Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Pick Me! Pick Me!

I have a vision of my neighbor and Real Good Food's guru of the garden, Jim Dixon, laying on his back in his garden, hands clasped behind his head and surrounded by adoring squash, corn, tomatoes and peppers, all clamoring to be the ones he picks (no pun intended) for his next repast.

Summer’s end means an abundance of beautiful produce, and most nights I find myself combining a couple of things I picked up at the farmers market or had in my garden. This week it was more eggplant, Spanish frying peppers (from my friends at Viridian Farms), sweet corn, and tomatoes (from my backyard).

I’m sure I’ve ranted about this before, but it’s worth repeating: don’t bother salting eggplant. While it does change the texture, it does nothing for the flavor. I think it’s a waste of time and keeps people from eating more eggplant (something we do nearly every week).

Eggplant and Pepper Agrodolce

Cut a medium eggplant into roughly half-inch cubes, peeled or not, depending on your preference. Use enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of a heavy skillet, heat it until it starts to shimmer and add the eggplant. Let it sit for a few minutes, then use a stiff spatula to turn it and mix it up. Don’t worry if it looks like it needs more oil, just keep moving it around and it’ll be fine.

Cook over medium high until nicely browned, then add several frying peppers (typically long, thin-skinned, and fairly mild) that you’ve halved lengthwise and cut into short strips. Add a chopped onion and cook everything for another 10 minutes or so. Add about a quarter cup of Katz Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc vinegar (or Late Harvest Zinfandel, they both have some sweetness), cook for a few more minutes, then serve.

Corn, Tomato, and Basil Salad

Cook a few extra ears of sweet corn so you don’t eat it all hot off the cob. Let them cool, then slice off the kernels (simmer the cobs in water to make corn broth, good for risotto or polenta). Cut up some ripe tomatoes, tear a handful of basil eaves into bite sized chunks, add a chopped shallot, drizzle with plenty of extra virgin olive oil, add a splash of Katz Champagne vinegar and a pinch of flor de sal.

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