Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summertime Menu: The Three Sisters Get a Makeover

Much has been made of the classic North American vegetarian combo, corn, beans and squash. They like to grow together, and when eaten together, are nutritionally balanced. Our meal tonight included all of them, but not in a traditional early North American way. But wow, was it satisfying.

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Goat Cheese
Salad of White Beans and Chard
Steamed Corn on the Cob
Fresh sliced Purple Kohlrabi

Our kids also enjoyed the meal; although mostly, they were both excited to see corn on the cob, which we haven't had in a while, and then disappointed that it wasn't the usual bicolour variety from the grocery store. A friend has started an organic farm garden (check out Barefoot Earth Farm and Co-op on Facebook), and she delivered some heritage corn to us this week. It was tasty, but smaller and chewier than normal, which left D muttering to himself, "I don't want it to be chewy." I liked it.

I'd like to share both salad recipes, as they are absolute keepers, particularly at the height of vegetable season.

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Goat Cheese

I learned today that it is less the exact ingredients of this salad and more the way it is made that make it so amazing. The original recipe, serving six people (very generously) called for a long list of vegetables: zucchini, two colours of peppers, eggplant, onion, asparagus and cherry tomatoes. Chop them into large chunks, then marinate them in a Dijon vinaigrette (6 T. red wine vinegar, 4 T. olive oil, 1 T. Dijon mustard, 1 T. chopped fresh oregano and salt and pepper to taste) for a half hour. Grill or roast them until done to your liking and then toss the hot vegetables with a generous amount of chevre (10 oz).

Well, today, I made do with the vegetables I had, using some yellow zucchini, a red pepper, half a large onion, one lonely tomato and a large handful of white mushrooms. The finished product was still amazing. My husband's response, with full mouth, was to point at the salad in the bowl: "This: super-awesome."

So pull whatever you have out of the fridge or garden. Toss it with vinaigrette, cook it, and toss it with goat cheese. It isn't all that pretty, since it just turns into a creamy mess. But the flavour. You will never look at an overabundance of zucchini the same way again.

Salad of White Beans and Greens

There are many takes on white beans and greens—pasta, casseroles, soups—but this one is one of my favourites. I can't find the original recipe anywhere, although I know I found it online about 10 years ago. If someone recognizes it as their own, please accept my thanks and due diligence.

1/2 lb. dried white beans (I used navy beans)
1 1/2 lb. Swiss chard
1 onion
1 T. vinegar
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 c. black olives
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. fresh parsley
1 T. olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/4 t. salt and pepper

Soak the beans overnight. Cook for an hour (or do what I did: soak overnight, turn on the heat and forget about them until the liquid boils off and they are hopelessly ruined and the pot requires intensive scrubbing. Then get some more dry white beans, skip the soaking part and cook for two hours, or until tender). Finely chop the stems and leaves of the chard and steam just until tender.

Combine onions, vinegar and sugar. Cover and bring to a boil, and then immediately remove from heat and let stand, covered, for a few minutes.

Combine all ingredients. Serve at room temperature.

This recipe serves 10 people. I often half it.

With dishes like this, I could almost get used to the idea of being vegetarian. Almost, but not quite.

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