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Surrender to Summer With Veggie Napoleons

Monday, June 16, 2008 | 07:00pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. “They’re here. They’re all here—the really fresh, just picked, tastes-better-than-anything-else-in-the-world fruits, vegetables and herbs we wait all year for,” says Tammy Algood.

“Starting just about now and lasting until frost, we’ll steam, bake, boil, skewer and grill everything as it comes into season. The great thing is, lots of Tennessee’s produce starts to show up at about the same time, somewhere around the first of July, meaning that the possibilities are endless for mixing and matching a variety of colors and flavors.”

Algood is spokesperson for the statewide Pick Tennessee Products campaign, the promotion developed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Market Development Division to help consumers identify and choose foods grown or processed in Tennessee.  Algood creates recipes featuring foods grown or processed in Tennessee. Her recipes are available at

“A vegetable Napoleon is an easy to make, versatile and just plain pretty way to make the most out of this precious summer produce,” says Algood.

Technically, the Napoleon is a dessert with layers of puff pastry interspersed with pastry cream or whipped cream and iced with fondant and chocolate or with confectioner’s sugar, according to Algood. There are numerous claims on the dessert’s origin, says the food expert, including that it was developed in France during the latter part of the 19th century. A Danish legend also has it that a Danish royal pastry chef invented the dessert in the 1800s on the occasion of a state visit between the Emperor Napoleon and the King of Denmark, in Copenhagen.

“A final popular tale is that the dessert was a French invention that was simply Napoleon’s favorite pastry,” says Algood, “so much so that, when he overate the confection before an encounter at Waterloo, he was unable to properly command, thus forcing him to surrender.”

“It’s more likely that the Napoleon was in fact a type of layered Italian cake well established in Europe by 1800, variously known as a Napolitanain Spain and aNapolitain in France. From there it’s of course a very short leap to Napoleon.

“At any rate,” says Algood, “over time the term has come to describe a number of foods that are stacked or layered—think Neapolitan ice cream, which layers chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.”

“Oven Roasted Squash Napoleons with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis is an absolutely fantastic way to make use of both the word and all sorts of fresh, local produce,” says Algood. “The presentation of this dish is beautiful, and the best part is that it moves with the produce season, easily accommodating its ingredients to whatever is in excess at the moment.  Roasting causes a vegetable to collapse on itself, extracting moisture to condense and intensify flavors. “

“With this recipe, there’s no need to fight the urge to buy up all the fresh local produce you can find, which is as easy as a visit to for lists of farms and farmers markets near you,” says Algood.  “Just stack up some pretty Napoleons and surrender to the flavor of summer!”

Please find a hi-res downloadable photograph of the attached recipe at  Click on the featured recipe.

Oven-Roasted Squash Napoleons with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

1 zucchini, cut on the diagonal into ¼-inch slices
2 yellow summer squash, cut on the diagonal into ¼-inch slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh minced chives
1 teaspoon fresh minced basil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/3 cup chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Basil leaves for garnish

Place zucchini and squash slices in a shallow bowl.  Combine next 5 ingredients and toss over slices.  Allow to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Evenly place zucchini and squash slices in a single layer on baking sheet.  Drizzle any leftover marinade over slices.  Place in oven and roast for 40 minutes, flipping slices halfway through cooking time.

Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.  To serve, place two zucchini slices side by side on a serving plate.  Top with 2 slices of yellow squash, also arranged side by side.  Repeat so that you have two layers of each, then top with a slice of zucchini to connect the two stacks.  Puddle the red pepper coulis at the bottom of the plate and garnish with a basil leaf if desired.  Serve immediately.  Yield:  2-3 servings.

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