What’s To Eat: Farmers Market Vegetable Saute
I’m not a big vegetable kind of guy. They’re not my strongest suit in the grocery store or the kitchen. When I think about what I would eat for my last meal, it’s protein, not vegetables. But generally when I find something I like to eat or cook, I latch on to it in a big way. Like Escalaveda. I’ve made that 6 or 8 times since I first learned to make it, each time trying to vary it and make it better. And lately I’ve been making Ratatouille or Vegetable Saute or whatever you want to call it. Hey, it’s Farmers Market season and the vegetables are good and plenty. So I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons and cook them to my advantage. Conclusion: it’s not difficult to make up a tasty snack, or even the basis for a meal. Pictures and discussion after the break.
The general idea is to saute up vegetables in the right order so that they’re all approximately cooked to the correct “doneness”. Onions are a must and they go in the pan first. Tomatoes add acid and help deglaze the pan - they go near the end.
Get everything prepped first. When I cut up tomatoes, I make extras - they’re a utility ingredient and I use them in so many different ways. Typically I store them with salt (Ruhlman instilled in me the value of salting tomatoes) and sometimes a nice olive oil. And this time of year the heritage tomatoes are really super.
Stillman’s Farm Tomatoes
Garlic Scapes are readily available and although they were billed on one sign as being able to be used anywhere garlic can be used, they’re probably a little closer to scallions than garlic. But they do add a nice flavor to a saute. I put a whole bunch in my recipe this time. While Googling around for Garlic Scapes I found a Serious Eats article about 10 uses for them. Note to self: I need to try the pesto recipe in that article and blog about Pesto in general.
Wright Locke Farm Garlic Scapes
Zucchini, squash, and eggplant are all plentiful so why not use them too? In fact, they’re the basis of this whole saute thing. The eggplant can soak up a lot of olive oil (which of course adds that must-have fat flavor to the saute) so after I dice them I salt and give them some olive oil before putting them in the pan.
Chinese Eggplant, Zuchini, Garlic Scapes (Wright Locke Farm), Squash (Blue Heron Farm)
Saute the onions for a couple of minutes in some olive oil and salt. You know, the usual “until translucent”. Throw in the eggplant since it will need to cook the longest. Get it a little brown if you like. After a few minutes when the eggplant is starting to loosen up a little (but not fully cooked), add the squash, then the zucchini and finally the garlic scapes. Be sure to taste and season along the way. Deglaze with a little wine (white, vermouth, sherry, maybe even red, whatever you like), let the wine reduce. Tomatoes go in last and maybe even a little tomato paste to give it that extra tomato punch and thicken up the liquid a little bit. Sometimes I add a little Liquid Smoke.
This time, as a little twist I added the third essential element of “Sugar, Salt, Fat”: a tablespoon of Benito’s Chipotle Infused Maple Syrup. Not enough to add a sugary taste and not enough to add any heat, but enough to give that subtle sweet taste.
Presto. Ready for action.