Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Kitchen Gardener Cook

As the days shorten and we get to the finale of the summer/early fall harvest, celebrate with a menu designed to highlight that last glimmer of summer. Tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and plums are still available in the Mid-Atlantic as the summer produce merges into fall plantings.

Ciabatta Panzanella

Grilled Eggplant Rolatini

Crispy Kale Ribbons

Plum  Streusal Tart

Ciabatta Panzanella

Serves 4

As an Italian standard this robust salad makes use of the last tomatoes from the garden as well as any leftover bread.


  • 2 cups cubed toasted country bread or ciabatta.
  • 2 cups chopped tomato
  • 1 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh chopped basil
  • 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • About 1/4 cup Feta cheese

Toss toasted cubes of bread with chopped tomato, cucumber, red bell pepper, olives, olive oil, chopped basil and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. Top with Feta cheese.

Grilled Eggplant Rolatini

Serves 4

  • 2 small to medium eggplant, cut lengthwise into 8, ½ “pieces
  • olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1, 15 ounce container whole milk ricotta
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for topping
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups homemade (or quality pasta sauce), warmed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a casserole dish with nonstick vegetable spray.

Heat a grill or a grill pan over medium high heat. Season the sliced eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant for 3 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned and soft. Let cool.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, beaten egg, garlic, cheeses, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Place about 3 tablespoons of filling on the thick end of each eggplant slice. Roll the eggplant up completely and place seam side down in the prepared baking dish.

Top the rolled eggplant with 1 ½ cups of tomato sauce and the additional parmesan. Save the remaining sauce for extra topping.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes. If desired, place the dish under the broiler to brown the cheese. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.




Crispy Kale Ribbons

Serves 6

Even kids love this recipe and what a great way for everyone to get their leafy greens. The ribbons are also a fun crunchy snack or hors d’oeuvres. I've tried the whole leaf for flash baking, but the ribbons allow you to toss so all they crisp evenly.

  • 1 bunch of kale, (about 1 pound), cored, leaves rinsed and thoroughly dried
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt, to taste.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Flatten kale leaves and remove the tough center ribs. Stack leaves and roll them together, then slice crosswise into chiffonade strips about 1/2 inch wide.


Place kale in a medium bowl. Toss with olive oil, garlic and salt, making sure leaves are well coated with oil. Spread in a single layer evenly on a large greased baking sheet.


Bake, tossing twice, until leaves are crispy but not burned, about 5 minutes. Serve as is as a side dish, snack, or use as a topping for grilled meats, poultry or poached eggs as a breakfast.

Plum  Streusal Tart

Makes 1 9-inch tart

Cream Cheese Pastry

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons milk



  • 6 purple plums, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel Topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled

For the dough mix butter, cream cheese, salt and flour to form soft dough. Chill at least two hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Split the dough (the remainder can be refrigerated up to one week or frozen) and roll it out to a 9-inch circle, 1/4 inch thick on a floured surface. Place in a tart pan or shallow pie tin, pressing around the sides and along the edges.

For the filling: Toss the plums with the brown sugar and nutmeg. Pile the plum mixture in the center of the pastry and then spread evenly in the tart.

For the streusel topping: Combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon together. Using your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles cornmeal. Sprinkle the streusel on top of the tart.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes longer. Serve warm.

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