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Archive for July, 2009

Bounty

The first big harvest at our new house (how long can I keep saying that it’s our new house?  A year?  Good, I’ve still got time) happened the other day.  We’ve of course been picking here and there all along – I’ll grab a handful of cherry tomatoes on my way to work, or gather a bunch of beans and brussels for a quick greens fix in the evenings.  There’s something about a big batch harvesting that feels different – when I end up with the cream of the crop, I’m inspired to cook in a different way.  I am lead by the source, not by my stomach.

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Yikes – somebody needs to paint the porch.  Moving on…

Y’all have already seen where the first potato harvest ended up, but one cannot live on potato salad alone, no matter how delicious.  On the second full day of ‘Tater Fest, where we’d eaten potato salad for lunch and dinner (ahem, and sometimes breakfast), I wanted to come up with something new to accompany it.  I am starting the process of pulling out the brussels sprout plants, so had a bunch of baby brussels that never quite grew past the size of a quarter.  I also pulled some assorted sweet and hot peppers, so the two seemed like the perfect pair.  I was a little tired of roasted brussels (recipe: toss in olive oil and salt, roast at 425° until delicious), so wanted to try something new with them.  Here’s my solution:

Summer Harvest Veggie Melange

1 Tbsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp butter
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
2 cups small brussels sprouts, whole – if you only have bigger ones, cut them in half or quarters
1/2 lemon
3 sweet peppers, julienned
3 cups chard, stems removed and leaves cut into bite-sized pieces
Leftover BBQ chicken, optional – would also be great with a fried egg on top!

Boil the brussels sprouts in a pot of salted water until slightly softened, about 5-7 minutes.  Drain completely.  In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over med-high heat until the butter starts to brown.  Add the garlic, then the brussels sprouts.  Try not to stir them around so that they get some nice browning action.  A couple of times during cooking, squirt the sprouts with lemon juice.  When you see that the brussels have browned on the bottom, add peppers and saute until the peppers have softened.  Add chard and let cook until softened.  Remove from heat and toss with chicken.

Add salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste and serve immediately.

The chicken was a last-minute addition, so I had to run back and grab the camera again – dinner is quite  the production in our house sometimes!  This turned out to be the best meal I’ve had in a long time – I was so thankful for the harvest.

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Tater Hater

The most exciting crop I planted this year is potatoes – it certainly doesn’t sound sexy or fascinating, but the taters have surprised me!  Because they are hidden throughout their growth process, I had some serious doubts that anything at all was happening.  Sure, plants began to sprout out of the baby reds that I dropped in the ground, and eventually they flowered and died off.  I still had no expectations of finding what I did.  As I dug under and around each beautiful stalk, ruby red jewels popped up – the perfect potatoes straight out of the ground.  I actually yelped the first time I found one, and called for Chris to grab the camera (like they were going to run away).  I actually grew some potatoes!

taters in skirt

I ran back to the bed and dug up some more, and ended up with a big bowl of dirty, beautiful potatoes – now what to do?  I wanted to be able to taste the potatoes in all their homegrown glory, but wasn’t in the mood for a purely plain potato dish.  Since it’s been so warm here, it seemed like potato salad would be a good choice.  The problem with that choice?  Neither of us really like potato salad.  The traditional salad with heavy mayo and overcooked spuds is pretty unappetizing to me, so I had to do something different.  I also had an extra batch of garden green beans, just itching to be used, so this delicious tater salad alternative was the perfect solution.  From one of the Moosewood cookbooks:

Potato Bean Salad with Curried Mango Yogurt Dressing

3 C cubed potatoes
¼ red onion, thinly sliced (about ½ C)
3 C cut green beans (2” pieces)
2 C cooked chickpeas (16 oz. can, drained)
dressing ingredients:
1 C plain yogurt
3 tbsp. prepared mango chutney
1 ½ tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. finely minced red onion
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice

In a saucepan, bring potatoes and enough cool salted water to cover to a boil on high heat. Lower heat and simmer 15 minutes, adding green beans for last 7 minutes of cooking time so they are al dente together. Drain, place in a large bowl and immediately stir in sliced red onions. Stir in drained chickpeas and set aside to cool. Combine all dressing ingredients, and when veggies are cool, stir in dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste, and either serve immediately or store, covered, in the refrigerator.  My recommendation is to let the flavors combine and relax in the fridge overnight – this salad is better the second day.

Chris is even more of a tater hater than I am when it comes to potato salads, and he gave this one rave reviews, so it must be good, right?

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Best enjoyed on a front porch, overlooking the source.  More to come on the greens dish later – possibly even better than the taters!

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