Thursday, August 6, 2009

Veggies for One...Hundred

I am overwhelmed. It had been three days since I had last ventured into my garden, and now I can barely move once inside. It is difficult to distinguish one tomato plant from the next, the basil threatens to seed (didnt I just make a shwack of pesto), I cant keep up with the arugula, and the lone head of butter lettuce is the tenth, undiscovered planet. And the zucchini- oh god the zucchini-why did I plant three varieties, why...

Yes, slightly overwhelmed and prepared to pawn veggies off on neighbors, friends and family, any random person I meet in the street looking in need of a summer squash. I need a bigger freezer for what I stow for winter, a bigger stomach and vitamin tolerancy, and I really need to remember that right now, I am just one, a single gal who needs to learn her vegetable limits.

You see, I have a problem: I cannot pass up certain veggies. Aside from the green peppers that I can easily walk on by (possibly holding my nose), I cannot so ignore a beautiful tight head of bibb, an artichoke begging to be steamed, bulbs of baby fennel, or glistening young onions. I fill my fridge and cram my crispers as if we are coming to a second ice age and I may lose any chance of greens again. And I do this, time and again, picking up something pretty at the farmers market only to shudder when I see the less-than-pretty-needs-to-be-eaten stock I already have.

Take tonight for example. Despite the abundant garden of mine offering a colander full of fava beans, another of swiss chard, and the first ripe and ready tomatos (so exciting), I have just finished a bowl of cauliflower linguine for dinner. I do not grow cauliflower. I bought it this morning at a farm I work at when not at the restaurant, simply because I had to have it. Simply because I had never seen purple cauliflower before, had never tried the green, and their vibrancy was so beautiful that I had to, I just had to. No matter that I already had more than half a head of regular the regular old white florets in my fridge; I took one of each, another pound of cauliflower.

Oh and how good it was too. Each color tasted different. Moreover, the white variety I got from Tom tasted different even, than the lot I had already from another local farmer. Toms was sweeter, with a bit more ting, while the other was creamier, nutty.

But guilt sets in. And wonder. What do I do now with the rest of the florets. No, the rest of the fridge. Honestly, you would think I had pet rabbits (I also bought five pounds of rainbow carrots at the farm just two days ago). What do I do with the patty pans or the leeks Ive had for over a week. There are not enough meals in the day; beets on my oatmeal, perhaps, pea sundaes. That oughta use some up. And salad sizes will have to double, because, even though the overwhelming garden experience was still fresh in my mind from this morning, tonight, when at my aunts, she offered me the veg from her garden taht would not last while they are away on holidays. Sorry, I should have said, but I am up to my ears in lettuce and beans, instead I walked away with a grocery bag of more lettuce, cucumbers, tomatos and chives. I am opening a small produce stand tomorrow.

What is worst about this, is that I lose enjoyment in my meal if I feel obligated to make it. If I have to have cauliflower for dinner for fear of its decay, I resent having bought it at all, get angry that I have done it again, and eat with a grudge against no one but myself--and the stupid cauliflower for looking so bloody attractive.

But there are no regrets tonight. I am satisfied, and glad for my purchase...for now

Cauliflower Pasta with Walnuts, Parsely and Ricotta Salata
this recipe was adapted from Alice Waters Chez Panisse Vegetables, my bible when it comes to emptying my fridge or dealing with my latest trip to the market.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, warm some olive oil in a skillet and add:
finely sliced shallot
minced garlic

Gently soften and season with dried chilis. Cook pasta and while doing so, add to skillet:
1 1é2 cups trimmed cauliflower florets
Splash white wine

Cover until pasta is ready, then toss the two together and top with toasted walnuts, chopped fresh parsely and ricotta salata cheese.

Oh, and to use up the rest of the head of cauliflower:
Make a risotto with fresh mint and lemon zest
Soup with a gruyere grilled cheese
Steamed over barley and topped with salsa verde or spicy pannagratto

No comments:

Post a Comment