Readers' Corner

With summer on the minds of just about everyone I know, it shouldn't surprise you that this month's Readers' Corner column is packed with some wonderful summer dishes that are bursting with the robust flavor of fresh vegetables. Whether you get your veggies from the grocery store, a local farmer's market, or your own garden, these neat recipes are sure to be a hit with your family.

A special thank you to everyone who contributed during the month of April. If you think this month's article is looking a little slim, it's true! But it isn't for lack of reader ideas. We've gotten so many Mother's Day gift ideas that we're featuring a special article on it this month that includes many of those ideas. Since this worked out so well, we're going to try it again! The staff of Seasoned Cooking is planning a special article on picnic ideas for later this summer. We want your ideas! Share your thoughts on great picnic recipes (for serving cold or hot, grilled or not), fun thoughts on activities for the kids and "older" kids, and ideas about how to add punch to your picnic presentation. Just use the form below to post your ideas. Thanks in advance.

Our first recipe idea comes from Christopher Schaefer, who has this to say about his contribution of Summer Veggi Chili:

    "I like to cook- which is why I like coming to "Seasoned" for new ideas that can wow my guests and family.  Recently, I kinda concocted a summer soup/chili.  When I first thought of it, I was going to post the recipe on my wall outside my cubicle at the office.  But then I thought about your magazine."

Summer Veggi Chili

Summer Veggi Chili
by Christopher Schaefer
Makes a wonderfully light and refreshing soup. Serve warm or cold.
  • 3-4 c. water
  • 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 4 stalks celery- chopped
  • 4 carrots- chopped
  • 2 small potatoes
  • 2 small white onions
  • basil
  • parsley
  • pepper and salt

Add chopped vegetables and seasonings into 4 qt. slow cooker. Add water, tomato sauce and paste. Stir well. Turn slow cooker on to "high" for 5 hours. Add time under "low" setting for desired softness of vegetables.

  • Yields: 7-12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10-15 minutes

Christopher's idea sparked a neat response from another reader. Sue Bendel's been finding ways to make recipes work for more than one dish. Here's what she's got to say about Sue's Three Bean Gazpacho:

    "I make a three bean salad that can also be used to make a nice gazpacho. It saves time and manages to convince my husband that I've slaved over two different dishes!"

Sue's Three Bean Gazpacho

Sue's Three Bean Gazpacho
by Sue Bendel
I like to make up a full batch of three bean salad and use half of it for gazpacho.
  • 2 1/2 c. sliced green beans, steamed
  • 4 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 T. fresh dill
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 c. chopped green pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. sliced carrot
  • 1 c. cubed cucumber
  • 1/2 c. sliced sweet onion
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 2 c. coarsely chopped tomato
  • 1 bottle V8 juice (for gazpacho only)

To make a three bean salad, combine all ingredients except the V8. Mix well and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.

To make a nice gazpacho soup, add the V8 juice to the three bean salad and mix well. Chill for at least one hour.

  • Yields: 12 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes, plus chilling time
Well, there you have it. If you've got a great idea that you want to share with us, share away! Who might be gracing the pages of Seasoned Cooking too!