Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

There is nothing so frustrating as spending hours on a document, only to have it completely disappear into cyberspace. Alas, this is precisely what happened to my post this week. I had focused mainly on ideas for using the high summer veggies that are still plentiful, but that we may be tiring of, including eggplant, cucumber, zucchini/summer squash, tomatoes, and green beans. If I tried to recreate the document, it would take me so long, you wouldn’t receive it in time to do you any good, so it is with sincere apologies and a heavy heart that I concede I just have to let it go.

What I can do this week is pull together some recipes from past posts to get your creative juices flowing and help get you out of any high summer ruts you may be stuck in. I hope you enjoy the tremendous bounty we are experiencing right now at the farm. I would love to take this opportunity to extend a huge “thank you” to Joe and his wonderful crew…the bounty has been generous, the produce of highest quality, and the whole farm experience has been top notch. Keep up the good work!

A note on cherry tomatoes—While I have never tried it myself, CSA member Glen Zeh has found that cherry tomatoes can be frozen. He puts them in Ziploc baggies and brings them back out in the winter. Great idea!!

Now is a great time to share your ideas with recipes with the farm…all you have to do is respond to this post.  We would love to hear from you!


Zucchini Stuffed with Lemon Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Cherry Tomatoes


– 2 large zucchini, cut in half lengthwise

– 3/4 cup fat free or regular ricotta cheese

– 1/2 cup grated reduced fat Mozzarella cheese

– 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

– 2 tablespoons freshly minced parsley

– 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

– 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

– cherry tomatoes, cut in half

– sea salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Spray a large baking pan with cooking spray (or brush with oil). Preheat oven to 400℉.
  2. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds from zucchini halves, leaving about a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice.   Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide mixture among each zucchini half and spread each portion evenly in down the center hollow. Place tomato halves in a tight single layer across each zucchini half until they are covered completely with tomato.
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes or until tomatoes begin to shrink and zucchini is tender. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.


Summer Squash with Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, Feta and Thyme    Serves 6


– 1/4 cup olive oil

– 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

– 2 tablespoons minced garlic

– 1 1/2 lbs. green and yellow squash sliced 1/2 inch thick

– 2 cups cherry tomatoes stemmed and halved

– 12 good black olives, drained, chopped

– 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese


Preheat oven to 425. Combine oil, garlic and thyme in a bowl. Add squash, tomatoes, and olives and toss well. Pour vegetables in a prepared 8 X 12-inch baking dish and sprinkle feta over top. Bake for 20 -25 minutes, or until the squash and tomatoes have thoroughly wilted down but still hold their shape.


Summer Squash Hummus


– 2 teaspoons olive oil

– 1 medium summer squash or zucchini, washed and shredded

– 1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

– 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

– 2 tablespoons lemon juice

– 3 tablespoons tahini

– 1 teaspoon ground cumin

– 1/2 teaspoon paprika, plus more to garnish

– 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


  1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add summer squash and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and water has been cooked off, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. In a food processor or blender, place cooled squash. Add garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon juice, tahini cumin, paprika, salt and 1 tablespoon water. Blend until very smooth. Add more water to reach desired consistency. Place in a shallow bowl. Garnish with parsley and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve with veggies and pita chips


Blistered Cherry Tomato Sauce                                       Serves 4


– 2 pounds mixed cherry tomatoes

– 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

– sea salt and pepper

– 2 tablespoons minced basil


Preheat oven to 450.   Line a baking sheet with foil and spray or brush foil with oil. Toss tomatoes and garlic with olive oil. Spread evenly on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and pepper. Bake, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until most tomatoes have blistered and popped open and there is plenty of juice accumulated in the pan. Transfer tomatoes and juice to a medium bowl. Mix in basil.


Baba Ganoush                                                         


– 2 medium eggplants

– 2 large cloves garlic

– 3 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste

– 1/4 cup tahini

– 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

– 1/2 teaspoon cumin

– 2 tablespoons chopped parsley


  1. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise. Brush all over with olive oil. Preheat grill. Soak smoke chips in water for 20 minutes. Drain. Place woodchips on piece of heavy duty foil. Fold up edges to make an open topped container. Place wood chips and eggplants on grill grate over medium heat. Grill, covered, turning eggplants every 5 minutes, until charred and very soft. Remove eggplants and let cool. Discard cooled wood chips and foil container.
  2. Scoop cooled eggplant flesh away from skin and place flesh in blender or food processor. Add garlic, salt, cumin, tahini and lemon juice and process until very smooth. Taste for salt and lemon juice level. Chill until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature drizzled with olive oil and topped with chopped parsley.


Vegetarian Moussaka                                             Serves 6


– 1 cup bulgur

– 2 cups vegetable broth

– 1 large onion, minced

– 2 teaspoons olive oil

– 1 large Japanese eggplant, diced small

– 3 tablespoons vegetable broth

– 1 large zucchini, diced small

– 1 large portobello mushroom caps, minced

– 3 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 teaspoon dried oregano

– 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

– 2 cups crushed tomatoes or 4 tomatoes, chopped

– 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce

– 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

– 1 teaspoon lemon juice

– 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

– 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

– 1 1/4 cups 2% milk

– 1 egg, lightly beaten

– 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

– 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375. In a medium sized saucepan, heat 2 cups broth until boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in bulgur. Cover and cook for 12 minutes, or until most of liquid is absorbed and bulgur is tender. Remove from heat and set aside with lid on.
  2. Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add eggplant and 3 tablespoons broth, stir to combine, then cover wit lid. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove lid and stir in zucchini and portobello mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally until zucchini is tender and liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and cinnamon and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add bulgur and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick (if using fresh tomatoes this will take at least ½ hours). Remove from heat and stir in parsley and lemon juice. Taste for salt level and add salt and pepper as needed. Spray a 9 X 13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour bulgur mixture into prepared dish and spread evenly.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour to make a roux and cook, stirring frequently for 3 minutes. Add milk all at once and whisk quickly to incorporate milk into roux and avoid lumps. Cook, whisking constantly until mixture is hot and thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Whisk in egg and nutmeg. Pour Bechamel sauce over casserole and spread evenly over top. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
  4. Bake moussaka uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly and top is light golden


