July 5, 2022

Simple, Real Food: Summer Delights

Amanda Cushman

Amanda Cushman

Summer produce is here and with it come many requests for how to use up all this gorgeous fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Amanda Cushman is back with some mouth-watering recipes for our readers.

She notes that something she recommends in all her cooking classes is to make sauces, pestos and vegetable fritters, and try freezing them, commenting, “Then you can enjoy later in the year when you have a hankering for fresh basil, zucchini or mint.”

Here are some delicious recipes to utilize  the abundant produce of summer. They are, in order:

Feta Pesto
Simple Tomato Sauce
Papaya-Lime Salsa
Minted Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Yogurt Sauce


Feta Pesto

Makes 1 cup


1 clove garlic, peeled

1 large bunch basil washed, dried, stems removed

8 oz. feta cheese

3 Tb. toasted pine nuts

Fresh pepper, to taste


  1. Place the garlic in a processor and chop finely. Add the basil, feta, nuts and pepper and blend well. Add a small amount of water to produce a smooth sauce. Transfer to a container and freeze or serve at room temperature.

Simple Tomato Sauce

Makes 2 cups


2 Tb. olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

Salt, pepper

1/3 cup torn basil leaves

10 to 15 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

1/3 cup red wine (optional)

2 tsp. sugar or 2 small carrots, peeled, diced


  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic until softened about 5 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add salt, pepper, basil, tomatoes, wine and sugar or carrots and cook over low heat until thickened slightly about 45 minutes. Season to taste and puree if desired. Freeze in plastic containers or use on pasta, grilled fish, chicken or as a sauce for vegetables.

Papaya-Lime Salsa

Makes 2 cups


1 small ripe papaya, mango or half a pineapple

1/2 red pepper, finely diced

3 scallions, very thinly sliced

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1/2 English cucumber, seeded, diced

2 limes or lemons juiced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

1 Tb. chopped cilantro

2 Tb. chopped mint

Salt, pepper, to taste


1. Peel the papayas and remove seeds, finely dice. Combine the papaya and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir and taste for seasoning. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

zucchini_frittersMinted Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

Serves 4


1 pound zucchini, coarsely grated


3 scallions, minced

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/2 to ¾ cup plain breadcrumbs

3 Tb. chopped mint

½ cup chopped Italian parsley

1 egg, lightly beaten

Fresh pepper

Vegetable oil for cooking


1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

3 Tb. lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tb. chopped mint

Salt, pepper


1        Place the zucchini in a colander and toss with 2 tsp. of salt. Place over a plate and weigh down with a heavy can, drain for 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator. Squeeze out all the excess water.

2        Add the zucchini to a medium bowl with the scallions, cheese, breadcrumbs, mint, parsley, egg and fresh pepper. Using slightly moistened hands, form the zucchini mixture into 12 balls. Flatten them to make a ¾ inch patty. Test one out in a small skillet for seasoning. Re-season with salt and pepper if needed.

3        Heat a 2 1/2 -inches of oil in a medium saucepan and fry the patties until golden on both sides about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt.

4        Meanwhile, combine the yogurt, lemon, garlic, mint, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir and taste for seasoning. Serve the patties warm or room temperature with the yogurt sauce.

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