avocado.
Per Serving (Tacos): 254 kcal, 49 g carbs, 4 g fat, 11 g protein, 169 mg sodium, 7 g sugar
Per Serving (Salsa): 24 kcal, 6 g carbs, 0 g fat, 1 g protein, 239 mg sodium, 3 g sugar
The last of the summer squash is still hanging in there, at least in Texas. It’s like a never-ending supply of fun shaped, unknown named garden varieties. Since I am already way over summer and well into fall foods, I’ve been hiding all this squash in cold-weather classics, like soups, stews, and pastas. This sauce is definitely a year-round keeper.
Mushroom and Squash Marinara
- 1 T Earth Balance spread
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 c white onion, diced
- 1 c summer squash, diced
- 1 lb crimini mushrooms, diced
- 1/3 c white wine
- 1/4 c nutritional yeast
- 28 + 14 oz crushed tomatoes
- 1 T flax seed
- 1 t dried oregano
- 1 t dried thyme
- 1 t dried basil
- 1/4 c fresh parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- Heat Earth Balance in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add onion and continue to saute until translucent. Add squash and mushrooms. Let mixture cook, until veggies soften, about 8 minutes.
- Transfer veggie mixture to the bowl of a slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Let simmer for 6-8 hours. The longer it sits and flavors can meld, the better.
- Serve over pasta of choice.