Drowning the Harvest

With the impending apocalypse – dubbed Irene – it seems a day to celebrate the harvest… as it drowns slowly to oblivion.  And so, a little whimsy.

PearspicacityA little pearspicacity?
A head’s a mighty good place for strings beans, carrots, and arugula too, if they made it to your share… which they just might in August!

Prepare to get peppered. (Also gar-licked, zucchini-slapped, cuc-ed, and tomato-faced, if say, they also landed in your CSA box.)

I ‘ear you also got an eggplant? Hope it doesn’t get babaghasmooshed in the hurricane.

Fingers crossed, Irene won’t drown the fields of New York and squander our share for the rest of the season. Such is the risk (and reward) in relying on the harvest.

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Sesame Mucho

Here’s a challenge those of us in my household enjoy: how many foods can we combine from our CSA share into one meal, and still have it taste good?

This week we managed to accumulate:

  • fresh onion
  • fresh garlic
  • purple basil
  • amaranth greens
  • Velour string beans
  • gold beets
  • eggplant
  • plum tomatoes
  • cherry tomatoes
  • hot green peppers
  • blueberries
  • and yellow peaches
And ten out of twelve ain’t half bad.

A good way to throw it all into one meal is with a (sesame) stir-fry. Start with your aromatics… say, fresh onion, garlic, purple basil, and hot green peppers. Then let them sauté until soft.
Add chopped eggplant.
When that has softened, add plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and amaranth greens.
Then add (mmm) sesame seeds, with a sauce made of sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, ginger, and a squeeze of orange.  Put it over rice and grab chopsticks.
For dessert we had peaches and blueberries.
Cheating you say? Oh. Oops.

Zucchini Battle

Zucchini BattleHere’s a secret they don’t tell you about visiting the country: if you leave your car unlocked – for mere seconds – someone will come along and sneakily dump a 30-pound box of zucchinis in your trunk when you are distracted by a deer.

This makes the Bronx look rather tame.

Zucchini TartThe other thing they fail to tell you is that there’s a million things to do with zucchini. With our surprise 30-pound box, we dedicated a meal a day for a week to zucchy dishes.

Zucchini Fritters and Golden BeetsWe started ambitiously on a Monday with a zucchini tart, the recipe for which came from our seasonal bible. It’s a base of bread crumbs with vegetables on top and a cheesy egg mixture, which turned out to be a crowd pleaser.

On Tuesday, we had share veggies: mesclun greens with golden beets alongside some local goat cheese and zucchini fritters (egg, a little flower, s&p, fried in butter).

Ratatouille PastaIf after a long Wednesday you received tomatoes, onions, garlic, and basil in your CSA… what would you make? It seemed pretty obvious that this was a night for pasta, and so we cooked what we deem ratatouille pasta! Zucchini and summer squash with the fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, sautéed up with some whole wheat pasta. And the coziest Wednesday night meal was set, to be paired with a Cary Grant movie (“His Girl Friday”).

img_7808On Thursday, zucchini bread seemed to be in order. All kinds of variations are plastered over the internet and they’re easy to make. Also, I’ve found that when you give people zucchini breads, they inexplicably love you.

Zucchini and BeansFor Friday, a variation on beans and rice with zucchini, tomatoes, shallots, oregano, cumin, and chili pepper.

And on Saturday, another Vegetables From An Italian Garden meal – zucchini pesto! It turned out quite beautiful and impressive (perfect for a Saturday evening first course affair), and while vaguely like pesto, had delicious summer zuch undertones.  Highly recommended.

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And on the seventh day, we rested.

Aka: ordered take-out.  It did not contain zucchini.

Eggplantpalozza

Eggplant looms large in our legend. On my first date with my honey – a story I’ve been forced to tell three times alone this week – I fainted head first into my Eggplant Parmeggplant parm for no apparent reason. The entire fire department piled into the tiniest Italian restaurant you’ve ever seen, followed by an ambulance squad, a whole pack of hysterical waiters, and my poor boy had a minor heart attack. (We’ve both recovered, by the way.) So when our dubious friend the eggplant arrived in our CSA share this weekend, we were skeptical… and also, very excited.

Because of its unique texture, eggplant is highly maleable and open to a lot of recipes that other vegetables would crumble in the face of. And so we eat eggplant. Like, a lot of eggplant. Eggplant and zucchini have a running Vegetables From An Italian Gardenbet over who we’re going to get sick of first.

Meanwhile, we have a new bible: Vegetables From An Italian Garden. A gastronomic guide, this four-part (spring, summer, fall, winter) hunk of a book guides you through the growing seasons, inundating you with seasonal recipes. And from this fab-o book we’ve been inspired to eat Italian-style eggplant many times this week.

Like, eggplant balls. (Is that really what they’re called?) Eggplant balls are kind of frittery: they’re smooshed eggplant with breadcrumbs, egg, peccorino cheese, basil, and garlic, all packed together and pan-fried. For a variety on the theme, we covered them in a bit of mozzarella and blow-torched them.Eggplant BallsThis week’s eggplant parm – see photo above – went far better than the First Date Parm. (Although perhaps, as we’re still together, I shouldn’t knock it.) My face remains uncovered in marinara sauce.

The eggplant arrived alongside the momentous pile of:

  • red tomatoes
  • yellow tomatoes
  • amaranth greensShare Pile
  • basil
  • arugula
  • jalapenos
  • beets
  • swiss chard
  • sweet bulb onions
  • CORN (tis the season)
  • blueberries
  • Shire plums
  • and white nectarines

You win this round, Eggplantapalooza. Zucchini battle soon to follow.