What to do with all that produce: Part 1
As the growing season reaches its crescendo in Maryland over the next few weeks, a lot of us will be prowling the markets with hungry eyes.
I for one will often buy now and worry later about how I'm going to use all that great Maryland produce. So Chef Jerry Pellegrino and I are going to offer a two part series of shows called "What to do with all that produce". So let's dig in.
First, the produce then the solution.
Parsley. One of the easiest and most useful condiment/garnishes you can whip up is gremolato. To speak the ingredients is to give you the recipe: 9 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley; 1 tablespoon each of grated (use a microplane!) lemon zest and orange zest; one tablespoon of minced garlic, and finally a tablespoon of olive oil. Toss them together thoroughly and stick it in the fridge. Gremolato is a classic with osso bucco, but it is great any time you want super citric fresh flavor without some of the drawbacks of lemon juice (it can ruin the color of cooked green vegetables).
Sweet peppers. May we recommend sautéed peppers for brats. So easy and so delicious. We like to get a small assortment of peppers, red and green bells, banana
peppers, anaheims, even a jalapeño or two. We also like to toss in two or three different kinds of onion; vidalia and red onion of course, but don't forget the marvelous sweet little cipollino onions. Cut everything into the longest strips you can manage, then sauté in butter in a large pan over low heat. After a while, cover the pan and let the peppers gently cook. Season any way you like and serve with
grilled bratwurst or even better, Italian sausages. We like the ones made by Liberty Delight Farm and Woolsey Farm.
More fresh fruit than you know what to do with. Give a wheat berry salad a try.
Wheat berries are uncooked, unprocessed whole grains of wheat. They are the very definition of healthy eating. To serve, you need to cook them, then let them soak for a long time (overnight is fine) allowing them to absorb as much liquid as they can.
Plain water is fine, chicken broth is even better. Once cooked, they become soft and pleasantly chewy and filled with flavor. They are the perfect foil for fresh fruit.
Try plums (my favorite this summer), peaches, melons, berries, anything you can think of... as long as you include a good dollop of fresh chopped onion and parsley.
Season with any old exotic vinegar you have, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and for an extra kick, a dash of cayenne.
Peaches. Make a savory peach barbecue sauce that goes really well with grilled pork. First, sauté a batch of sweet yellow onions. Then assemble the usual barbecue sauce ingredients: the catsup, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, etc. Mix all that up in a deep sauce pan and toss in a half dozen peeled and chopped peaches. Cook it down with the onions, toss in a little salt and pepper and garlic, then work it over
with a submersible blender. Adjust the seasoning to your tastes and traditions, and
have a ball.
Classic Maryland Summer Produce. So we have white corn, and we have tomatoes, and there are watermelon, peaches, cantaloupes, sweet onions and all kinds of fresh herbs. What do you do? You make a Chesapeake Bay Salsa! Chop it all up in a food processor, and blend it with some of your favorite vinegar, a little olive oil, sprinkle it with Old Bay, and let it marinate all night, and you're ready!