This recipe really could simply be called “Summer” because it has all the essences of the season—the sunshiny taste of tomatoes, the sweetness of corn, the crunch of Blue Lake green beans, the tang of basil—all in every single bite. It literally IS summer in a bowl.
And you’ll want to serve this in bowls, alongside a thick slice of country bread for the juices. The list of ingredients makes this recipe look like it’ll take forever, but if you have one person handling the prep (or mise en place) and one manning the stove, and you’re both sipping a fresh white wine, you’ll be eating in no time. For a bit more heft, slice some prepared polenta about 1/2 inch thick, drizzle with olive oil and brown under the broiler, and serve the vegetables over the top.
A couple of notes:
You could stroll the farmer’s market and pick up whatever is fresh and adapt this endlessly. Add diced carrots at the beginning. Dice and blanch some freshly-dug white potatoes; add at the end. Replace the chickpeas with kidney beans, or omit them. Add some red-pepper flakes if you want a kick. If you fancy more of a soup, add a bit of vegetable stock or water. The recipe calls for canned tomatoes; which tend to have more liquid than fresh ones. If you’ve got a glut of gorgeous summer tomatoes on hand, by all means skip the canned version. Got pesto? Then drizzle some on top of each serving. Or make a fall version that plays with butternut or acorn squash and chopped fall greens.
Serves 4 generously, with leftovers for lunch
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large or 2 small onions, halved lengthwise and then cut into half-moons
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and then cut into half-moons
1 summer squash, same as above
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
Large handful green beans, trimmed and cut into 1″ lengths
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 tomato, chopped
3 ears of corn, kernels removed (see Kitchen Technique)
1/4 cup slivered basil
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
2-inch piece of Parmesan rind, optional (see Kitchen Tip)
First, do all your prep work. If the green beans are large and rather tough, blanch in salted boiling water for about 5 minutes.
Heat about 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a Dutch oven or very large skillet. Add onion, saute until translucent, then add garlic and stir for about a minute. Add red pepper and squashes; saute until lightly softened. Add Italian seasoning, and S&P. Add canned and fresh tomato, simmer about 5 minutes. Add corn, give it another 3 minutes. Add beans and chickpeas, and simmer until they’re heated through and vegetables are cooked but not mushy. Taste and adjust S&P; at the very last minute, add the basil.
Kitchen Technique: Corn kernels tend to skitter across the counter when you’re slicing them off the cob. To make the job easier, stand the cob pointy-end down in a large wooden salad bowl (wood is preferable, but any wide, shallow dish would work), and run the knife downward along the cob, trimming just the kernels. When you’ve removed all the kernels, run the dull edge of the blade along the cob to release the juices into the bowl.
Kitchen Tip: Don’t throw out the hard rind when you’ve grated the block of Parmesan down to a nubbin. Stick it in a plastic zip-top bag in the freezer. Parmesan rind adds flavor to soups, stews and Italian sauces; simply toss a 2-inch or so piece into the pot as the liquid is simmering, letting all that salty, cheesy goodness infuse; remove before serving.