I can’t tell you how excited I was to be chosen again this month for the Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event – 24 foodies from around the world create meals in the same 24 hour period and write about it on their 24 food blogs. My submission for this month was something that came naturally to me – a meal exclusively based on what’s available from my own garden, my CSA farm, or the farmers’ market. What we ended up with was a delicious vegetarian meal made up of an assortment of ingredients – including a ton of zucchini! I’m not a vegetarian, and I love steak as much as the next cowgirl, but I must tell you this dinner was great. I’ll give you a rundown of what mother nature provided and what I made out of the ingredients today, then check back each day this week as I post the full recipes. I should have put a ruler next to this zucchini – it was 4 inches long one day and by the time I checked it a few days longer it was longer than my arm. Fortunately I had ready PW’s post about fried shoe string zucchini, so I whipped them up for a great salty appetizer. BTW, salty appetizers like this go great with a glass of sparkling wine!
When you fry up the zucchini strands you’ll be surprised at how long they take to start turning brown – thanks to all of the moisture in vegetables – but once, they start, they can burn quickly, so keep an eye on them!
From my CSA farm this week I got some large and small cucumbers that were a natural complement to the tomatoes, mint, and parsley from my own garden – they were crying to be made into tabbouleh.When you get tabbouleh in many Middle Eastern restaurants it’s often mostly parsley (it’s intended to be a palate cleanser), but I like mine with more vegetables and bulgur (cracked wheat) and a healthy dose of lemon juice. I also had some leaf lettuce from the farm – the very last of early summer as it burns too easily once the real heat arrives – so I paired that with some spring onion slices (from the farm) and tomatoes (from my garden) for a simple green salad with a vinaigrette. One of the more well known cheese makers in Colorado is Haystack Mountain out of Niwot, right near Boulder. You can get their cheese in traditional grocery stores now and I always opt for this local product over a French chevre.
My second round of arugula in my garden was just popping up and it’s really best eaten when the leaves are baby small like this.
I also got some wonderful beets from the farm this week – to me beets are just begging to be roasted and paired with goat cheese.
After roasting the beets I sliced them rather thin on a mandoline, layered them with softened goat cheese, and topped the whole thing with baby arugula and minced chives from my garden. I drizzled the whole thing with a simple shallot vinaigrette just before serving.
This pile of other vegetables were out of the CSA farm bag this week (except the parsley from my garden) – carrots, broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini, and spring onions.
I’d also gotten some bulbs of fresh spring garlic – notice how tight the head still is – and man, is it strong and flavorful, just the way I like it!
Pappardelle pasta is found at the farmers’ markets in Colorado so I picked up one of the wonderful flavored orzos – lemon and garlic.
My second crop of basil (the first drowned in the early summer rains we had this year in Colorado) is doing beautifully, and the thing about basil is, if you don’t continually cut it back and use it, it starts to bolt and go to seed. Can’t let that happen, so I snipped off all of the lovely green leafy tips.
I turned all of those vegetables, herbs, and pasta into a hearty orzo dish with vegetables that was finished simply with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for a lighter summer pasta dish.I happened to have picked up some baby bok choy from the market, so not knowing what else to do with it I just sauteed it until tender crisp and served it with a drizzle of sesame oil.
Dessert was a bit more of a challenge given the time of year and what’s harvested in Colorado now. Had this been late summer I would have opted for some grilled peaches from the Western Slope, but it seems the zucchini was going for one last role in this dinner.
I’ve served a pumpkin bread with ice cream on it during the holidays so I figured this would work. I made my traditional zucchini bread, sliced it warm and served with a generous scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream on top. It was too late (and our table was too messy by then) to get a snapshot of that, but it was a fabulous way to finish off the meal! My plans had been to serve the meal al fresco in my courtyard, but as Colorado weather is prone to do, it turned on us and to avoid the torrential downpour, we gathered inside for the feast. I hope to do another Foodbuzz event where I can include pictures of the outdoor dining. Until then, look for all of these recipes and more during the week to come!