Cincinnati Chefs Give Their Recipes for What to Do With End-Of-Summer Produce

Here are some ideas of what to cook with all those garden-fresh fruits and veggies before the pumpkins take over

Sep 11, 2018 at 9:29 am

click to enlarge The Anchor-OTR's Steven Shockely - Photo: Provided
Photo: Provided
The Anchor-OTR's Steven Shockely

Visit Pinterest on Sept. 1 and all traces of summer will be replaced by pins of illustrated evenings by the fire, beautifully piled scarves and boots and endless mugs of steaming concoctions — but don’t give up on summer quite yet.

It’s a trick of the school calendar that August is often thought of as the height of summer bounty. In fact, September is the best month to visit your local farmer’s market. All the joy of summer produce like tomatoes, zucchini and watermelon are mingled with the start of slightly cooler season goodness: Italian plums, apples, broccoli, winter squashes and figs. 

Arguably, each one of those perfect foods is best eaten fresh from the ground and prepared simply: sliced and sprinkled with salt; lightly steamed; raw; layered on toast with cream cheese and honey (especially in the case of figs). 

But the abundance of summer also provides a great opportunity for creativity in the kitchen, as these five chefs prove.

Host a harvest party or be the crowd favorite at your neighborhood potluck with these recipes that highlight seasonal produce.

End-of-Summer Caponata

Recipe provided by Steven Shockely, chef at The Anchor-OTR

“In Sicily, caponata is the epitome of the end-of-the-summer harvest. Great to scoop up over bread, or, as we are doing at The Anchor, with fresh-made tagliatelle pasta.”


• 1 large eggplant, chopped and salted

• 1 large red onion, diced

•  2 bell pepper red/yellow, diced

•  1 summer yellow squash, diced

•  1 green zucchini, diced

•  2 lbs. heirloom tomato, diced

•  2 Tbsp. capers, rinsed

•  2 head garlic, peeled and chopped

•  3 anchovies, oil packed

•  3 Tbsp. good quality olive oil

Instructions: Chop eggplant and coat with salt; allow to sit for 30 minutes then rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. 

Dice onion, peppers, squash, zucchini and tomatoes — keep everything separate. Peel and chop garlic. 

Sauté eggplant in a cast iron pan (or something similar) until caramelized; add onions, garlic, peppers, squash and zucchini. Cook until onion becomes translucent. Add anchovies and capers and cook for another minute before adding tomatoes. 

Turn heat to low and allow everything to stew together. If your mixture becomes too dry in the pan, add a touch of dry white wine. Enjoy with a crusty loaf of bread!

click to enlarge Mazunte's flame-roasted corn - Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook
Mazunte's flame-roasted corn

Flame-Roasted Corn

Recipe provided by Josh Wamsley, owner of Mazunte

“Our flame-roasted corn is served with a chipotle mayo, queso fresco and lime. It’s our only seasonal dish on the menu: sweet, smoky and creamy.”


•  Local sweet corn, husk on

•  Queso fresco

•  Lime

Chipotle Mayo Ingredients:

•  ½ cup mayonnaise

•  1 chipotle chile from can of chipotles 

in adobo, diced

•  ½ lime, squeezed

Instructions: To make the chipotle mayo, mix ½ cup mayonnaise with a diced chipotle chile from a can of chipotles in adobo. You can also use a blender. If you like more spice, add another chipotle. Squeeze half of a lime in and mix. Add more lime if you like. 

Soak the corn in water (husk on) for 30 minutes. Roast corn on a medium-high grill, with husk still on, until kernels are soft, rotating often. Remove husk and sear exposed kernels for 45 seconds. Top with chipotle mayo, queso fresco and squeezed lime.

Cucumber Kimchi

Recipe provided by Suni Suk, chef at Red Sesame Food Truck

“These cucumbers have some kick to them, but they’re very refreshing. This is a favorite summer kimchi in Korea. It also has the benefit of being full of antioxidants and low in calories, plus hydrating.”


• 1 English cucumber

•  ⅓ small onion, sliced (optional) 

• Coarse sea salt

Paste Ingredients:

•  1 Tbsp. gochugaru chili flakes

• 1 Tbsp. gochujang

•  1 Tbsp. soy sauce

•  1 Tbsp. sugar

•  2 Tbsp. vinegar

•  ½  Tbsp. minced garlic

•  1 Tbsp. roasted sesame seeds

Instructions: Slice the cucumber into very thin rounds and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Let sit for 30 minutes and then drain excess water. Slice the onion into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Put all the paste ingredients in a bowl and mix together to form your paste. Use food-grade gloves to mix the paste with the cucumber and onion. Eat immediately or let sit for 12 to 24 hours before serving.

Summer Vegetable Crostata

Recipe provided by Robert Kochanowski, chef at The Comet

“This rustic vegetable tart uses a very simple cream cheese pastry that’s delicious, simple and forgiving. Use just about any kind of leftover summer veggies that you have on hand or would like to try, but make sure that the filling isn’t too wet or the crust will become soggy. We make this recipe times four for brunch at The Comet and always run out.”

