Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cleaning the Fridge of Farmers' Market Delights

This time of year, between our CSA share and my inability to exercise any bit of self-control at the farmers' market, we end up with the counters and refrigerator full of gorgeous vegetables on the brink of becoming fodder for the compost pile. What to do? Well, I have a few suggestions. Like its cousin, Garbage Risotto, you can make a lovely garbage pasta that will clean out the fridge. And then, just for the shear fun of it, make creamed corn.

I am embarrassed to admit that I learned the joy of fresh pasta only recently. I grew up with regular dry pasta and experimented with grocery store fresh pasta as a young adult, but it wasn't until moving to Union Square and discovering the rare gem that is Capone's that I realized that pasta does not need to simply be the vehicle for sauce, but instead can represent itself just fine. I strongly urge you to visit Al and do a taste test of olive oil or vinegar, drool over his cheeses and olives, or bring home his incredibly talented daughter's handmade chocolates. Your life will change for the better.

Garbage Pasta

Serves 6

lots of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
a few scallions, chopped OR a shallot, chopped OR garlic scapes, chopped OR 1/2 onion, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces
marinated artichoke hearts
1 cup eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup tomato sauce
broccoli or cauliflower pieces
summer squash or zucchini
Swiss chard or kale, chopped small
salt and pepper
cooked sausage or chicken

basil or cilantro
fresh mozzarella cheese or any other cheese

2 lbs. fresh pasta (I like half squid ink, half lemon)

1. Saute garlic and scallion (or onion or shallot, etc) - in enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom of a large frying pan - for a few minutes.

2. Add any other ingredients you want from the list above (or add in your own ideas) EXCEPT cheeses and fresh herbs. Cook until softened and smelling good, ~ 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta (fresh cooks in 2 minutes). Drain pasta. Put back into pasta pot and pour cooked toppings over. Add cheese and herbs. Stir well. Add more olive oil to loosen it if it's too hard to stir. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Eat. I like to put nutritional yeast on top.

This next recipe is delicious as a side to almost anything.

Creamed Corn

Serves 6 as a side

2 TBSP butter
2 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teas. salt
1/2 teas. pepper
12 ears corn, kernels cut off
1/2 cup milk or cream, maybe more
1/4 lb. fresh mozzarella
1 bunch cilantro, cleaned and roughly chopped (smaller stems okay)

In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add garlic, stirring until fragrant, ~ 2 minutes. 

Add salt and pepper.

Add corn. Cook, stirring once or twice, for ~ 10 minutes. 

Add milk and cook, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until corn is starting to brown and get sticky, ~ 20 to 25 minutes. If it starts to look dry, add a little more milk.

Tear mozzarella into bite-sized pieces and add. Add cilantro and stir well. Remove from heat. Taste to see if it needs more salt or pepper. Eat.