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Recipe corner: vegetable and corn chowder and summer vegetable pesto bake

May 31, 2017


The two recipes this month feature many of the summer vegetables and herbs available in the southeastern portion of the U.S.  Both of the recipes are lightly adapted from Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook.

Vegetable and corn chowder

Most of the work in this recipe is in the chopping of the vegetables and herbs. Once that is done, the rest is simple.  This recipe uses the stalks of cauliflower and broccoli, which is often leftover in other recipes. When using the stalks of these two vegetables, it is best to slice off the outer fibrous portion of the stems and chop the stalks into quarter-inch chunks or slices. Another, much easier option, is to use broccoli and cauliflower florets, or to add more chopped celery about 10 minutes before the end of the cooking process.

Serves: 4-6 (2-cup servings)


  • 8 small Yukon gold potatoes or white potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 ears fresh corn (yellow or white), kernels removed (about 1 and 3/4 cups), cobs reserved
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli and cauliflower stalks, outer fibrous parts removed and discarded (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chopped dill
  • Sea salt to taste


In a large Dutch oven or pot, combine the potatoes, onion, corn kernels and cobs, carrots, celery, red pepper, broccoli and cauliflower, garlic, thyme, white pepper, cumin and 6 cups of water. Bring this to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Remove the corn cobs and let cool.

Remove 1-2 cups of the soup and puree in a blender with a tight-fitting lid, covered with a towel. Return the pureed soup to the pot, and add the dill. Scrape the cooled corn cobs with the back of a knife to remove the corn “milk” left over from the kernels, and add it back to the chowder. Stir well and season with salt.  Garnish with dill if desired.

*If you like a thinner chowder, use 7-8 cups of water instead of 6, and puree only 1 cup of the soup.

Summer vegetable pesto bake

Serves: 8


  • 2 large yellow onions (Vidalia or another sweet onion variety, if available), peeled and sliced into thin rings
  • 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 3 large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 3 large yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, cut into 3/4-inch rounds
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil, for sautéing onions
  • 1 batch basil pesto (recipe follows)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the olive in a skillet, and warm over low-to-medium heat. Add the onions to the skillet and sauté for 10 minutes, or until the onions are starting to caramelize. Set aside.

Place the potato rounds in a steamer basket or in the microwave, and steam until al dente. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Lightly grease the bottom of a 9”x13” Pyrex dish. Place a layer of the zucchini in the bottom of the dish. Season with salt and pepper, and spread with small amounts of the basil pesto. Add a layer of yellow squash, season with salt and pepper, and spread with small amounts of the basil pesto. Add a layer of the steamed potato rounds and spread with small amounts of the basil pesto. Repeat the layers until the zucchini, yellow squash, and potatoes are used up.  Top with the remaining (if any) basil pesto. Place the tomato slices, followed by the caramelized onions, on the casserole. Season again with salt and pepper, if desired.

Bake the casserole for 40 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

*Traditional pesto can be used in place of the following recipe.

Basil Pesto

This is a healthier version of the traditional pesto, yet has all of its flavor. This version does not contain oil or cheese, and has just a touch of fat from the pine nuts and tofu. For a unique twist, arugula can be used in place of basil.

Makes about 1 cup.


  • 2 cups packed basil (or arugula)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 6 ounces silken tofu, drained

Combine the basil (or arugula), pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt and tofu in the bowl of a food processor. Puree until smooth and creamy.

*Note: If a cheesy flavor is desired for your vegetable pesto casserole, you can add 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast to your pesto recipe.     

Recipes provided by Elizabeth Miller, R.D., C.S.O., registered dietitian at VCU Massey Cancer Center

Written by: Massey Communications Office

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