The days are getting shorter and the nights colder, but my garden still keeps chugging along with a final flurry of tomatoes and beans. Keeping up with them all has been the real challenge right now, and coming up with different and exciting ways to use them beyond endless tomato salads and pasta sauces.
One night I tried a recipe from Gourmet magazine for Grilled halibut with Indian spices. This caught my eye as I have some mint that’s been growing like crazy in my herb garden and I liked the idea of the mint and tomato salad, as a different taste to the usual basil and tomato combination. I loved the flavor of the fish and the salad; next time I might just tone down on the spiciness of the yogurt sauce (not shown in my photo), which was even a bit much for my “hot” tastes.
Jamie’s Dinners: The Essential Family Cookbook is a cookbook I recently picked up at a local used bookstore, and the first recipe within that caught my eye was for Pan-baked sea bass with crispy roasted asparagus bundles wrapped in bacon. Bacon? I’ve got no shortage of that with all of the pork in my freezer from my mother’s farm. The asparagus bundles called for two varieties of beans, perfect for me to use up some of the mixed varieties of Italian bush beans from my garden. This was tasty and really quite simple to put together, although next time I’m going to use a larger roasting pan to make sure everything gets a nice crispy finish. I also felt it did not need nearly the amount of butter called for to finish the plate, but then again I was using some very fatty bacon that gave more than enough flavor and moisture to the meal.
Yesterday I was really craving some baked, cheesy pasta – but something a little more elegant than old fashioned “mac ‘n cheese”. I had a lot of wonderful cheese in my fridge to use up so I immediately thought of the four-cheese Pasta al forno from my favorite pasta cookbook, Pasta: Every Way for Every Day. The recipe called for mozzarella, Parmesan, fontina and gruyere, but I substituted cotija and emmental for the fontina and gruyere, since that’s what I had on hand! The main thing, I’ve found, is to use a mixed of creamy and dry cheese to get the best final result – and this combination hit it out of the ball park. To dress it up (and use up more of those tomatoes), I added halved yellow pears from my garden, along with a sliced sweet Italian pepper. This made it more colorful and tasty – in fact, this is a dish I’m bookmarking to make for my holiday party this year.
I’ve still got a large bowl full of yellow pears and oxheart reds to do something with this week, and perhaps one last harvest before the frost hits. So, I’m sure there will be some more recipe experiments to come while enjoying these October days, and their stunning sunsets.