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Joni Woolf: Recipes for late summer dining

As summer slowly transitions to fall (very slowly, it seems) we have been looking for recipes that require little time in the kitchen. After all, it’s still nearing 100 degrees in daylight hours, and the kitchen is not where we want to be. The following recipes are easy to follow, do not require a lot of time in the kitchen, and best of all, are good to the palate. So, use up all those late summer zucchinis, buy a few chicken breasts, and serve a tasty meal to those you love — or enjoy on your own. It’s easy. Get started.


Chicken Mediterranean

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

2 cups chicken broth

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large sweet onion, sliced

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

16 Kalamata olives pitted and sliced

½ cup dry sherry

2 tablespoons capers, chopped

1 ¼ teaspoons fresh basil, chopped

3 large, fresh tomatoes, chopped and seeded (they’re still available in local markets)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In medium saucepan bring chicken broth to a boil over medium-high heat until reduced to 1 cup. Set aside. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat and add onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes, sautéing until onions are tender. Remove to a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together olives, sherry, capers, basil, and tomatoes. In skillet, over medium-high heat, melt butter and add chicken breasts. Cook 2 minutes on each side to sear meat (do not move them during the two minutes), then add the chicken broth and remaining ingredients. Place uncovered in preheated 350-degree F. oven and bake for 35 minutes. (Note: This recipe is also excellent substituting grouper or red snapper for the chicken. Cooking times and temperatures stay the same.)


Use up the Zucchini

7-8 medium zucchini, cut into ¼-inch slices

2 teaspoons salt

8 slices bacon, diced

1 large onion, chopped

1 large clove garlic, minced

4 slices bread, crumbled

2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Black pepper to taste

1 (15-oz.) can tomato sauce

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil 13 x 9-inch oven-proof dish. Cook zucchini in 2 cups boiling water and 1 teaspoon salt for 3-5 minutes. Drain. Cook bacon until crisp. Drain and put in a bowl. Add onion and garlic to bacon fat. Saute 5-6 minutes. Drain. Add to bowl. Add everything except the Parmesan cheese to the bowl and toss. Spoon into baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly.


Now finish off the meal with a super-easy lemon tart, light enough for a hot summer day.


Lemon Tart, Made Easy

1 large lemon

1 stick butter, softened

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

6-8 3-inch tart shells, 1-inch deep, or 12 3-inch shells, ½-inch deep

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut lemon in eighths, removing seeds. Chop lemon, including rind, coarsely, in food processor. Add sugar, butter (cut into chunks) and eggs. Blend until well mixed. Pour into the tart shells and bake 30-35 minutes. Smaller shells take only 20 minutes. Serve warm or cold; dust with powdered sugar as garnish.


These three recipes are variations of recipes from The Fresh Market and Friends, a cookbook published by The Fresh Market in 2003. This has been one of my favorite cookbooks, one that I return to time and again — I alter, substitute, revise. But their basic recipes remain among my favorites. I hope these will become some of your favorites, too.


Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at



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