Indian Spiced Zucchini Pickles                                        1 quart jar


– 1 medium zucchini

– 1 large summer squash

– 1 small onion

– 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

– 3/4 cup light brown sugar

– 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

– 3 cloves garlic, slivered

– 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds

– 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

– 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

– 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

– 1/4 teaspoon tumeric


Cut zucchini and summer squash into 1/8″ rounds. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, very thinly slice the onion and break apart. Layer onion, zucchini and summer squash in clean wide mouth quart jar up to top.

In medium saucepan, heat vinegar, brown sugar, salt, garlic and spices until it boils. Let boil one minute. Pour hot liquid over layered vegetables. Cool for one hour. Place lid on jar and refrigerate for at least 12 hours before serving. Pickles will keep, refrigerated, for about 3 weeks.


Cucumber Basil Sorbet


– 2/3 cup water

– 2/3 cup sugar

– 3 cups chopped peeled cucumber, about 2 large

– 1/2 cup basil leaves, packed

– 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


  1. In a small saucepan stir sugar and water over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Stop stirring and allow to just come to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Place cucumbers, basil, and sugar syrup in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain mixture over a sieve into a medium bowl. Discard solids in sieve. Stir lemon juice into cucumber mixture. Cover bowl and chill for at least 8 hours.
  3. Using an ice cream mixer, freeze sorbet according to manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively you can place in freezer and break up the ice with a fork every hour or so to make granita. Or you can place cucumber mixture into ice pop forms to make popsicles.




– 6 ripe tomatoes
– 2 thick slices stale rustic bread
– 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
– 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, roughly chopped
– 2 small green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
– 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
– 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
– 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
– Optional Garnish
– (null) cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1/4″ pieces
– green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped into 1/4″ pieces
– (null) peeled and seeded tomatoes, chopped


Place bread flat in a shallow dish or bowl. Cut tomatoes in half and cut out any hard core. Squeeze tomatoes gently over bread to coat with seeds and juice. Turn pieces over after first side is covered and continue with rest of tomatoes on second side of bread. Place seeded and juiced tomato halves in blender along with all other ingredients including bread and juice . Blend until smooth (depending upon the size of your blender you may have to do this in batches). Taste and adjust salt level. Add fresh ground pepper to taste. Chill until ready to serve. Serve cold.

If you like a chunky gazpacho, pour smooth soup into bowls and add garnishes to fit individual tastes (or let guests add them as they wish).


For Mexican style
Substitute 2 jalapenos (cored and seeded) for 1 green pepper
Substitute 3 tablespoons lime juice for Sherry vinegar
Add 2 teaspoons ground coriander
Add 1 teaspoon ground cumin
Add 1 cup cilantro

Optional garnishes
Chopped seeded cucumber
Chopped green bell pepper
Peeled, seeded and chopped tomato
Grilled corn kernels
Sliced green onion


Mexican Seasoning


– 1 tablespoon chili powder

– 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, heaping

– 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, heaping

– 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or less, according to desired degree of heat

– 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

– 1/2 teaspoon paprika

– 2 teaspoons ground cumin

– 1 teaspoon coarse salt

– 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


Mix well and store in airtight container. I like to grind in a morter and pestle to release flavors. Makes about 3 tablespoons.


Mexican Braised String Beans


– 1 1/2 pounds string beans, ends snipped, cut in thirds

– 1 teaspoon coconut oil

– 1/2 large onion, minced

– 1-2 jalapeno, seeded, deribbed, and minced

– 2-3 large tomatoes, about 2 cups chopped

– 2 teaspoons Mexican spice blend

– 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley

– salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat oil on medium heat until hot. Add onion and jalapeño and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft, about 5-8 minutes.
  2. Add chopped tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally until tomatoes soften and begin to give up their juices, about 3-5 minutes. Add string beans and stir well. Cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 10-12 minutes. Add cilantro and serve.

3 thoughts on “Simply Fresh by Julie Wern”

  1. So hard to ignore the abundance of veggies like zucchini despite the “now what do I make” syndrome. A friend shared this tip: shred the zuke (processor or by hand) with skins, let it drain in a colander over a bowl for a few hours, push out excess moisture with a large spoon, then freeze – bags or containers. Can be used for baking, risotto, stews, and is compact. It works. Am also trying this with roasted egg plant: roast whole with skins, peel skins, remove pulp to colander and let sit for 24 hours in colander over bowl in the frig. This is an experiment. Will let you know how it works.

  2. Thanks for the great tip, Jeanne. Often times it is recommended to blanch the veggies before freezing them. I’m glad to hear you found that unnecessary with the zucchini. I can’t see any reason why your eggplant experiment won’t work out as well. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, I blanch veggies like beans, broccoli but because zuke is already full of moisture and any pests can be swept away, works fine.

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