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Tasting Menu of My Garden

09.10.09

I’ve been waiting to post about this for a few days. Last Friday, my friend Yen was over for a visit and to eat. I was lacking inspiration for an ingredient to tackle, and eventually settled on the seemingly-good-idea of prepping nothing, and only using my garden as the source of inspiration to play with and put together a menu around. It was a good idea. We wandered around my yard to collect some inspiration, and came up with the following:

Raven zucchini with flower wrapped in lardo, 2 presentations [top left photo as well]. The lardo by Oyama Sausage Co. was very herbed/spiced, and fried provided a pork-roast-tastic vibe to the veg – even sans the meat.
Cucumber & feta salad with mint & lime. It could handle a lot more lime than we thought. Very fresh, clean, and could become a go-to salad around here.
French fingerling potatoes fried in baby leeks. Man am I glad I have more of these in my garden. I’ve tried a few cultivars of potatoes this year from the garden, and this wins by quite the margin. Possibly best dish of the night.
Raven zuchini sautée with lardo bits, reggiano parmesan. This concept is a personal favorite go-to squash dish around here after having fallen in love with it here in Buonconvento, Italy.
Veg soup. Clearly beets were involved. The leeks provided a wonderful chassis, and I learned that I have been under-peppering my veg soup. It was a tad boring, until some white vinegar and touch of pepper came into play – which vastly improved our impressions of the dish.
Bush green beans, parboiled, butter + salt + pepper. A valid point was made. A shocking one. Perhaps too much butter – took away from the fresh, subtle bean mojo.
Warm rocket salad. Cool idea – didn’t work. The plants are mature and the cooking brought out the bitter – which would be fine if all the cressy peppery vibe wasn’t lost from cooking it. It was also simply overdone – my fault.
We had never done fried green tomatoes. My tomatoes weren’t ripe -what-are-ya-gonna-do? Yen was taken by the fresh green tomatoes – he figures would be great in salads. I was taken by the cooked version with lardo bits. Okay. So it was cooked in pork fat. How bad could it be. But I actually realy liked it a lot. Was up there with my favorite dishes of the night.

Tasty. Healthful. And vastly lacking in protein compared to the usual meat-fests. It made me wonder how I hadn’t done garden tasting menus before.

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