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Loving my neighborly neighbors' garden goodies — and turning them into Summer Squash Bread, Hasselback Tomatoes and Summer Shrimp Succotash

Loving my neighborly neighbors' garden goodies — and turning them into Summer Squash Bread, Hasselback Tomatoes and Summer Shrimp Succotash


Aren’t neighbors (who give you food) the best?

Some friends who live around the corner started a garden earlier this year when the pandemic hit and we were all officially stuck at home. I don’t know what they feed it, but it’s glorious. I’ve done zero work, but I’ve been the lucky recipient of lettuces, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, onions and squash, and I’m putting every single thing to good use.

Squash was an updated touch in a hot, cheesy tomato-onion dip I first made five years ago. The greens and cucumbers made for the freshest-tasting salads, and I used kale — and even squash — in pasta dishes, such as manicotti and a deconstructed lasagna made on the stovetop.

I waste nothing. I eat everything.

A recent haul included more big yellow squash, and while I often chop it, season it and throw it into our air fryer for a quick side dish, I had a lot this time and wanted to do something different. If you’re tired of zucchini bread (and if you’re not, just wait a tick ... it’ll come), I give you summer squash bread. Almost exactly the same thing, but with little yellow flecks instead of green ones.

Hey, the vegetables taste about the same, so it would make sense that they can be used interchangeably in breads. Hearty whole-wheat flour ups the nutritional content, and while it can sometimes dry out baked goods, this bread remains supremely moist. (In fact, don’t even worry about squeezing excess liquid from the grated squash.)

It’s not super sweet, but it’s perfect when slathered with butter for summer breakfast and brunch. You can also freeze it for later, and I’d recommend making a few loaves and doing so.

As a good summer is practically defined by the quantity you consume of its star fruit — tomatoes — I wouldn’t be doing my job if I left out a tomato recipe. Plus, you can only eat so many BLTs and fried green tomatoes — er, wait, no, that’s not right.

What I meant to say was, add this next one right up there with those two summer tomato staples and eat them all on a regular basis.

You know hasselback potatoes, right? It’s that method of slicing into potatoes — but not cutting all the way through — then filling each slot with cheeses or butter or herbs. Well, tomatoes are fair game for such treatment. The deep flavor that comes from roasted tomatoes is heavenly by itself. But tomatoes paired with pesto and cheeses and sprinkled with breadcrumbs and then roasted, well, that’s another level of goodness.

Any size tomato will work here (small ones can be cute as appetizers for your socially distant summer soirees), though I used local ones that were on the larger side so I could make a lot of cuts. Having lots of crevices means more surface area for pesto and cheese — because no one wants wimpy amounts of pesto and cheese.

This is summer on a plate, folks, especially if you’re diligent enough to make your own pesto. I am not, but store-bought is just as good here. Sharp cheeses, such as Asiago and Parmesan, work best, in my opinion, but mild mozzarella would be OK, too.

Moving along, are you ready for some delicious alliteration?

Summer. Shrimp. Succotash.

Put them all together and then put this stuff in your mouth.

Fresh corn, fresh green beans and fresh (or frozen — no judgment, here) lima beans nestle right up against chilled shrimp for an easy lunch or dinner when it’s sweltering outside — like right now.

Simple mayo and vinegar plus flavorful tarragon and parsley are all you need to lightly coat the ingredients. Mayo adds heft, and flavor, but it’s cut by the tang of the vinegar and the herbs. Sub out the mayo if you like — many use Greek yogurt as an alternative — but it’s really best for this dish.

Let the whole thing sit in the fridge before you dig in — it’s best to enjoy the fresh tastes of this summery dish after it has chilled.

I don’t have a garden. I can’t marvel at watching things grow from tiny seeds.

I will, however, happily accept the good graces of neighborly neighbors — and I’ll take it from there.

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