Saturday, October 12, 2013

Harvest Time Food

What a great time of year to be a cook! Besides the tomatoes, squash, eggplant, beans okra and peppers that we associate with summertime, we also have greens, radishes and turnips that grow to perfection in cooler weather. This is a great time to go to any of the farmer's markets around the area. Not only can you supplement your own fresh produce with the best veggies and fruits from local farmers, you can also find meats, honey, eggs, cheeses and baked goods to round out the meal.We are still cutting basil and dill, even as the cool weather herbs, like parsley and cilantro, come into production. When it comes to making dinner with such readily available abundance, the hardest part may be choosing what NOT to eat. To help you decide, here are some great recipes that feature fresh seasonal vegetables.

Raw Vegan Thai Curry Soup

This chilled soup provides a perfect way to enjoy the abundance of fresh produce available at the end of the summer growing season. If you don’t have fresh lemongrass, add the juice and zest of a small lemon to the blender. 

2 cups plain coconut water, chilled
2 cloves garlic
½ cup chopped, peeled lemongrass stems
1 piece of fresh ginger, about the size of an olive
2 tablespoons soy sauce (preferably nama shoyu)
¼ teaspoon curry powder

heirloom tomato, diced
celery, thinly sliced
radish, small dice
leeks, white part, small dice
red bell pepper, small dice
fresh cayenne pepper, sliced into rings
zucchini, ¼” slices with skin, diced
fresh basil leaves, preferably purple, shredded
fresh mint leaves, shredded

In the jar of a blender, combine the coconut water, garlic, lemongrass and ginger and process until liquefied. Strain, discarding the solids, then add the soy sauce and curry powder. Stir well and chill until ready to serve. May be made 8 hours in advance. Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes.

Place small amounts of each of the garnishes in chilled soup bowls and ladle the soup over the top. Serve immediately.
Fried Green Tomato Napoleons with Green Sauce
This vegetarian main dish can be made either with unripened tomatoes, or one of the varieties that is green when ripe. The recipe makes two servings but is easily doubled.
2 green tomatoes, each about the size of a baseball
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cornbread mix, such as Martha White, for dredging
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 ounces fresh goat cheese
Two handfuls of fresh field greens, washed well and spun dry
Green dressing (Recipe follows)
Sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)
Slice the tomatoes into uniform slices about 3/8 inch thick, discarding the end pieces. You should have six nice slices. Spread the slices on a plate or tray and sprinkle lightly with salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet until its surface ripples. Dip the tomato slices in the cornbread mix, coating them well on both sides. Shake off the excess and fry in batches in the hot oil until golden, turning once, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked tomatoes to a wire rack set over paper towels and keep warm. When all of the tomatoes are cooked, assemble the dish on two warmed plates. Place a tomato slice in the center of the plate, top with a tablespoon of goat cheese, and a second tomato slice. Repeat with the remaining cheese and tomatoes. Surround the tomato napoleons with field greens and drizzle the green dressing over all. Spice it up with Sriracha sauce if desired.

Green Dressing
12 leaves mizuna or other mild mustard greens
  2 large stalks of fresh cilantro
  2 large sprigs of fresh parsley
  1 large clove garlic, peeled
  1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  ½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Holding the mizuna, cilantro and parsley by the stems like a bouquet of flowers, immerse the leaves in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Drain well. Cut off the unblanched portion of the stems and discard. Squeeze the greens dry in your hand, and transfer them to a blender jar. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until you have a uniform dressing. Serve immediately.

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