Throughout the year I create variations on tonight’s menu, something I call a “tuna noodle toss.” It always includes tuna and pasta but those are the only “rules.” Sometimes I use fresh grilled tuna, sometimes good-quality canned; often the pasta is dried, and on other occasions (such as tonight), it’s freshly-made. This is another one of those meals where I simply pull out the ingredients I have on hand and start to think about combinations of flavors that might work well together: tiny French green beans…tomatoes…peppers. After the pasta is made, which can be done in advance, this is easy and quick to pull together. It’s almost like a warm or room temperature pasta salad and to my mind is a one-dish meal.
Yesterday I made a blueberry-lemon pound cake which turned out quite well, so that will be dessert.
Grilled onions and peppers, tossed with tuna, blanched haricots verts, chopped fresh tomatoes, housemade dill tagliatelle, and lemon vinaigrette
Blueberry-lemon pound cake with vanilla ice cream
In those menus where “vegetable plate” is included in the title, it’s pretty much just that–a plate of vegetables. But it is anything but haphazard in design. I strive to achieve an interesting balance of tastes and textures on the plate that appeals from a gustatory as well as visual perspective. And I like to try new and interesting combinations.
The highlight of tonight’s menu is a bean and tomato dish that I created simply because I thought the flavors would be nice together. And they were! A few thin slices of onion and a peeled and chopped yellow tomato went into a skillet with a bit of olive oil and stewed together over low heat until the tomatoes were saucy but still chunky. Meanwhile, sliced Romano beans were blanched briefly in boiling water until just crisp tender. At that point the beans are drained and added to the skillet with the tomato mixture and everything is heated together for just a minute or two before serving. A bit of sea salt and a grinding of fresh pepper was all that was needed to finish the dish. Superb if I do say so myself!
July 24th Vegetable Plate
Oven-roasted new potatoes split and topped with a dollop of sour cream
Romano beans and tomatoes Chez Edouard
Fried okra breaded with Southwestern-spiced cornmeal
Peach and blueberry cobbler with whipped cream
What would summer be without one (or two or three) burger menus? And there’s nothing new here in terms of the individual components. What IS different is in how each is prepared. Tonight’s burger is made of turkey seasoned with minced garlic, topped with pepperjack cheese, garden tomatoes, grilled onions, and served on a housemade yeast roll. The potato salad features the addition of chopped bread and butter pickles benefitting from the pickled flavor not only of the cucumbers but the onions and peppers also. Corn on the cob is steamed in a rack over simmering water just until hot and served with chili butter. So with just a few twists in how each item is prepared, you end up with something a bit different than the traditional.
A note about the corn. A quick steaming is one of my favorite ways to prepare corn on the cob. It prevents the natural sugars in the corn from being leached into a boiling liquid, and the kernels remain full of flavor and juice.
If you plan a bit ahead, the dessert is simple. Place the frozen peaches in a blender with some milk, cream, sugar, and a few drops of vanilla, process until smooth, and voila! No need to make ice cream.
Grilled turkey burger with toppings on housemade rolls
Potato salad Chez Edouard
Steamed corn on the cob
Peach milkshake with sugar cookies
Fresh okra was available at the farmers’ market this weekend and I bought a sizable amount to enjoy. In the south this vegetable is often enjoyed breaded or battered and deep-fried. And I do like it served that way which provides textural interest to a summer mixed vegetable plate. But another well-loved dish that comes to mind is the Louisiana favorite–gumbo. Most gumbo recipes include some sort of meat protein and certainly do not need to include okra. What does seem consistent however, is that those that include okra usually omit the traditional flour paste roux. Okra has a thickening property that produces a similar result to that of the roux. My vegetarian version celebrates the bounty of midsummer.
For dessert, a peach pie that’s a bit different. The bottom crust is made of traditional pie dough, but the top is covered with crisp topping including ground pecans, brown sugar, flour, and butter.
Vegetable gumbo of onions, spicy peppers, celery, tomatoes, corn, summer squash, okra, and black-eyed peas with Cajun seasonings served over rice
Garden lettuce salad
Peach pie with crisp topping served with whipped cream
The highlight of tonight’s menu is a recipe I devised based on a couple of others. Beautiful corn, green beans, and cherry tomatoes were available at the farmers’ market, and I was inspired to create a chilled salad as an accompaniment to the grilled fish. It’s simple and relatively quick, and must be made in advance. The dressing for the salad has no oil–it’s simply rice vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of salt with some minced red onion. A chiffonade of basil is tossed in just before serving. Light, refreshing, delicious, attractive. The vegetarians among us may be tempted to feast on the salad alone!
Pan-grilled Atlantic cod basted with barbeque sauce
Chilled corn-green bean-cherry tomato salad
Boiled new potatoes
Yeast roll Chez Edouard