In the summer heat, vegetables can make you feel refreshed and re-energized. Sara Foster, owner of Foster’s Market in North Carolina and author of “Fresh Every Day,” was invited on the “Today” show to share her recipes for a fresh, tasty, veggie meal. Here are her recipes.
Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Carrot Soup with Tarragon Serves 6 to 8 (makes about 2 quarts)
4 tablespoons olive oil2 tablespoons unsalted butter2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped4 medium carrots, chopped1 large yellow onion, chopped4 shallots, chopped1 pear, peeled, cored, and chopped3 garlic cloves, chopped6 cups chicken or vegetable broth4 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, cored, seeded, and chopped 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or 2 teaspoons dried
Melt the olive oil and butter together in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the raw bell peppers, carrots, onion, shallots and pear. Reduce the heat to low, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring often until very soft. Add the garlic and cook for several minutes longer, being careful not to let the garlic burn.
Add the broth, roasted peppers, crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper to the saucepan, and stir to mix. Bring the broth to a low boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes. Cool slightly.
Working in batches if necessary, pour the soup into the bowl of a food processor or the jar of a blender fitted with a metal blade, and puree until smooth. (Or puree the soup directly in the pot using an immersion blender.) Pour the soup back into the pot in which you cooked it. Stir in the tarragon, season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Serve hot or chilled. This soup, refrigerated in an airtight container, will keep for several days. It also freezes well.
Fresh Mozzarella Salad With Avocado, Roasted Corn and Grape Tomatoes Serves 4 to 6
4 ears sweet corn, in the husk1⁄2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes, or bocconcini2 ripe avocados, halved, peeled, and cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes1⁄2 pint grape or other small tomato varieties, halved8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin stripsSea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste1⁄2 cup Summer Herb Vinaigrette (recipe follows)Several handfuls of young arugula or baby greens
Preheat the oven to 400º F. Soak the corn in the sink or a bowl filled with cold water for 10 to 15 minutes. Place on a baking sheet with sides and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until the kernels are tender. Cool to room temperature, then pull off and discard the husks and silks. Cut the kernels off the cob into a large bowl.
Add the mozzarella, avocados, tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper to the bowl with the corn. Drizzle 1⁄2 cup of the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently. Be careful not to over-mix or mash the avocado. Season with more salt, pepper or vinaigrette to taste. Serve on a bed of the arugula or baby greens.
Summer Herb VinaigretteMakes about 1-1⁄4 cups
1⁄3 cup red wine vinegar2 teaspoons Dijon mustardGrated zest and juice of 1 lemon2 or 3 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oilSea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine the vinegar, mustard, lemon zest and juice, basil, oregano, and parsley in a small bowl, and stir to mix. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until all of the oil is incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Use immediately or store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days.
Cornbread Panzanella With Avocado Serves 4 to 6
4 cups cornbread in 1⁄2-inch cubes (Skillet Cornbread recipe follows, or use store-bought), preferably day-old1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oilSea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste2 beefsteak or large heirloom tomatoes (about 1 pound)1⁄2 small red onion, thinly sliced1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips, plus more for garnish, or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves1 avocado, halved, pit removed, and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
Preheat the oven to 450º F. Place the cornbread cubes in a large mixing bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the salt and pepper. Spread the cornbread in a single even layer on a baking sheet, and bake until toasted and golden, about 15 minutes. Let the cornbread cool slightly.
Return the cornbread to the bowl you tossed it in. Add the tomatoes, onion, salt and pepper. Whisk the remaining olive oil with the vinegar, and drizzle over the salad. Add the basil and the avocado cubes and toss gently, taking care not to mash the avocado. Transfer the panzanella to a serving platter or individual plates, top with the additional basil, and serve immediately.
Skillet CornbreadMakes 1 cornbread, 10- or 12-inch round
2 tablespoons olive oil or bacon grease1-1⁄2 cups yellow cornmeal1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour3 tablespoons sugar2 teaspoons baking powder1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda2 teaspoons salt2 cups well-shaken buttermilk2 large eggs, lightly beaten2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
Preheat the oven to 425º F. Pour the olive oil or bacon grease into a 10- or 12-inch cast-iron (or other ovenproof) skillet. Tilt to coat the bottom and sides of the skillet with the oil or grease and place in the preheated oven.
Stir the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter, and stir just until the dry ingredients are no longer visible. Don’t overmix.
Remove the hot skillet from the oven. Pour the batter into the skillet, return it to the oven, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cornbread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cornbread rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting it.