I recently prepared the food spreads for a summer garden party at Roxanne’s Dried Flowers, where I spend many of my daytime hours playing with dried arrangements, my camera and photoshop. The party concept was to inspire attendees to host their own backyard gatherings, with the goal of spending more time enjoying summer and less time stressing over food and decor. As one obsessed with food, my challenge was to demonstrate how presentation and thoughtful pairings render visually appealing and appetizing foods without excessive effort. On that note, I bring you these very loose “recipes” for your own summer socials…
Savory Melon Salad
Garden Fresh Basil
Fresh Mozzarella in Olive Oil & Herbs
Variations: Balsamic Vinegar, Lemon Zest, Flaky Sea Salt, Cracked Pepper
Zucchini Spread with Cucumber Slices & Garden Fresh Basil (Recipe Below)
Brie with Berries & A Honey Drizzle
Garden Fresh Flowering Herbs for aroma & presentation
Garden Fresh Mint
Variations: Honey, Jam, Fig, Raspberries, Sage, Verbena,
In the vein of grandmother style cooking and approximated proportions, this loose recipe is a great way to take advantage of summer’s abundance of zucchini and herbs. You can very simply feed many a friend from your garden or local farm stand. I sourced the zucchini and onions from Garfield Community Farm, and the fresh herb and green pepper garnishes came from Roxanne’s home garden.
Farm Fresh Zucchini Spread for Crostini
Yield: Party Size
3 small-medium, local yellow onions, sliced
2 large local zucchinis, grated
3-4 Tablespoons organic Lemon Zest
1/2 cup organic Lemon Juice
1-2 cups organic ricotta cheese
salt and fresh crushed pepper to taste
local green pepper
Coat the bottom of a wide, thick-bottomed sauté pan with olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and butter (about 1 teaspoon per onion). Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions. If the onions appear to be drying too quickly, add water.
Once the onions are caramelized, add the grated zucchini and stir. The mixture will become very liquidy. Continue to simmer until liquid reduces, 20-30 minutes (this time will be drastically reduced if you’re not making the party portion of this recipe).
Remove from heat. Drain off excess liquids if need be. Cool to room temperature (can cool in the refrigerator if need be).
Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice and ricotta cheese to your desired creaminess.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve on baguette slices with fresh cucumber and garden fresh green pepper slices.
Happy Garden Gathering!