Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Summer Garden Salad
Sometimes all you need is a light touch to bring out the flavor in your food. A light touch and really great quality ingredients. Yesterday the boys and I stopped briefly at our community garden plot to pick produce for dinner. Their excitement and pride was adorable as they examined all our plants and happily helped harvest onions (although ours are a bit more like overgrown scallions right now), eggplant, nasturtium leaves and tomatoes. They also took the opportunity to pet our corn plants. I must admit as a native New Yorker I am as giddy as they are about growing my own food. I mean really, I grew food!
My plans for dinner were simple, good bread, several cheeses, prosciutto and a simple salad using my garden produce and avocado. I sliced the eggplant lengthwise and coated the pieces and the baby onions with olive oil and grilled them all over low heat. After the vegetables were done grilling I sliced the eggplant into bite sized pieces and chopped up all of the onion that was good (the stalks of the onion gets very charred on the grill). Then I tossed the grilled eggplant with 2 sliced avocados, the chopped tomatoes and the leaves from our nasturtium plant with a splash of high quality balsamic vinegar, the stuff that has been aged for a long time (mine has aged for 21 years) and extra virgin olive oil, then kosher salt and of course freshly ground black pepper.
Our neighbor came over for dinner and watched my strange ritual of photographing my food and I explained about the blog. I explained that I take the photos before I am sure the dish is worth photographing and sharing here. As he took seconds of salad Paul commented, "Definitely worth photographing."
I am glad the salad was enjoyed so much as this may be the end of my garden's tomatoes. Late blight has hit here in the Northeast and the tomato plants in my garden plot are dying. So far the plants in the front of my house look fine, but I am not holding my breath. I go away on vacation for a week soon and I fully expect to come back to dead plants. Apparently the disease developed on the plants grown for the big box stores. Yet another lesson that food, even plants starts, are not supposed to be grown in huge monocultures. The presence of late blight so early coupled with our wet summer has meant the disease is practically unavoidable. The end result is that this year I may need to buy canned tomatoes. I only hope this will make people appreciate small farmers, and the work they do, even more.
The eggplants were still babies when I picked them but I think I was inspired by Foodie Fights Battle #8: Eggplant and White Wine. I won the Foodie Fights Battle #7: Pineaple and Basil so I was a judge for Battle 8. After reading and obsessing over 6 blog posts about eggplant I couldn't stop thinking about eating mine. Now I am glad I did because the results were delicious.