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End of Summer’s Seasonal Best

By Nancy Eisman
Image of Baby Heirloom Tomatoes
As summer begins to wind down, it’s only natural to want to savor Mother Nature’s seasonal specialties while they’re still at their best. Melons, grapes, and stone fruits to be sure – we can’t seem to get enough of their mouthwatering sweetness. And on the savory side, zucchini, corn, basil, garlic, and tomatoes, especially the heirloom varieties, are summer standouts that also happen to stand together deliciously.

A while back I saw a segment on TV where Martha Stewart made a one-pot pasta dish, combining fresh tomatoes, onions, basil, olive oil, dried pasta, and water, and cooking them all together until done about 30 minutes later. It looked amazing – wow, one-pot, right? Then a week or so ago I found a variation of that recipe on the Smitten Kitchen website. She had taken the pasta and substituted farro which I thought was a smart swap for more nutrition and texture.

Using both Martha S and Smitten K’s recipes as inspiration, and to make a dish that I feel is even more satisfying and quintessentially summer, I grilled some fresh corn and zucchini and added them to the pot after the other ingredients were completely cooked. My finished dish, reminiscent of risotto but without the 24/7 attention and a little more character, was delicious as is. Typically I would add Parmesan cheese for the big finish, but since I’m going dairy-free when I can, I found a recipe that makes a fine replacement. Earthy pine nuts, plus nutritional yeast (check the bulk bins at your favorite healthy foods store), and a bit of sea salt worked nicely, and the added protein was a bonus.

Whether you make a one-pot pasta, or my two-pot farro, the basic concept of quick, stove-top cooking with the best of the season’s produce will surely be your idea of a perfect end-of-summer dish too. Include a simple salad of seasonal greens to complete this delicious, plant-based meal. Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Image of End of Summer Farro
End of Summer Farro

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
¾ cup Fresh Corn Kernels
¾ cup Zucchini, cubed
Pinch of Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 cup Farro
½ cup Perfect Sweet Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 ½ cups Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, halved
¾ cup Water
¾ cup Vegetable Broth
1 + 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2/3 cup Basil leaves, scissor snipped
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 (3 ounces) package Pine Nuts
1½ teaspoons Nutritional Yeast
½ teaspoon Sea Salt

To cook the corn and zucchini, use a grill pan brushed with olive oil, add the corn and zucchini, and grill over high heat about 4 minutes on each side until vegetables begin to caramelize. Set aside.
Image of farro in a bowl
To make the pine nut “Parmesan”, place the pine nuts, nutritional yeast, and sea salt in a food processor and pulse until mixture achieves the texture of a crumbly Parmesan cheese. Set aside

To make the one-pot farro, in a large sauté pan or medium sized stock pot add the farro, onion, garlic, tomatoes, water, vegetable broth, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Stir to combine, bring mixture to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer 30-35 minutes until liquid has absorbed and farro is tender. (During the cooking time stir the mixture about every 10 minutes.)

Taste and add sea salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the corn, zucchini, and fresh basil, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Finish with some of the pine nut mixture and serve.
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