As we move into July, over half of America’s proud gardeners – especially those living in the southern regions of the country — are starting to work a little harder to stay ahead of what their plants are yielding. Many are overrun, in particular, by zucchini and cucumbers, two of the more popular high-yielding plants. Plus, thanks to grillers and meateaters working overtime yesterday, your frig is now stocked with lots of July 4 leftovers: namely pork and any number of wild game meats that hit the fire.
So here’s a reminder: tacos make good use of seasonal, homegrown veggies, especially if you’re growing tired of vegetables served as sides along with traditional meat dishes. And how many times can you slice squash, zucchini and eggplant for grilling before growing pretty tired of that approach?
Cucumber Taco Slaw
This slaw calls for BBQ sauce, which you might leave out if you’re pairing the slaw with BBQ-glazed pork or wild meat leftover from July 4. In cooler months, it’s tough to get motivated by taco slaw when alternatives include melty cheese, refried beans and hot salsa but, in summer, a refreshing cuke-based slaw is as appealing as a hot bowl of chili on Super Bowl Sunday.
Bonus Note: Slaw always pairs well with fish tacos. So if your holiday was spent fishing on the marsh, pond or lake, get out your frying pan and oil and don’t even bother putting yesterday’s catch in the freezer.
2 cups chopped red cabbage (or packaged coleslaw from store)
1 large English cucumber, chopped
1 cup cilantro chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped finely
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tbs. sugar
2 tbs. BBQ sauce
1 tbs. cumin
Salt & Pepper to taste
3 tbs. apple cider vinegar
½ cup mayo
In a large bowl, mix together lemon juice, sugar, vinegar, BBQ sauce, and cumin until well blended and sugar is dissolved.
Whisk in mayo and taste for seasoning, adding salt & pepper to taste.
Toss in slaw veggies and herbs and coat well with dressing. Set in fridge.
Cucumber Salad with Soy, Ginger and Garlic
If you’re tired of BBQ and something totally different sounds appealing, this cucumber salad is similar to an Asian cucumber slaw and makes a perfect, summertime garnish for tacos.
2 large thin-skinned cucumbers(about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced thin
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 small garlic clove, minced or pureed
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
⅛ teaspoon cayenne (more to taste)
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
3 tablespoons sunflower oil or grapeseed oil
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, sliced very thin
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Sprinkle the cucumbers with a generous amount of salt and let sit in a colander in the sink for 15 minutes. Rinse and dry on a kitchen towel. Transfer to a salad bowl.
Whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, cayenne, and pepper. Whisk in the sesame oil and the sunflower or grapeseed oil. Toss with the cucumbers, scallions, and cilantro. Chill until ready to serve.
Pork Tacos with Zucchini-Corn Relish
Here’s one if you’re looking to get ahead of the zucchini coming off your plants. It’s simple and requires little prep.
Bonus Note: Consider quickly sautéing your July 4 leftovers — the pork or BBQ’ed wild-game meat — in a combination of chili powder and ground cumin, along with a little garlic powder and salsa to tweak the flavor of the leftover meat, making it taco-ready.
½ lb zucchini, diced
1 c corn kernels
1 sm red onion, diced
⅓ c apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
Cilantro, for serving
Zucchini, corn, onion, vinegar, and honey in large bowl. Top tacos with zucchini-corn relish and cilantro.
This makes about 8 tacos.
Featured Photo: iStock