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Pasta with eggplant, tomato, and herbs

14 Dec

Another quick pasta meal incorporating some vegetables from the garden (roughly a pasta alla norma): Fry small eggplants in a little olive oil for 10-15 minutes until soft (should have peeled them first), season and set aside. Saute some onions and garlic and chili flake– then add diced tomatoes and cook down (maybe 15 minutes). Add the eggplant back in, combine with pasta, pistachios, grated parmesan, and lots of chopped fresh basil…

 

Fava anchovy “pesto”

7 Dec

This summer I grew a small plot of fava beans– not enough for a main dish, but I improvised a sauce for pasta combining fresh favas, green garlic, a few anchovy filets, pecorino, parsley, and mint (plus more cheese at the end):

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Beans, Veg, Yogurt, Meat

23 Nov

Another simple meal pattern: legumes, roasted vegetables, yogurt, and optionally meat.

In this case, fresh shelling beans (simmered on medium-low 30-40 minutes with aromatics + herbs), winter squash from the garden and broccoli (both chopped, tossed with olive oil and salt, and roasted in a 400F oven for 20-30 minutes), and a pan-fried sausage and some yogurt (optional: fermented hot sauce).

It does take three pots/pans, but only 45 minutes (depending how long the beans take to cook), so it’s on our roster as a common weeknight or weekend meal with endless variants…IMG_20191003_201919.jpg

Cooking Fresh Beans

10 Nov

Every year I grow a few varieties of fresh shelling beans, and when I’m lucky I find them at the local markets as well.

A common even weeknight-fast way of cooking them is to combine beans, salty water, a splash of olive oil, some aromatic (half an onion, a shallot, a clove of garlic), a whole dried hot pepper pod (without seeds if I want it to be less spicy), and a bay leaf.

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Just low-simmering this combination for 25-45 minutes until creamy-soft (time depends on the particular beans, their size, and their maturity) and then draining and dressing with good olive oil is consistently delicious.

 

Cooking Dry Beans

10 Mar

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Cooking dry beans? How boring and simple a concept is that?

I just cooked some great dried-but-not-old beans (Good Mother Stallard beans from this summer’s back yard garden, picked once the pods got papery and brittle and just stored in a mason jar), so I’m jotting down a few notes.

I didn’t soak them overnight. I covered them with a few inches of water, fairly heavily salted (a palmful of salt, such that it actually tastes like salty water, though not seawater), added a spoonful of olive oil, a whole peeled shallot, and maybe 1/2 tsp each of mustard seed and fennel seed.

Then I brought them to a very low simmer and let them cook uncovered… they took just under two hours to be creamy-soft and delicious.

A few months later, I cooked some larger Akahana Mame and Shirohana Mame dried beans from this summer’s garden, with a similar approach (plus a four-hour pre-soak), and they took about four hours to be creamy-soft and done (the Shirohana Mame were ready at three hours).

On the other hand, cooking similar dried beans from last year’s garden took almost six hours, even with some pre-soaking, so it seems to depend  how old they are (and perhaps how dry they got before being picked?)

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Polenta from Home-grown Corn

7 Nov

(from July when fresh beans were in season) Once you have jars of colorful flint corn on the counter, you look for things to do with them… what about fresh red-and-blue polenta, with slow-cooked dragon tongue beans and boiled fresh shelling beans (both also from the garden), a fried egg, and a fresh corn and tomato salad?

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Even if my favorite use of dry corn has been cornmeal pancakes, soft polenta is a nice part of a low-effort but several-hour dinner, and something I make a few times a year.

I started with 3/4 cup of dry kernels and ground them into a medium-fine cornmeal (about 1 cup). I boiled 4 cups of water with a little salt, whisked in the cornmeal, brought it briefly to a boil, then reduced it to a low simmer (adding water once when it seemed to be drying out). About an hour later, it was ready to eat, and I melted in a pat of butter.

The dragon tongue beans fresh from our garden are honestly nice just blanched and very briefly sauteed in oil with a torpedo onion or shallot, even if this time I took the more time-consuming slow-cooked vegetable approach.

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Winter Squash with Cardamom, Tahini, and Lime

31 Oct

My recent favorite way to eat winter squash is from the recipe in Ottolenghi’s Plenty, and a recent harvest of kabocha squash from our garden was a good excuse to make it again. The unexpected combination of roasted squash, fresh limes, tahini, and cardamom is remarkable:

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Preheat the oven to 400.

Start by peeling two limes (removing the pith and skin as well), slicing into rounds, and quartering (see the size in the photo above). Set them aside with a few pinches of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

Peel the squash, remove the seeds, and slice it into thin slices. I used half of a kabocha as part of a hearty dinner for two. Grind 1 Tbsp (!) of cardamom seeds, a few allspice berries (or 1 tsp of allspice), a pinch of salt, and mix with 3-4 Tbsp of olive oil. Toss the squash in this, lay it out on parchment paper on a baking tray, and roast for 15-20 minutes until soft.

Mix 1/2 cup of yogurt, 2 Tbsp of tahini, 1 Tbsp lime juice, a pinch of salt, and a few Tbsp water (enough to thin the sauce out until it’s thick but you can pour it).

Lay out the squash, the lime sections, drizzle with the yogurt sauce, and garnish with cilantro and a thin-sliced serrano pepper.