Pastry Ingredients:

•  6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

•  4 oz. cold cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces

•  1 cup all-purpose flour

•  ½  tsp. salt

•  1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

Filling Ingredients:

•  2 medium zucchini

•  2 medium yellow summer squash

•  1 large bunch greens (chard, spinach, etc.) blanched and squeezed dry, then chopped

•  1 large yellow onion

•  1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, left whole

•  ½  tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

•  1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

•  4 oz. goat cheese or feta


Pastry: In a food processor, blend the butter, cream cheese, flour and salt, pulsing the motor until the dough just begins to form a ball. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten slightly. Dust the dough with flour, wrap in plastic wrap, and put in the refrigerator for one hour. The dough may be made one day in advance and kept well wrapped and chilled.

Filling: Slice onions into strips and start caramelizing over medium heat in a splash of olive oil with a pinch of salt. Slice squash into 1/4-inch-thick disks and sauté in olive oil until just cooked through but still crisp in a hot skillet. Remove from heat. Blanche greens by cooking quickly in boiling water, removing and cooling greens in a bowl of ice water. Squeeze out excess moisture and coarsely chop. Combine the cooked and uncooked vegetables with the herbs, and chill.

To assemble: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the pastry dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Don’t worry if the edges crack. 

Place pastry on parchment-lined baking sheet and place chilled vegetable filling in the center, leaving about an inch or two around the edge. Crumble goat or feta cheese on top of filling and fold the edge of the crust over in large flaps. You want it to look rustic. If you’d like, brush the folded edge of the pastry with an egg beaten with a little water. 

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, checking halfway through and turning 180 degrees. Serve warm or at room temperature with a light arugula salad and sliced red grapes, toasted almonds and a lemon vinaigrette.

click to enlarge Brown Bear's Blair Fornshell - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Brown Bear's Blair Fornshell

Summer Fruit and Herb Buckle 

Recipe provided by Blair Fornshell, owner and baker at Brown Bear Bakery

“As the summer days begin to shorten and I start craving the comforts of fall, this dessert is perfect. Warm, buttery and full of sun-ripened summer peaches, this buckle is the ideal vehicle for the last of the season’s fruits. If you don’t have peaches on hand, any stone fruit will work; and if you’re lucky enough to have stored away summer berries, then this is the time to use them. Just substitute two pints of any fruit for the peaches. I love to serve this dessert topped with a big spoonful of barely whipped cream, a few fresh thyme leaves and freshly sliced peaches that have been tossed in the reserved peach liquid.”


•  3 oz. unsalted butter

•  1 cup brown sugar

•  1 large egg

•  2 tsp. vanilla extract

•  ⅔ cup room-temperature, full-fat buttermilk

•  3 or 4 peaches, depending on size

•  ½ tsp. fresh thyme

•  2 cups all-purpose flour

•  1 tsp. baking powder

•  3/4 tsp. Kosher salt

•  1/4 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated, if you have it)

•  2 Tbsp. raw sugar for topping (Sugar in the Raw is my favorite and available at the supermarket).

Instructions: Prep the peaches. Cut them into thin slices and place in a bowl. Use 2 Tbsp. brown sugar and toss to coat. Let sit for 30 minutes; then drain the peaches. 

While you’re waiting on the peaches, melt the butter with the thyme leaves in a saucepan, and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and coat a 10-inch cake pan with butter and flour to prevent sticking. 

Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg) in a large bowl and set aside. 

When the butter and thyme mixture has cooled to room temperate, use a rubber spatula to mix in the brown sugar, followed by the egg and vanilla. Mix it quickly and with muscle until your mixture has incorporated some air. Next, whip in the buttermilk and mix just until incorporated. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until smooth. 

Take the drained peaches and fold them into the batter. I like to set aside about a quarter of the peaches to top the buckle with before it goes into the oven. At this stage you want to make sure not to over-mix. Use the reserved peaches to top the buckle. Sprinkle the top of the buckle with 2 Tbsp. raw sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes and up to one hour, until the top is toasty and golden brown. The buckle will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan. 

click to enlarge Bakersfield Cucumber Margarita - Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook
Bakersfield Cucumber Margarita

Cucumber Margarita

Recipe provided by Tony Dornbusch, Food and Beverage Director for Thunderdome Restaurant Group

"The Bakersfield Cucumber Margarita infuses cooling cucumber into fresh citrus juices then substitutes the traditional triple sec for a floral elderflower liqueur producing a breezy cocktail perfect for late summer patios. This is for one 16-ounce cocktail."  


•  2 oz. silver tequila (Bakersfield uses Olmeca Altos Plata)

•  1 oz. elderflower liqueur (St Elder or St Germain)

•  5 oz. cucumber-sour mix

•  3 slices cucumber

•  Kosher salt

Instructions: Rim a 16-oz. glass with Kosher salt. Add tequila, elderflower liqueur, cucumber sour mix and 2 cucumber slices to shaker. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Empty contents of shaker into glass and garnish with remaining cucumber slice. No shaker? Rim a 16-oz. glass with Kosher salt. Add tequila, elderflower liqueur and 2 cucumber slices to glass and muddle cucumber. Top with ice, then add sour mix, and garnish with remaining cucumber slice.