Originally created 08/27/03

Farm fresh



If a trip to a produce stand or a backyard vegetable garden bumper crop has you searching for something to do with the season's bounty, consider this recipe for Farm Stand Stew.

It's the perfect recipe to prepare after a visit to Main Street Augusta's new Farmers Market on Broad, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through October at Augusta Common, 800 block downtown between Broad and Reynolds streets.

The market features loads of fresh vegetables and fruit, and extras such as baked goods, cheeses, hand-crafted items and boiled peanuts.

Having grown up in central Florida, I'm thrilled to see the beginnings of a good Saturday market in Augusta. The Winter Park, Fla., farmers market near my home in Longwood, Fla., is a weekly community event, with loads of fresh produce, potted plants, cut flowers and gourmet foods. A visit there on a Saturday morning nets you a quick, gourmet dinner that evening, and my hope is that the Augusta market will catch on and be a boon for area cooks.

Stews typically are winter fare, but this old-fashioned combination of fresh vegetables is a light and healthy entree or side dish. This is an old recipe that would have been a side dish at a big Southern Sunday supper (the kind where there at least five different vegetable side dishes on the table), which I've had on file for years. There's a similar recipe called Colache by noted Augusta cooking-school instructor Amelia Cartledge in Tea-Time at the Masters, published by the Junior League of Augusta.

I like to serve the stew atop cornbread as the center of a vegetarian meal. However, the medley also makes a great accompaniment to grilled chicken.

The stew has a decidedly Southern influence, and can be made more so by substituting bacon fat for the butter. Also, you can saute the vegetables in olive oil and add some crushed garlic and fresh herbs from your garden to give the stew an Italian accent.

FARM STAND STEW

2 small yellow squash, washed and diced

2 small zucchini, washed and diced

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 bell peppers, preferably a combination of green and red or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into strips

4 tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges

Salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

1 cup of fresh corn (kernels cut from 2 ears) or frozen corn

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add squash and saute until it begins to brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Add remaining tablespoon of butter to pan. Add onions and peppers and sautÈ until wilted. Stir in tomatoes and season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in corn and cook 5 minutes more. Return squash to pan and heat through.

Makes 4 main dish or 8 side dish servings.

FARMERS MARKET ON BROAD: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 25; fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, boiled peanuts, baked goods and unique crafts; free; 722-8000.

Nutrition information per serving: 183 calories, 5 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams fiber, 7 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 16 milligrams cholesterol and 81 milligrams sodium.

Nutrition analysis provided by Michelle Baglio, a licensed and registered dietitian of the Augusta District Dietetic Association. Send questions via e-mail to augustadietitian@yahoo.com.

COMING SEPT. 3: Chow mein cookies. See Karin prepare the recipe at noon Tuesday on WJBF-TV (Channel 6).

Write to Karin Calloway in care of The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or send e-mail to karin.calloway@comcast.net. You can find previous Quick Cooking recipes through the online archive at augustachronicle.com/karin.