Monday, August 10, 2009

What's For Dinner

Our refrigerator is stocked full of vegetables recently picked from the garden: cabbage, squash, broccoli and tomatoes; onions, potatoes, green beans, carrots and eggplant...

So we do what we normally do and that is to share with friends and neighbors, but an interesting thing is happening. People who have never planted a garden, did so this year, and those with smaller gardens have expanded them.

Several years ago, out of necessity, I decided to cook up large quantities of the vegetables in my biggest pot and came up with the following recipe. The details are not exact since the size and number of vegetables used will vary. This simply gives you a guideline to follow based upon that and ones taster, your palate.

Rinse and dry the vegetables. The most time consuming part is cutting all of them into nice sized pieces (1 to 1 1/2 inches). Then set aside in several bowls.

Fresh Garden Medley from Diana's kitchen

Last night's ingredients:

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil (or canola oil)
1 large sweet onion, diced (we grow Walla Walla and this year added Texas Sweets)
1 sweet red and 1 orange pepper (seeded and cut into pieces)
Eggplants (we grow Ichiban, beautiful purple tender skin)
3 cloves garlic, diced
Kosher salt (tiny bits, in increments... likely no more than 1/2 teaspoon in total)
Fresh ground pepper (according to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less... we like a little heat)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, approximate
1 cup fresh basil (fresh is better but if you don’t have it, 1/4 cup dried should do)
3 cups tomatoes (I used last years that were put in freezer bags) and about 1/4 cup water to gather any remaining juices in the bag
1 large zucchini
Green beans
Several yellow squash

Place oil in a large Dutch oven, heat and add onions. Cook for about 1-2 minutes and seasoned with a touch of kosher salt and some fresh ground pepper, and stir. Add the sweet pepper pieces and eggplant and sauté for a few more minutes. Add fresh garlic, a little more fresh ground pepper, cayenne, red pepper flakes, and basil. Stir and cook for another minute or two. Add tomatoes and the 1/4 cup water. Once heated through, the zucchini, green beans and squash go into the pot. Add a few more sprinkles of salt and pepper according to taste. (It takes so very little salt to bring out the fresh flavors, and the tomatoes and fresh vegetables make their own juice.)

Stir until all vegetables are coated and heated through. Place the lid on the Dutch oven, slightly ajar, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. We like our vegetables crisp, so be careful not to overcook.

And this was last night's dinner... simple, a cornucopia of beautiful color, with a little spice that delights, and served with a crusty and coarse olive bread, a crostini, drizzled with a bit of our favorite extra virgin olive oil and toasted in the oven. Add a glass of a favorite chilled white wine and it suits us perfectly.

Ah yes, and we have enough for one more dinner tonight. Sure hope you enjoy the recipe.