July 8, 2011
Vegetable Still Life and Balsamic Vinaigrette
I've started bringing home my weekly share of produce from the farm. It is still early in the season and at this time of year the bag of newly harvested vegetables is a treasure chest of fresh tastes. New squash! peas! chard! garlic scapes! hardly need a recipe to make a meal. A quick saute or a few minutes on the grill and they can land on your plate ready to eat. I might toss them with whole wheat pasta or pile them onto polenta or quinoa. It's lovely in summer, when the days are long but so very full, that cooking can be so effortless. The vegetables speak for themselves and need little attention or adornment.
Some crops, like peas, last for only a few weeks and there is no chance for them to grow old. As the season goes on, though, other vegetables will lose their shiny new quality and I will start using them in more creative or complex recipes. Zucchini will be hardly worth admiring, let alone capturing in a still life, but the farm fresh variety will still have the advantage over any vegetable shipped to the grocery store. There are so many recipes that I ignore in the winter because they are far far better when the ingredients are in season locally. I will get to work on these soon, but for now I want to keep it very simple.
One of my favorite treatments for summer vegetables is a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. I learned how to make it from my friend Sarah when we were living in a little farmhouse as apprentices at Shelburne Farms. We had a gas grill on our porch and would grill veggies almost every night. It is my favorite marinade for mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini and nearly any vegetable that I would grill. It also happens to be my go to salad dressing. Salads are the other easiest way to enjoy vegetables (and fruit) and I could and will eat salad with every meal.
I usually just pour in the ingredients in rough amounts, shake, and taste, but I've included a more specific recipe below. You can, of course, adjust to your taste.
Before I leave you to a weekend of grilling, salad making, or however you choose to enjoy your summer days, I wanted to mention that I have a guest post up on Small Measure. I was honored that the wonderful blogger and author, Ashley English, let me write a post of ideas for homesteading (home making, home growing) when you don't have land or an actual homestead. Big thanks to Ashley for letting me share my ideas!
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons mustard
2 teaspoons minced garlic
pinch of salt
Place all ingredients in a jar and shake until well combined. Store in the refrigerator and shake well before each use. For marinating vegetables: pour generously over sliced vegetables and let marinate for 15-30 minutes. The vinaigrette recipe is easily doubled when you need larger quantities. For salads, pour the desired amount on the salad or on individual servings.