Refrigerator clean-out and farmers market trip inspire dinner

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces, just good food from fresh ingredients.”

Julia Child

You know what it’s like- you’re getting ready for vacation and you know you have some stuff in your fridge that won’t last until you get back. I hate wasting food, and before we left for vacation I was wracking my brain on how to use up some food we had in our fridge. My parents were also visiting for the day and we decided to go to our local farmers market to look around. I love going to markets and picking up in-season produce and supporting local businesses. This farmers market trip, combined with my need to clean out our fridge, inspired a delicious dinner that came together quick, and highlighted our produce finds.

Our first find- these BEAUTIFUL Chocolate Cherokee heirloom tomatoes.

The meal started to come together in my mind after tasting one of these tomatoes at the market. I’m salivating just thinking about them now! They were perfectly sweet with a rich tomato flavor, and I knew that would perfect on some nice toasted bread for dinner! I just sliced them up, sprinkled them with salt and pepper and a little olive oil, then layered in some basil.

I mean it’s peach season. Need I say more?

I could have a meal on market samples alone, especially in the summer! The samples of these peaches and the tomatoes are what sold us. They were so fresh and sweet that we didn’t need to do anything to them other than slice them up.

Ciabatta bread was our final market purchase. We toasted it with olive oil to make these crispy food vessels. I also had some left over salami and brie to add to the spread. Rather than calling these “leftovers,” I’m calling them Charcuterie!

Lastly we visited the bread stand and browsed their selection. You may have had ciabatta as the bread for a panini because it toasts up very nicely and can stand up to sauces and toppings without getting soggy. We sliced it about 1/4 in thick, arranged it on the baking sheet, and quickly doused them in olive oil. Toast them under the broiler once everything else is out of the oven, but keep a close eye on it because bread can go from beautifully toasted to a charcoal brick in what seems like the blink of an eye! This bread was the perfect vessel for our tomatoes and peaches.

We passed olive oil and a good quality balsamic vinegar at the table to go along with the toasts, peaches, and tomatoes. Try topping your toast with a slice of brie, a few peaches, a basil leaf and a drizzle of balsamic. You won’t be disappointed!

Zucchini Tart- My zucchini came from a large one that went a few too many days in the garden. That’s why the slices look like green apples because I had to scoop out the seeds like you would in a larger squash. A “normal” zucchini slice will be round and more uniform. I think their shape adds to the beautify of this rustic tart.

And the grand finale allowed me to use up the zucchini in my fridge. I also had about 1/4 cup of herbed goat cheese, a few oz of cream cheese that was already opened, and the remainder of a tub of plain greek yogurt. I had some fresh dill that was already probably past it’s prime as well.

When we found the produce at the market I began to think of a more veggie-forward menu and of a way to use up the zucchini. I searched the internet for inspiration and Voila! Zucchini Tart! I adapted a recipe I found online to use the ingredients I had on hand and I was really pleased with the outcome. You can find the recipe below.

If you’re thinking of starting a garden and you have a decent amount of space, I would recommend growing zucchini. You can start the plant from seed once the ground warms up (plant them in a small mound) and 1-2 plants will produce plenty of zucchini for a family to enjoy all summer long. This is a blessing, but I’m warning you now- you will get tired of eating zucchini! I’ve had to become creative in finding ways to use it, and recently was introduced to a zoodle pesto salad that I’ll have to share at a later time. I digress!

This dinner also left me thinking about the beauty of hospitality. My parents don’t get to visit very often, and I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. I didn’t want to spend hours in the kitchen making a complicated meal, but I wanted to have something special that we could all share together. Sometimes the best form of hospitality is a quick and simple meal that allows for more time to enjoy conversations at the table, rather than something that takes me away from my guests to prepare over a longer period of time.

So now it’s your turn! What do you have in your fridge that can inspire dinner tonight? Are there any fresh finds at your local market that you can prepare minimally to highlight their natural flavor? Share with me what you make!

-Kayla