For the past month or so I’ve been enjoying a lot of local produce, thanks to DC’s many farmer’s markets (so far my favorite is a small farmstand by my building, near the intersection of Massachusetts & Wisconsin, but the Foggy Bottom one is pretty swanky. Gorgeous heirloom tomatoes…gorgeous and expensive). Below are a few dishes I’ve been making with what’s out there right now (think tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and some delicious early apples).
First of all, a new approach to cucumbers: Almost-Pickles
I got the idea for these from a small cafe near Harper’s Ferry (whose name I don’t know! If you do please tell me). I don’t really like pickles, but the green accoutrements served with their sandwiches looked like they hadn’t deviated too far from the state of nature. I asked how they made them, and was told that they’re pickled – but only for an hour or so. They have all the best parts of pickles and the best parts of raw cucumbers, plus you don’t have to think very far in advance to make them!
Take 1 cucumber, sliced in medallions which are then quartered or halved.
Soak in vinegar, sugar, salt, and allspice for about an hour.
Serve with sandwiches or as a tart & delicious appetizer!
There’s almost nothing better than a ripe summer tomato, a bit of mozzarella, and a little basil topped off with a drizzle of olive oil & balsamic and a dusting of salt. But in case you’re getting tired of plain tomatoes (and don’t want to go to the trouble of making a sauce from scratch with them), there are plenty of other options. One is a chickpea & goat cheese salad (pictured above and described here). Another is chutney grilled cheese (a brilliant idea inspired by my friend Vish from the Peace Corps).
So here’s the deal: regular old grilled cheese, plus several slices of fresh tomato and a generous layering of the chutney of your choice on the inside. The sweet & sour chutney mixing with the sweet tomato and the salty cheese (and plenty of buttery goodness, if you make your grilled cheese the same way I do) will leave you wanting more…you might just have to make two. You can also start to substitute thin slices of crisp apples once tomatoes start going out of season.
You know what’s even better than grilled cheese? Grilled cheese chopped up into small itty bitty pieces and used as croutons in delicious soups (that idea borrowed from my friend Mia). Just sayin.
There are so many zucchini in the summertime. They’re everywhere. They’re so abundant that they leave me wondering if maybe the eating seasonally thing isn’t so great after all, because I miss these so much in the winter and get tired of them so fast in the summer.
Some fun things to do with zucchini:
Chop them into matchsticks and throw them in an omelette
Peel and saute pasta-style, as described here
Cut into matchsticks or grate coarsely and prepare like this, as a side dish or a bed upon which to serve a fish dish
Batter sliced zucchini with a bit of flour & water, deep fry & serve salted
Throw them into pasta sauce, red or white
Slice them thinly and throw them on top of a frozen pizza, along with some high quality grated Parmesan, sliced garlic cloves and olive oil and you can fool anyone into thinking they’re eating a homemade artisan concoction…