Saturday, October 11, 2008

Making the Roast of Leftover Produce

It's astonishing how quickly my refrigerator fills up with produce.

Between farmers' markets on Saturdays, CSA pickups on Wednesdays, and the occasional garden visit, my fridge has the tendency to overflow with green things. And even though my social calendar hasn't overflowed in an equal fashion lately, I've been busy enough that I just haven't been able to keep up.

Thank heavens for the weekend! Now I finally have a chance to catch up...

After returning from the market this morning, I balanced my Saturday cleaning (laundry, etc.) with kitchen work. First I quartered a lot of tomatoes, scattered them in two small glass baking dishes, drizzled them with olive oil and lemon basil syrup and sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and slid them into the oven for a slow roast.

While those cooked, I breaded eggplant slices and slid a pan full of those into the oven to bake, too. After that, I made lunch: colcannon, an Irish potato dish using CSA potatoes, kale and carrots and scallions from my own garden, butter and yogurt for creaminess, and a bit of shredded local cheddar cheese to top it all off. Delicious!

By the time the eggplant came out of the oven, I had lunch made and had also found time to strain and bottle my nasturtium vinegar, now an amazing brilliant orange color.

Once I had finished lunch, the tomatoes proved to be done, so I pulled them out and slid a couple trays of herbs into the oven to finish drying (just for a few minutes, so they didn't get too crisp and dark).

I pureed the tomatoes with some roasted garlic and a bit of homemade vegetable broth in order to make a quick soup to have on hand for meals next week. (I also enjoyed a little dish of just a few warm roasted tomatoes with some crumbled goat cheese melting into them. Divine!)

Next, it was time to roast the tomatillos with onion and part of a poblano pepper, making a savory, soft mix of vegetables to set aside for dinner.

I had originally thought to make corn crepes and fill them with the tomatillo mixture. But I didn't have much of the roasted vegetables to fill more than one crepe, and I was out of milk and eggs, so I switched gears and made cheddar cheese grits, topped them with steamed green beans, and then combined the roasted tomatillo mix with plain yogurt and cumin for a savory topping. The Renaissance Man, who came by for dinner, thought it was a pretty good result for an off-the-cuff experiment!

And with support like that, how could I fail to give him dessert? Since I got pears in my CSA share a couple of weeks ago, I've been saving a few to make the pear-hazelnut torte I fell in love with two years back. I love how the cake batter puffed up a little in the middle where the pears didn't meet, and pushed up the hazelnut-sugar streusel for a little cap. So tasty!

I've still got plenty of produce in the refrigerator, but that's all I could manage for today, and it gets me a head start on next week.

So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to make the most of the rest of my weekend!

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At 10/14/2008 8:14 AM, Blogger Tara said...

That cake looks divine! (I'm drooling...)

At 10/14/2008 8:53 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

It's marvelous, Tara. It comes from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison, which is an awesome cookbook that celebrates farmers' markets. I highly recommend it!

At 10/14/2008 8:35 PM, Anonymous Janet said...

Lord have mercy. Do you just know this stuff off the top of your head, or, in addition to preparing all this food, do you spend hours figuring out what to make?? It's amazing, either way.

At 10/15/2008 7:22 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Uh... well, yes, and sort of. :-) Some of these things (herbal vinegar, breaded eggplant, cheese grits) I've done enough times before that I don't need to see the original recipe. The colcannon I spot-checked but basically knew. The slow roasted tomatoes come from Sally Schneider's The Improvisational Cook. The basic idea of roasting the tomatillos came from a CSA newsletter (might have even been Tara's recipe!), though I decided on the yogurt mix myself. And the pear-hazelnut torte is something I like to make each fall since I found it.

I guess I just look at what I have sitting around, figure out how best to use it, then hunt up a recipe if needed. But you don't want to know how much food is still languishing.......

At 10/15/2008 2:27 PM, Blogger Tara said...

I'm with Janet. Really, you need to teach a class on this stuff or something! I'm going to see if the library has that cookbook.
One of the salsa recipes was mine. My sister also taught me how to make a good salsa by grilling tomatoes, red onions and green onions (in any combo that suits you, just brush with EVOO first). After they've grilled you throw the whole mess in the processor with some good salt and a squirt of lime juice. Very tasty. I imagine you could use tomatillos instead.

At 10/15/2008 2:30 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

If I knew how to put it all together and where to have such a class, I'd consider it!

I've seen recipes for grilled salsa (even ones that use grilled corn or peaches) and they do sound good. No grill in my equipment, though...


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