From the Garden this Week, August 5, 2021...
From the Garden this Week…
Tomatoes, Sweet and Hot Peppers, Eggplant, Carrots, Beets, Green Onions, Radishes, Melon, Summer Squash, Cucumbers, Basil, Grapes, Peaches and Pluots
Using your Produce… by Julie Moreno
This week’s produce give way to the classic French dish of Ratatouille, as the summer bounty is combined in one pot. I found this recipe online at thekitchn.com and it was so close to how I would make it myself that I barely changed it. I like how the eggplant and zucchini are cooked just until browned in the first step. This way the dish doesn’t turn to mush when you combine the vegetables together and simmer the sauce. You can serve this over pasta, polenta or rice or as a vegetable side dish on its own.
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large eggplant (or 2-3 small), diced large
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-3 medium zucchini or summer squash, diced large
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 large (or 2 small) bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3-4 large tomatoes, large dice
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the eggplant, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned in spots, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to the pot. Add the zucchini, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned in spots, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the eggplant. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the onion and pepper, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, the reserved eggplant and zucchini and gently stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 20-30. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Just before serving, stir in the basil. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Plastic Clamshells: We’ll take ‘em!
As our volunteers carefully pack and sort your baskets every week, the need has arisen for more of the plastic clamshells pictured here. We can protect some of the more delicate produce by packing it in these containers.
Instead of buying new plastic clamshells, we have been re-purposing old ones that are given to us. So, if you have any of these small to medium size containers lying around – please send them to us with your returned purple bag!
You don’t have to use tomatoes to make a salsa. Try this salsa and enjoy how the sweet melon combines with the spicy peppers. If you want, you can make this same recipe as a salad instead of a salsa, just cut the melon and cucumber larger.
1 small melon, finely diced
1 cup finely diced cucumber
¼ cup finely diced red or green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or cilantro
1 hot pepper, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Mix everything and eat immediately as a topping to chicken or fish or as topping on salad.
Metaphors of Soil and Soul… By Ronda May Melendez
The garden is very quiet this morning. Stepping onto the patio, my feet absorb the warmth, as I revel in the early sunlight peaking slightly above my garage. I grin. It is as if the sun is playing peek-a-boo with me. Joy radiates within me. The beauty of the sun’s playful expression is comforting. Its light dappling surfaces as it filters through tree leaves. It is lovely and serene.
I meander under the fig tree for a visit. It has been a few weeks. I think her fruit may be ripe and she, herself, may be ready to share her expressive nature. As I reach to ask, by tugging at her fruit, I find she responds affirmatively; the fruit coming away from the branch readily. In response, I gratefully gather a basket of fruit, mindful of the work she has been doing since early spring.
Making my way back across the patio, I note that the rosemary is beautiful and full, as well. His savory notes almost sing to me, asking if I might partake of his self-expression, as I did with the fig. I am delighted, too! I thank him with a smile, taking the gifts I have received back into the kitchen.
God’s creation has shared its self-expression with me; how can I express myself best with the giftings that have been shared this morning? I toss my cubed figs in sugar, leaving them to release their juices. Splashing some port across the sweetened figs, I put them on the stove, adjusting the flame to medium; perching, at last, the rosemary sprig atop it all. Bubbly begins. The figs soften. Savory, sweet aromas swirl about, tickling my senses. It is a symphony of sorts between differing life forms in God’s creation.
I think of humanity. It seems to me very similar. Our expressions are so often a blend of sweet, savory, dare I say, even saltiness? So often, with food, these combinations are needed to create depth and complexity. Interest. Is it not the same for people? The heat of life blending and tempering us all.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” - Psalm 34:8