Now that summer is REALLY underway (I harvested the first ripe tomatoes a couple days ago), I consider what is available from the garden as I plan our meals and snacks. And whatever we’re not eating now, I’m trying to preserve for future meals. Thus I’ve been blanching and freezing green beans and broccoli, and I’ve been cooking with Swiss chard and making lots of salad lately.
Here are several ways I’ve used garden produce in the last week:
Cucumbers – The simplest way to eat them is still a favorite: I like to slice them in half lengthwise and sprinkle Mrs. Dash lemon pepper on them. This fresh veggie treat replaces the baby carrots that accompany my lunches throughout the rest of the year. And I made the first jar of my mom’s brined pickles, so those have accompanied grilled burgers and sandwiches at Chez Rea. Tonight I made cucumber sandwiches with my chives-and-dill spread and the special addition of smoked salmon made by a friend and sliced banana pepper and tarragon (pictured above).
Lettuce – #1 son has declared that the crunch of lettuce takes a sandwich “to the next level,” so of course we’ve been adding lettuce (and now tomatoes, too!) to our sandwiches and burgers. I’ve also made a couple chef’s salad dinners this week, inspired not only by all the lettuce getting ready to bolt but also by the gift of local organic eggs from a friend’s cousin. I boiled some eggs, thawed ham cubes from the freezer, cut or crumbled some cheese, made a creamy dressing and mixed it all with garden lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
Swiss Chard – That gift of eggs also inspired me to make something like what my mom used to make whenever she had chard. She called it a tortilla, and I have learned that it is a variation of the Spanish style tortilla–probably something she picked up during her years in Argentina. Hers (and now mine) is a lot like the Swiss Chard Tortilla Española recipe in this video except that it probably had onion instead of garlic and whatever cheese she had around, if any, rather than the Parmesan.
Eggplant – Several of the Ichiban eggplant I’m growing this year are ready to harvest, so I pickled a couple and made a quick version of my favorite eggplant dip. I served it with bagel chips and thin wheat crackers alongside the salmon and cucumber sandwiches we had tonight. I added a bit of rosemary to the eggplant-garlic spread and a bit of tarragon to the cucumbers. Maybe tomorrow night I will saute more eggplant with onions and peppers and roasted cherry tomatoes and whatever else strikes my fancy. I could add turkey chunks and and fresh basil and serve it over pasta–another garden inspired meal!
Garden to table eating is the taste of summer–my favorite season!