Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini, oh my!

Tragedy has struck our local ecosystem, and we had two nights of hard frost.  Sometimes this doesn't happen until October, but this year, bad luck.  It's supposed to snow tonight.  Anyway, we had advance warning, so I was out and picked all my sweet millions before the plants unfortunately froze to death.  There were millions, and now they're in my basement.  This is the "before" picture.  The "after" picture is much the same except that all of the tender plants are now brown.  The parents likewise had to bring in their hot weather crops, so the result (in my tiny personal world) is that I'll be blogging all this stuff for the next little while. 

So for the moment it's goodbye, Asian cuisine, hello Mediterranean!  That's okay, because I needed to be catapulted out of my rut.  So, yes, here are some nice meals I've had lately using garden ingredients.

Incidentally, it's interesting to see what assumptions cookbook authors make about their readers.  In their header notes to the Velvety carrot and ginger soup, shown here, the authors of The Candle Cafe Cookbook write "It's even more nutritious when you can find just-dug, farm-fresh carrots from your local market."  How about just-dug, fresh carrots from your own garden?  But maybe they don't have those in New York...the soup, however, was excellent.  I always have to get over (yet another of my many) irrational prejudices, this one against creamed soups which somehow have been classified in my mind (I blame you, Mom) as "not food."  The recipe is here, "adapted" (oh my god, de-veganized!), so sub vegetable broth for the other thing and leave out the tomato puree and veganize everything else and you'll be good to go.  I just loved this soup, and instead of a pinch of cayenne I used about a teaspoon of it, so it was bright orange and very fiery.  Note the beet chips used for garnish, an idea which I stole from Rose's blog Dandelion. This is a very good way to cook beets!

Next up, zucchini pancakes from Canadian Living.  I subbed urad flour for the eggs just as an experiment, but with non-spectacular results.  The recipe could be veganized any way, and I don't think you even would need to sub anything at all for the eggs.  I liked it though; the cornmeal gave it a nice crunch.

Then I got into Donna Klein's The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.  This is an interesting vegan cookbook for many good reasons, one among which is that she isn't into substitutions at all.  There are no meat or cheese analogues in any of her recipes, and I'll be corrected if I'm wrong, but her recipes don't even seem to call for non-dairy milk.  So I had to balance her out a little with Bryanna Clark Grogan in this meal.  Here's a dish that uses my sweet millions, Sauteed cherry tomatoes with Mediterranean herbs.  It's simple, but brilliant.  You saute the tomatoes in oil, so they go from this:

to this:

with just a few chopped herbs, and salt and pepper to taste.  You can serve this as is, or add it to another dish, which I did, to her Zucchini-lemon couscous (to which I also added some giant lima beans).  The dish in the making: 

Served here with a kabocha squash gratin and Bryanna Clark Grogan's Hot Italian sausage, formed not into sausages, which IMO would be kind of gross, but into innocent round balls, which are delicious and somehow non-gross.


  1. I love your Asian cuisine, but the Mediterranean looks to be its equal, and I can't wait to see what you come up with. The tomatoes look gorgeous — I think I'd be tempted to eat them straight from the pan before I could serve them properly! I still haven't gotten urad flour — kind of forgot — but must get to it.

  2. Wow, a hard frost already?! At least you were able to save everything. I'm still sweating down here. 87 degrees yesterday.

    I love that part about pureed soups being 'not food' because... they're a drink and should be served straight up in a glass? It can't be food if it can be eaten with a straw? Do pureed soups become food if you add croutons, or are the croutons still just the food? Funny how the mind works.

  3. Stunning photos -- the beauty in nature never fails to please the eye or palate !! Congrats on the beautiful garden treasures lovingly cared for and brought up by you!

  4. Andrea, *of course*, I did eat several from the pan, what are you thinking?

    Shenandoah, it's effing freezing here, but set to warm up again by the end of next week. I have flannel sheets, I have a fleece housecoat, I have soup, I'm good to go. Are pureed soups a drink? They're just not serious somehow. Believe me, I'm working on this, because this soup was wonderful and would have been quite gross all in chunks and pieces. The issues one inherits from one's parents!

    Thanks, Gerda! My garden treasures are mostly deceased now, as yours must be, but I'm still gamely harvesting (somewhat wilted) green onions, chives, oregano.