Our slice of the Wasatch may be best known for its winter landscapes, but a delicious assortment of produce can be grown during Park City’s short yet fruitful summers. The right ingredients, mixed with a little bustle in the kitchen now, can provide quick, delicious meals during the hibernation months later. The vaunted chefs at Deer Valley, like their area peers, get creative by foraging for fresh berries and finding the best sources for corn. A variety of locals get into the act, too, gathering around each other’s kitchen tables to can tomatoes or make pesto and guarantee a savory winter with plenty of time to hit the slopes and enjoy a homemade meal. Here are their tips on how to make the best of the season harvest.
A group of four chefs from Deer Valley Resort spends more than 16 hours shucking, blanching, shaving, freezing, and bagging corn for winter use. Resort freezers start the season with over 720 ears’ worth of northern Utah–grown corn for recipes such as their signature cornbread or corn risotto. The process, though time consuming, is simple and easy to replicate in a home kitchen.
Utah Sweet Corn Soup
from Deer Valley Resort
- 2 lbs Utah sweet corn kernels, cut fresh from the cob (about 12 ears, shucked; reserve cobs)
- 2 1/2 tbsp chopped shallots
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups corn stock*
In a 4-quart saucepan, sweat the corn, shallots, and garlic in the butter. Add the cream and stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Purée and pass through a fine mesh strainer. Season with salt and pepper.
- The 12 shaved cobs, broken in half
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 qts cold water
Bring all ingredients to boil in a pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer until reduced by 2/3 to 3/4. Strain and reserve for soup.
Everyone enjoys fresh tomatoes on their Caprese salads or BLT sandwiches during the summer months, but during winter we often compromise with store-bought canned tomatoes that don’t approach the same flavor. Canning your own tomatoes is easier than you might think, and they will enhance the flavor profile of any dish you make with them. All you need for a tomato canning party is plenty of jars and sealing lids (directions for canning are on their cartons), a steam cooker or large pot for boiling the jars, tongs, a case or two of fresh tomatoes (purchased from one of our local farmers’ markets or nurtured with care in your own garden), and a few enthusiastic friends. Kelley Epstein, author of the local blog mountainmamacooks.com, cans two versions of crushed tomatoes. They keep her pantry ready for any soup, stew, roast, or casserole recipe that might call for canned tomatoes or tomato sauce.
Canned Crushed Tomatoes
- 12 cups peeled, seeded, and quartered tomatoes
- Bottled lemon juice
- Kosher salt
- Preferred spice blend*
- Italian spice: Combine 2 tbsp dried Italian seasoning blend, 1 tbsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes (optional).
- Mexican spice: Combine 2 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 2 tsp oregano, 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp coriander, and 1 tsp seasoned salt.
See Epstein’s complete directions for preparing the tomatoes and canning safely on her website.
One of the best parts of summer eating is using fresh herbs for cooking or garnishing. But how can we keep enjoying these herbs all winter long? The simple solution is to make pesto out of a variety of herbs and nuts. Basil pesto is a favorite, and all you need to make it is a food processor and a few ice cube trays. Once the pesto is made, freeze it in the ice cube trays, then pop the cubes into freezer-safe bags for easy one-portion servings to be thawed out as you need them. And remember that pasta isn’t the only dish that benefits from a good basil pesto; you can add it to vegetables, use it to flavor meat, or spread it on sandwiches or hors d’oeuvres.
Thai Basil Pesto Recipe
from Park City’s vintagemixer.com
- 2 cups fresh Thai basil leaves
- 2 tbsp dry-roasted peanuts
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp dark sesame oil
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
Place all ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.
These sweet little berries can be spotted all over Deer Valley as well as surrounding areas near Hwy 40, though resort chefs won’t reveal exact locations. (What savvy cook would?) These berries are the base for several items on resort menus, including a jelly served on seared venison and elderberry syrup to drizzle over pancakes and waffles. Elderberry blossoms, which are umbrella shaped and white, are also edible and delicious fried as fritters or used in tea or cocktails (think elderberry Champagne).
from Deer Valley Resort
- 2 lbs fresh elderberries, all stems
- removed, rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 2 1/2 cups maple sugar
- 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Bring the berries and water to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for 15–20 minutes, until soft. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Discard mashed berries. Pour the juice back into the pot. Add the maple sugar, and cook at a low boil over moderate heat for 15 minutes, until the syrup has thickened. Add the lemon juice. Cool completely. Keep refrigerated.