What to do with all that produce: Part II
Last week we gave you a useful little show chock full of ideas for using all that summer produce that is piling up around us. And this week we'll do it some more. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino and I think people are probably a little overwhelmed with all the good things that are out there, courtesy of our great Maryland farmers.
All sorts of heirloom tomatoes. Mixed medley heritage tomato salad. This is as simple as it gets, but also one of your best bets. Pick up a half dozen different heirloom tomatoes, going for a variety of colors and sizes. Cut them up into bite size pieces, along with some shredded onion, and drizzle on your favorite vinaigrette and a little salt and pepper. Serve chilled.
Exotic peppers. Ancho chile mole. Maryland has become such a great spot for growing every pepper under the sun, that you can find just about anything. I love the big fat poblano pepper, and especially its smoked, dried incarnation, the ancho.
These mildly hot, very smoky peppers have a ton of flavor. The Mexicans call their sauces molés, and the ancho version is a national staple. The recipe (see below)
is a blend of soaked ancho chilies, nuts raisins and seeds, plum tomatoes and that Mexican innovation, chocolate. Ancho mole is extremely versatile: consider it a near universal condiment and add it to anything that needs a kick.
Eggplants. Turkish meatballs with eggplant puree (The Mediterranean Kitchen, Joyce Goldstein p.254) Our Maryland farmers are giving us well over a dozen different varieties of eggplants these days. I look to the Mideast for ideas, and one of my favorite cookbooks suggests this dish. Try getting some ground lamb from Woolsey Farm for your meatballs. You'll be mixing it with chopped onions, tomato sauce and spices. To cover the meatballs, the Turks have a thick sauce called Hunkar Begendi, which is an eggplant puree blended with simple béchamel sauce.
Whip it all together and serve with a side dish of bulgur wheat and ripe tomatoes.
Fresh garlic. Classic aioli, flavored with herbs, shredded crab meat and Old Bay.
A lot of farmers set aside a portion of their fields to grow garlic, which is an easy crop. Ordinarily, they like to dry-age it a while, so it comes to the market ready to use. Making the famous garlicky Provencal mayonnaise called aioli is a perfect excuse to buy a culinary mortar and pestle, a necessity for doing it right. Aioli is naturally very tangy, with all that garlic. Modify it with a dash of herbes de Provence, and then localize it with a serving of shredded crab meat. This is sort
of a crab dip idea, but it is miles apart from the standard Baltimore dish.
Watermelon. Watermelon Gazpacho. We will have watermelons in the market through October, so here's a nice way to use them. Seedless watermelons have opened up a lot of opportunities to exploit the melon's crisp sweetness. You'll need about 4 cups of watermelon, some cucumber, red onion, and a couple tablespoons of lime zest. This is a food processor recipe, so whirl all that up with some first class olive oil, a little kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Refrigerate until it is well chilled, then serve it with a sprinkling of chopped mint.