Friday, July 20, 2007

Left Behind But Not Leftover

I love my farmers' market. I think that's no surprise to my Dear Readers.

Unfortunately, like love in general, it sometimes makes me do things I sort of regret later, when I'm a little bit older and just a little bit wiser. I'm certainly not going to elaborate on that where love in general is concerned, but in regard to the farmers' market, I must confess that my endless appreciation for all the delicious local food often causes me to buy far more than I can eat in a week.

I'm not happy to admit that. I try to preserve a certain amount for the winter and use the rest, but many times the weather, my weekly schedule, or other factors keep me from cooking everything I've bought.

When I had two enormous outdoor compost bins, it didn't really tie me up in knots of guilt to let food go to waste because I knew that at least the wilted and past-prime produce would break down more quickly in the bins and be used to enrich the soil in my garden. With just a small worm bin now, it's harder for me to make that excuse, so I'm trying really hard to reduce my waste this year.

So come Friday night, it's time to clear out the fridge, see what's left, and see what I can make for dinner to use up that woebegone greenery and what can be stretched into the next week.

Tonight I pulled out the small eggplant I had bought two weeks ago, the last of the tomatoes, and a handful of other ingredients in order to make a simple Persian dish called imam bayildi (often translated as "the priest has fainted," presumably because it's so good). I've seen a number of recipes for the dish over the years, but my recipe came from a long-ago friend, and since it was the first recipe that made me appreciate eggplant, I stay loyal to it.

Simply put, I sauteed sliced garlic in olive oil before adding the chopped eggplant and tomatoes, and I let them cook down into a soft mush before adding a dash of allspice, some dried parsley (since I didn't have fresh), a dash of lime juice, a squirt of local honey, and some chopped walnuts. And since I still had some whole wheat pita in the refrigerator, I toasted that and topped it with the vegetables.

I also made some haydari, just because it's been a while since I've had it, and I knew it would go well with the warm eggplant dish. Heavenly! (I'd faint, too, if I were the fainting type.)

I'll still be taking a couple of small bags of produce scraps to the Innkeeper's compost pile tomorrow, as well as feeding my worm friends, but at least I saved a few things from neglect.

And I'll try better this next week not to leave any food behind.


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