Cooks Exchange

Grilled veggie bowl is one way to take advantage of fresh vegetables

My fig lady called with bad news. Her fig trees, which are usually full, have puny fruit this year.

“I didn’t fertilize them like I always do, so they are small and not worth talking about,” said Naomi Coleman of Gulfport. “The trees are full, but the figs are small. Now, if we would get some good rain the figs on the trees stand a good chance of getting larger.”

She wanted me to know, so I wouldn’t be disappointed. I love fresh figs. My daughter, granddaughter and I can eat them skin and all. We agree that figs are good eating.

Reader Lynnette Faul, also of Gulfport, has had better luck with her fig trees this year.

“We have been picking figs day and night, and there are so many,” Faul said. “Now, I have had to pick them soft but ripe enough to eat and make jam. If I do not pick them at this time, the birds will have a tasty time.”

Faul faithfully shares her figs with her neighbor, whom she already has given a bucketful.

“We will still have lots to pick off tree,” she said. “I already tried some, and they are OK to eat. They really are ripening faster this year.”

Faul usually makes jam with her figs and so does Coleman, who is awesome at cooking.

Abundance of veggies

Some gardens are overflowing with tomatoes, zucchini, squash and eggplant. One Coast farmer said some of their crops were abundant, but others need rain, just like Coleman’s figs do.

Zucchini and tomatoes seem to be the most fruitful this summer. Those two also pair well for a wealth of recipes. One of the easiest ways to cook with these two is to simply sauté zucchini, sliced onion and chopped or sliced tomatoes in olive oil with garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. A bit of balsamic vinegar also adds punch to this duo.

Veggie lovers and even vegetarians may be bowled over by these veggie bowls that make use of zucchini, onions and tomatoes. These vegetables also can be used as vegetarian fajitas and placed in corn or flour tortillas. This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare and 10 minutes cooking time.

Chefs at say that veggie bowls are one of the newest trends for parties, weddings and at-home dinners. I am sharing the website’s grilled veggie food bowl and the avocado escarole salad bowl with mozzarella, tomatoes and olives. That recipe uses a mustard seed dressing, but I would prefer a Greek salad dressing with these vegetables.

Keep looking

Readers still want the seasoning recipe for the grilled bacon wrapped chicken breasts at the old French Connection restaurant in Biloxi and the Rita sauce at the old Toucan’s Restaurant in Gulfport.

If you have any inkling about these recipes, please send me an e-mail or write to me.


1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/ 4 teaspoon cumin

3 teaspoons olive oil

2 large zucchinis, sliced crosswise

2 large peppers, 1 red, 1 orange, sliced

1 red onion

1/2 cup of cooked corn

2 cups cooked Jasmine rice

Oil for cooking

First thing’s first, we need to get spicy. Combine black pepper, sugar, paprika, garlic powder and cumin in a small mixing bowl. Whisk and then set aside.

Next, in a hot skillet, add 2 teaspoons of oil and diced red onions. Cook for 3 minutes. Then, add sliced peppers and zucchini and cook until tender and charred. Remove from the pan.

After that, it is time to season. Add another 1 teaspoon of olive oil, mix in your cooked corn, and sprinkle in your seasoning. Cook for another 5 minutes or until veggies are soft.

Serve your veggie fajitas sizzling hot over some long-grained Jasmine white rice and enjoy. Makes 2 servings.

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1 head of chopped escarole lettuce

2 avocados, pitted and sliced

2 cups fresh mozzarella cheese

2 cups of halved cherry tomatoes

2 cups black olives

Mustard seed dressing

Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, toss together chopped escarole, mozzarella, tomatoes and olives. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Divide among 3 bowls, then top each with avocado slices and drizzle with mustard seed dressing. Serves 3.

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4 tablespoons whole grain mustard

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon caraway seeds, lightly toasted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mix mustard, olive oil and caraway seeds, and add salt and pepper.

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Andrea Yeager can be reached at and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507.