Summer’s end brings bold flavors together

Joseph Erdos

With summer now officially at a close, I’m still not ready to say goodbye. My garden, though less productive, has a lot of vegetables that are still ripening. But, alas, the cooler weather and shorter days will bring an end to summer’s bounty.

But with all the beautiful late summer produce available at farmers’ markets, like squash, peppers and tomatoes, there’s a lot of summery cooking that can still be done.

Take the opportunity to make a tomato sauce, soup, saute or stir-fry. I love stir-frying because it’s such a fun and easy method for cooking up a meal quickly. Plus, you can pack it with vegetables. For this late summer stir-fry, I use zucchini, bell peppers and oyster mushrooms. And one of my favorite herbs, Thai basil, makes an aromatic and flavorful addition. What could be a better dish for using up summer vegetables than this?

With Thai flavors, much like Pad Thai, I use sweet tamarind paste and savory fish sauce to flavor the dish. Soy sauce, garlic and ginger round out the flavor profile. It’s all served over rice noodles, but there’s one thing to keep in mind. The secret to a well-made stir-fry is cooking the dish in smaller portions so that everything stays crisp instead of steaming under the weight of a full wok of vegetables. Take a few minutes to toss together this healthy and colorful dish. You won’t be let down by these summer flavors.

End of Summer Vegetable Stir-Fry

For the noodles and sauce

6 ounces rice noodles (banh pho)

2 tablespoon tamarind paste

2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoon lime juice (about 1/2 lime)

2 tablespoon palm sugar or light-brown sugar

For the stir-fry

Sesame oil

1 tablespoon grated garlic (about 1 large clove)

1 tablespoon grated ginger (about 1/2 inch piece)

1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips

1/2 green bell pepper, cut into strips

1 small yellow zucchini, cut into half moons

1 small green zucchini, cut into half moons

5 ounces oyster mushrooms

1/2 cup Thai basil or sweet basil leaves

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add noodles, cover and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Rinse under cold water and add back to pot, filling with cold water to keep noodles from sticking.

Combine the tamarind, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice and sugar.

Heat a wok at medium to medium-high heat.

Add 1 tablespoon oil and warm. Add garlic and ginger; saute for 1 minute. Immediately add bell peppers and saute until tender but crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl. Add zucchini and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove to the bowl. Add mushrooms and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove to the bowl. Refresh oil as needed during cooking.

Drain the noodles.

Refresh wok with 1 tablespoon of oil. Add 1/4 portion of the noodles and 1/4 portion each of the vegetables and basil. Drizzle over with a quarter of the sauce. Stir until warmed through and noodles are translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn out onto a plate or bowl and serve immediately. Continue with remaining ingredients until complete. Serves 4.

Per serving: 287 calories; 8 g fat (1 g saturated fat; 25 percent calories from fat); 50 g carbohydrates; 11 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 1,271 mg sodium; 6 g protein; 3 g fiber.