Leftover Night: Local Edition

Posted By on July 21, 2011

It is finally that time of year: The farmer’s market booths are full of local produce, and our own gardens are not far behind. At the moment we are working on the last wave of spring peas—yes, running very late thanks to the cool May we had this year. My dad planted 3 rows of shell peas, and only the last one, over at the community garden, is still producing abundantly. Some went into the freezer after a quick blanch, but more went into dishes like the one below: pasta sauced with pistachio-pea pesto, tuna, and goat cheese.

This dish works well hot, room temperature, or straight out of the fridge, so it is perfect for uncertain dinnertimes, sweltering summer evenings, or potlucks. I paired it with sourdough buttermilk biscuits, and a basic salad with lettuce, cucumbers, and preserved lemon vinaigrette.

Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

1/4 of a preserved lemon, seeds removed
1 clove garlic
1 sprig fresh mint
2-3 T white wine vinegar or white balsamic
1/3-1/2 C olive oil
Honey, to taste

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and emulsified. (My lemons are salt-fermented. I used both pulp and skin of the preserved lemon, but had to chop it first to work in my mom’s Magic Bullet.)

Source: Adapted from Choosy Beggars.

Next on the to-eat list were snow peas and scallions; the former started setting pods while we were in Ohio, unfortunately, and the latter have been in the ground since the first week of April and are just now ready to start harvesting. I threw some into a quick curried coconut-chicken soup with sweet potato cubes and kohlrabi greens, and then made a quick stir-fry with shrimp and locally produced fresh noodles, along with some shreds of carrot and Napa cabbage that needed using up. Both made fair meals, not worth preserving in the recipe files, but certainly superior to the Chinese take-out we sampled a few nights back. The snow peas were the highlight of both dishes, sweet and crisp against the soft noodles and wilted greens.

We have started bringing home Colorado peaches and apricots from the farmers market. My parents ate the apricots out of hand before I had a chance to make anything with them, but I was able to use two peaches to make this peach-coconut Dutch baby for a change of pace one night. Trying a new recipe to fit in the 12″ cast iron skillet, it came out denser than my preference, but the spiced peaches were delicious and my parents declared that it was like eating peach pie for dinner.

All the zucchini plants in our backyard and at the community garden have really taken off in the last few weeks thanks to the combination of rain and heat. I have counted at least four zucchini that should be picked within the next day or two, and male blossoms are falling off the plants constantly. I gathered up a basketful and didn’t quite get to cook with all of them before they started wilting, but I did saute some with zucchini and garlic and tossed it all through a pot of quinoa to go with wild salmon.

I think my mom is tired of eating salmon, but I cannot help myself in the summertime. These wild steelhead fillets were marinated in peach-basil vinaigrette, set aside from what I had made to dress a salad with peach slices, cucumber, and goat cheese. I can’t say that the dressing did much for the salmon, but it was very refreshing on the salad, and one to make as long as peaches are in season.

Peach-Basil Vinaigrette

3 peaches ripe, skin and pit removed, roughly chopped
1/4 C lemon juice
1/4 C sherry or white wine vinegar
1/2-1 T honey (depending on sweetness of peaches)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 T fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/4-1 1/2 C olive oil

Puree all ingredients except oil in a food processor or blend, adding olive oil slowly until smooth. (I cut this recipe in half and had enough to both marinate the salmon and dress the salad. Be sure to go easy on the basil or it can overwhelm the delicate taste of peach.)

Source: Adapted from Ikeepitoff.com.

After describing all those light summery meals, you know we had to have red meat at least once! These were buffalo minute steaks from the farmers market, cut very thin so that they cook almost instantaneously in a hot cast iron skillet. Knowing how lean buffalo meat is, I tried very hard not to let them get past medium done, and topped each steak with a dollop of butter laced with pickled shallots. As a departure from lettuce salads, I broke out the julienne slicer on my mandoline and made a quick slaw of some local kohlrabi and sweet-tart apples, dressed with goat cheese, honey and mint. My mom couldn’t taste the cabbagey kohlrabi as much as she would have liked because of the dressing, but she raved over the dead-simple shallot butter, and I agree—I will definitely be keeping a jar of those shallots on hand from now on.

Honeyed Goat Cheese Dressing

4 oz fresh creamy goat cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 T honey
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Whisk or blend all ingredients together until homogeneous and creamy.

Source: Food Network.

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