August is a delicious month. Measured by the bounty of gardens and farmers’ markets here in the midwest, August is the tastiest month of the year. Sure, May brings fresh asparagus, June produces peas, and tomatoes start coming in July. But the true garden feast begins in August. Throughout this hot, humid, dog-day month, the land is exploding with some of the best fresh foods: green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, corn, eggplant, herbs… and that’s just the beginning.
There is a burgeoning movement to eat local. Eating seasonally is the best way to eat locally, and what a season summer is! By August, our garden produces such a genuine cornucopia of delicious produce that it makes eating local a breeze. August also makes cooking a lot more fun since there is so much variety coming all at once. I like the adventure of creating different combinations of produce (and using up what needs to be eaten.) Tomatoes, corn and basil make great additions to risotto. Pasta is delicious topped with a simple sauté of summer squash, onions and chard. I love the mixture of corn, beans and squash, also known as the Three Sisters, inspired by American Indian gardens. These gardens are quite ingenious in the way they combine the needs and growing habits of the plants. While we don’t exactly replicate this method in our garden, the three foods sure make a tasty combination when cooked together.
In addition to gardening, I enjoy making cheese and I’m always looking for ways to use up goat cheese. I could eat it spread on bread every day, but not everyone in my family feels the same. A few years ago, I had extra chevre, beans and garden-fresh veggies so I threw them all together and created a family favorite.
Three Sisters and a Goat
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. cumin
1 medium zucchini, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1 cup black beans, rinsed (I cook up a large batch of dry beans and freeze them for later use)
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)
¼ – ½ cup soft goat cheese (chevre)
½ tsp. salt or more to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano and cumin. Sauté for another minute. Add the zucchini, corn, beans and optional jalapeno, and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the zucchini is tender. Stir in cheese and salt to taste.
I usually use this filling to make enchilada casserole. I layer corn tortillas, this mixture and enchilada sauce (fresh tomatoes make a great sauce!) and sprinkle cheese on top. The filling is also wonderful in quesadillas or burritos. I generally add fresh cilantro and sliced scallions on top of the casserole or tucked inside the burrito and quesadillas. Enjoy!
Rachel Sandhorst lives on an acreage just a few miles from the Eagle Cam in Decorah, Iowa. Her regular activities are usually put on hold in the summer while she’s in the garden. She shares her love of food, nature and life with her husband and two daughters.