Thursday, July 29, 2010

Warm Heart of the Summer Salad

"Here is your batch of veggies for the week, we grew 5 different varieties of basil for you" I grabbed the bag with the crook of my arm and propped it against my hip as though it were an infant. I could feel the soft greens through the bag, and the hefty zucchini and cucumbers shifted their weight as I tightened my grip.
"It smells really fruity, what is that?" I asked.
"Oh, that's one of the types of basil" said woman, with a wink. She was short and tan and had dirt stained hands and thick calves. She is my CSA farmer. As I got into my car, I began to brainstorm the ways in which I would use the basil. Every avenue of ideas that I took seemed to end up at tomatoes, but I knew that we had only a few cherry tomatoes at home. I envisioned our refrigerator. After closing my eyes I could see it. There was the little light at the top. There was a greasy line-up of condiments in the door, and the bag of protruding calcium chews that I always forget to eat. There were cheeses and bagels and bottles of water. The shelves were smooth and white.

It occurred to me that there was an awful lot of white space in my mental image of our refrigerator, which means that our fridge is nearly empty. I have been too busy to shop. Luckily, I remembered the potatoes and pole beans in the crisper. The salad started to build. I would cook it in stages, each vegetable would be subjected to heat and either garlic or onion. The oil would be cooked in with the food, the vinegar sprinkled on at the end. I got home and started vigorously chopping zucchini. "Could I use Kleenex as a diaper?" Jesse had come to sit at the table and keep me company while I cooked.
"No Jesse" I knew what was coming next.
"What would happen?"
"Jesse, you are 36 and much to old to wear diapers"
"What would happen if I wore Kleenex as a diaper?"
"People would have quite a shock"
"Would I go to jail?" I didn't answer. Jesse likes to talk about the things that might put him in jail. It's like he is affirming where his boundaries are. Just as I was about to give in and answer, he surprised me by shifting his focus.
"What are we having for dinner?" He asked.
"Zucchini salad." I replied, cheerfully.
"What's zucchini?" Jesse asked. Christina whizzed behind me and stopped at the cutting board, popping a piece of raw zucchini in her mouth. "Try some"
"Hey, don't eat that raw" I said.
"Why not?"
"Cause it is meant to be eaten cooked." I replied, trying to assert myself but realizing the ridiculousness of the statement.
"I like it raw, like cucumber."
"Yeck!" Jesse said, after eating a piece of raw squash. "I'll just have a cheese sandwich"
Christina shouted after him as he got up from the table and walked away "Wait until it's cooked Jesse and try it again"

Warm Heart of the Summer Salad
1 medium green and white striped zucchini
1 medium green zucchini
1 medium yellow summer squash
2 small paddy squash
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Heat olive oil in a frying pan, so that it coats the bottom. Add a pinch of salt. Add 1/3 of your zucchini/squash mixture and 1/3 of the garlic. Lightly cook, so that the outside starts to get soft (al dente). Remove from the heat and place in a salad bowl. Put the bowl on ice. Repeat this 3 times, until all your zucchini is cooked (You really can't cook it all at once, because it will turn out mushy).

In the meantime, boil a pot of water and add
4 small diced Yukon gold potatoes
When they are tender (about 15 min) drain the water and set aside.

After the zucchini is cooked, add
1/2 large sweet vidalia onion to the pan,
cut into large pieces. Saute in high heat in olive oil and salt until the outside is a little brown. Add
1 cup diced pole beans (they look like green beans but they are more lumpy and have a nutty flavor).
Pour potatoes on top. Season with a little olive oil, pepper and salt.

Remove zucchini from the ice and drain the excess liquid that has sweated out. Mix the potato mixture into the zucchini. Add a little
chopped basil and some sliced cherry tomatoes for garnish. Toss in
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar.
Serve warm or cold.

Christina's vote: "Wild taste"

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