Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Summertime Bounty, pt. 2

medley of tomatoes
Originally uploaded by michelle1975.

OK, so later last Sunday, we regrouped back at home after our fact-finding mission and got busy putting our market finds to good use. At Chez Nino we'd found these beautiful tomatoes in yellow, orange, and a dark purple hue. We asked if we could mix and match these tomatoes and the clerk put together a lovely basket of all three types, taking care to select the very best tomatoes he could find. We tasted them when we got home and decided that we'd use the dark ones for a salad, because they had more body to them, and the yellow and orange ones for a sauce. The salad was a classic tomato and bocconcini salad with basil and balsamic vinegar. The tomatoes were perfectly ripe and outrageously tasty, so you can just imagine how good the whole combo tasted. I took the yellow and orange tomatoes, blanched them, peeled them, and added them to some sauteed new garlic, some herbs, and a dried red pepper, and turned them into a devilishly spicy arrabbiata inspired by our sighting of the Our Lady of Pompeii church earlier that same day. We served the sauce with penne lisce and some crusty bread.

A couple of years ago Michelle had made some absolutely magical stuffed zucchini blossoms for a small dinner party we threw. We decided it would be a good idea to bring back the magic while zucchini blossoms are still in season (note: the season is short), but we couldn't find the recipe Michelle had used the first time around, so Michelle did a little improvising. She stuffed them with chèvre, whipped up a simple beer batter (just beer and flour) and dipped them, and then fried them lightly in oil. If you haven't had stuffed zucchini blossoms, do yourself a favor and try them out. They're really very easy to make, they look like a million bucks, and they make for a fantastic summer appetizer.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
Originally uploaded by michelle1975.

Early on in our trip to the market, A. decided that he wanted to make this Roman salad he'd made before. The salad in question is made with fava beans, and when he saw that there were still some fava beans available at the market, he decided we simply had to make this salad. In addition to the fava beans, A. picked up some young asparagus, and then took us on a hunt for aged Pecorino--a hunt that ultimately led us to La Baie des Fromages. When he got to our place, he blanched the fava beans and the asparagus, shelled the beans, julienned the asparagus, added some arugula from our garden, and tossed them together, then finished everything off with some crumbled Pecorino and a light olive oil and balsamic dressing. I'm not exactly sure what this salad is called, so I just called it Mr. G's Insalata Romana. All you really need to know is that it was divine.

Mr. G's Insalata Romana
Originally uploaded by michelle1975.

So our Sunday meal was made up of salads, of pasta, of olives, bread, cheese, and grapes, and then, when it was time to wrap things up, we did so in the only appropriate way: with our fresh strawberries. Michelle had carefully picked through the massive amount of strawberries we purchased and divided them into three groups: those that were fine for making strawberry syrup, those that were right for making strawberry preserves, and those that were so perfect we just had to eat them as is. Actually, in all honesty, there was a fourth group: those that didn't make the cut at all. These strawberries were so good, though, Michelle only found 3 out-and-out rejects in the whole batch. The picture below is of the crème de la crème de la crème. Fittingly, we served them with fresh cream.


Anonymous said...

I found that medley of tomatoes intriguing and those strawberries the pick of the crop look so sweet!

aj kinik said...

Those tomatoes were not only pretty, they were the best I've tasted so far this year. And the strawberries? Well, they were fantastic. Thank God, we canned some. They're not gone yet.