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Silvina Niccum
Use what's growing in your garden right now for this Mediterranean Slow-Cooked Garden Stew. Most gardeners have more tomatoes, peppers, zuchinni and okra than they know what to do with!

Freshly picked vegetables at their peak of ripeness are very different from the ones that have had to travel a distance to get to the table. There’s only one problem with summer cooking, and that’s turning on the stove or the oven. That’s why most people move the bulk of their cooking outside to a grill. There is another option to grilling.

Behold, your slow cooker!

It keeps your kitchen cool; it’s slow and laid-back, and great for your summer vegetables. The diversity of what’s growing outside in the garden is a great opportunity for expanding culinary horizons. Go to the spice rack, step outside the chili comfort zone and pull out something different. Think culturally diverse, think bold and fresh flavors, and the possibilities are endless.

Tomatoes are the stars of all summer gardens right now, and peppers too. But instead of making Mexican again, we'll experiment with a Mediterranean-flavored dish that will knock your flip-flops off!

Mediterranean Slow-Cooked Garden Stew

Serves: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves garlic, diced

½ onion, diced

1 cup chicken stock

4-5 ripe tomatoes, diced

1-2 peppers (For jalapenos, only use one or half of one. If using sweet peppers, add another!)

2 ears of corn (corn shaved from the cob)

A handfull of something green based on what's growing in your garden, like green beans, peas, zucchini or yellow squash; shell it, slice it, peel it or put it in whole (My garden is exploding with okra right now.)

1 tablespoon curry powder

½ teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 pinch of sea salt

pepper to taste

Sauté the onion and garlic until transparent, then add all the sautéed items to the slow cooker with the chicken stock. Add the rest of the vegetables, set your slow cooker to low and stew for one hour.

Serve over cooked rice and enjoy the fruits of your garden.

Silvina Niccum is a young adult fiction writer, a homeschooling mother of three and lives in Dallas. Her email is sbniccum@gmail.com