Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Harvest Time: How Creative Are You, Really?

Harvest time comes late to the subtropics.  We're in the middle of squash, herb, and pepper season. Oh, and string beans. But I'm sick to death of string beans.

So many squash! Such great prices! But I only know two ways of cooking zucchini and yellow squash: I saute' them with butter and a little garlic salt, or grate them for Greek zucchini pancakes or sweet and spicy zucchini bread. Was that three ways? Never mind. Two weeks into zucchini season I was bored to bits with them. But the price was so low, I kept buying out of a false sense of economy. Plus, I had bowls full of herbs from the garden and I was all tinctured out (see previous posts).
Iconic Photo of Garden Herbs, MR
I was getting desperate and so was my bursting-at-the-seams refrigerator, so I emailed my wonderful friend from Italy who shall be referred to as "Chef Riccardo". You can give Chef Riccardo three random ingredients, and I mean any three, and he'll come up with a masterpiece. You can have nothing to eat but rutabagas, molasses, and old grapefruit rinds, and he'll come up with something so scrumptious your friends pay you for the recipe....

Rutabagas (Wikimedia)
So I sent him the list of what was in my fridge, and begged him for a recipe. He started riffing on the Sicilian dish peperonata. He got creative with it..., and then I got creative with it. The result was not particularly traditional, but exceptionally delicious.
Peperonata Variation, Halfway There....
Lots of zucchini and yellow summer squash, lots of Vidalia onions (nice and sweet). Small red potatoes, and instead of bell peppers (allergic!) I added some very piquant fresh Florida chilis from a garden down the street (yes, I asked the gardener first). I stir-fried them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then added a coarse puree of basil (Italian and Thai). Fantastic! I would show a photo of the finished (and very spicy) dish, but by the time I had my camera set, the food had been dished out by eager friends and family, and it was already in their mouths! How rude.... But you get the idea.

So a big hug and Thank You to my delightfully creative friend Chef R, an admonition to my friends and family to curb their enthusiasm until I take a picture, and my hope that you'll find ways to be equally creative with your garden harvests this season.


  1. It's great to be able to play with a few ingredients, and come up with new things. Bravo to you and Chef Riccardo!

  2. Thank you, Istvan- happy cooking and happy gardening!