Saturday, July 18, 2009
Color my world
As we cycle away from those verdant drenched plates of spring we enter a techno-color world where every possible tint seems to have found a home. If May and June were a monkish study of vernal leafing the other-side of the season is dedicated to capturing the psychedelic pleasures of maturing fruits and vegetables. Sure, radishes come up early, and often, showing off through spring with their rouged exterior. But now, they are being usurped by purple and pink varieties of their own kind along with petite, vermillion tomatoes, flaxen twisted, zucchinis, a staining crimson splat of cherries and an array of very possible shade of berry from indigo to chiffon.
Long gone are the blues that dominated winter’s shortened days, and now my body rises to the early signaling sun motivated to market, chop and serve up the daily rainbow. This is the plate that nutritionists beg us to eat for all the vitamins and anti-oxidants that help maintain this machine of ours. Without even fully extending an arm a bushel-full of nature’s magical formula is at hand. I wonder how many months supply I can squirrel away within the recesses of every cell? Impart my freezing, pickling and canning is an attempt to capture all the current healthful beauty and emotional lift that is painfully needed when the palest of periwinkle coats the morning. Though for now, I am simply slicing fuchsia targeted beets; voraciously shoveling bi-colored corn niblets and halving blushing apricots almost thrice daily.
Ratatouille – yields 6 to 8 servings
1 small eggplant (about 1/2 pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion – diced 1/2-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic – peeled and chopped
1 carrot – diced 1/2-inch cubes
1 bulb fennel - diced 1/2-inch cubes
1 red pepper – seeds discard, and diced into 1/2-inch square
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves – chopped
2 teaspoons lavender buds
1/4-cup silvered almonds – lightly toasted
2 pints cherry tomatoes
2 small yellow zucchini - diced 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup fresh shelling peas (approx. 3/4 pound)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Peel the eggplant, and then dice into 1/2-inch cubes. Place in a colander and toss with 2 teaspoons of salt. Allow the eggplant to sit for 20 to 30 minutes and sweat. This will rid it of some of its bitter taste. Wash the eggplant well, and pat dry with a clean towel.
Heat a 10-inch skillet over a medium high heat and add the oil and onions. Cook the onions until they brown, about 7 minutes. Then mix in the garlic, carrot, fennel, red pepper, eggplant, thyme, lavender and almonds; and toss to coat well. Then mix in the cherry tomatoes, and reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Then add the zucchini and peas. Season with salt and pepper, and cook another 5 minutes.