L to R: Kale, Cherry Tomatoes, Pickling Cucumbers, Slicing Cucumbers, Green Beans, Summer Squashes, Chile Peppers, Zucchini, Scallions, Parsley, White Eggplant, Red Bell Peppers, Celery, Bok Choy, Tomatoes.
While I thoroughly enjoyed my ten-day tribute to Julia Child and everything I’ve learned from her, I have realized there wasn’t a whole lot of local, seasonal vegetable action there. So, I am making up for that by dispatching about 10 lbs. of vegetables tonight. First up is the salad for tonight’s dinner. Two good-sized cucumbers, seeded and chopped, and enough cherry tomatoes to balance the flavor and color, sprinkled with salt and pepper, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice, tossed and left to sit at room temperature until dinner time.
While dinner was cooking, I roughly chopped tomatoes, eggplants, two different summer squashes, italian peppers, celery, onion, and garlic for a big pot of vegetable sauce. I call it my pasta sauce base, because I combine it with browned sausage or hamburger, maybe add some more chopped veg, and serve it over pasta. It freezes well, and it’s an easy way to move a surplus of vegetables out of the fridge (to make room for more of course).
I started off with the onion and celery sauteing in olive oil, added the garlic to cook until fragrant, then in went the giant bowl of summer (squash, eggplant, peppers).
Once all those vegetables have softened, in go the tomatoes. I didn’t bother to peel or seed these, because I am lazy and it’s all going through the food mill later. Sadly, my laziness has been rewarded by America’s Test Kitchen; while reading a recipe for a summer vegetable gratin, I discovered that the jelly and seeds of tomatoes contain 3 times as much glutamic acid (the flavor compound responsible for umami) as the flesh. So unless it’s absolutely necessary, you might not want to seed your tomatoes for your favorite sauce next time.
Once the tomatoes released a visible amount of liquid, I added dried herbs (basil, oregano, bay leaf, thyme), and a couple more tomatoes because it looked like it needed more, put the lid on, and let it simmer slowly until all the vegetables are really soft and have let go of a lot of liquid.
When it has become really juicy, it’s time for the food mill. It’s a kind of old-fashioned looking kitchen tool, but there really isn’t any other tool that does what it does. It’s good upper arm exercise too.
Once you’re done cranking the mixture through the food mill, all the peels and seeds remain in the mill, and a lovely, nearly smooth liquid has been extracted. This is bound for the freezer, so we can have summery-tasting pasta sauce in the deepest cold nights of winter. But for tonight, the cucumber tomato salad was sweet, crispy, and refreshing, and there’s plenty more cucumber and tomato in the house for tomorrow. There’s another batch of pickles to can this weekend, and I have two great vegetable recipes from America’s Test Kitchen to try out. Gotta take advantage of these vegetables now, because pretty soon they are all going to be a summer memory once again.
See you on down the Road. :)