Be prepared for a slew of posts – it’s fall, and I’m in Walla Walla. Which means several things:
1. The farmer’s market harvest is. Absolutely. In. Sane. A foodie’s paradise, really. Every fruit or vegetable you yearn for in it’s peak of freshness in the winter, it’s here.
2. I’m starting my last year of college, which means I’ll be going ballistic with musical information. Classes, recitals, my senior thesis, research, and just the overall proximity to the music library means that my social life goes out the door and I (willingly) move into the 17th-20th centuries for a few months.
3. My roommates and I have cancelled cable. Without Bravo and the Food Network, I’m all yours.
4. The natural beauty of Indian Summer and fall here is unbelievable. Inspiration!!
I’ve already got several ideas for recipes and musical counterparts – earl gray brownies and Debussy, for one, but I can’t post that yet because while I’m sure the recipe I’ve developed would work fabulously, I haven’t had the opportunity to try it. It’s between 90 and 100 here every day and I have no air conditioning. So the last thing I’m going to do is toil away in my tiny kitchen with a 400 degree oven in the background. No thanks.
Which leads to the theme of this post – delicious food you don’t have to cook!!
Yesterday I enjoyed a lovely morning to myself going to the farmers market and picking up whatever looked good, and brainstorming all day how I might utilize these fresh flavors. Outside, it was warm, but cloudy and misty; I had Dvorak’s American String quartet playing on my ipod, which is astoundingly congruent with a misty Walla Walla morning. I picked up some kohlrabi, which I need to think a little bit more about; some beautiful baby eggplant, hoards of summer squash, nectarines, pears, arugula (when arugula is in season, there is a level of bliss in my life that has no parallel), cucumbers, and a beautiful melon. Not to mention a loaf of peasant bread that has finally matched the richness of bread in northern Europe.
Because I just got back and have therefore an empty pantry, I had to go to the regular grocery store, which, when you’re new and developing a budget (and have limited funds at that), can prove rather trying. How am I going to live my lifestyle and not completely break the bank? So I decided that, with this beautiful produce plus a little expensive cheese, good olive oil, sea salt, organic eggs, and roasted chicken, you can go a long way.
This is how I used my bounty last night – a very simple preparation. I was really excited about using raw summer squash – I don’t think people give it enough credit, it has a creamy, sweet texture that takes well to good salt.
Fresh harvest salad
(Serves 1 – easily doubled!)
½ large summer squash
Handful of arugula
1 oz. good quality blue cheese
Hawaiian sea salt (or any good coarse salt)
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
Julienne the cucmber and the squash, or dice finely if you are challenged like I am. Slice the nectarine in generous chunks. Toss together and generously sprinkle with sea salt and olive oil, then splash some balsamic vinegar on top. Crumble the blue cheese over the salad.
Serve with jambon cru, a little sliced prosciutto, or roasted chicken.
And for your next farmer’s market trip – listen to this! Dvorak string quartet in F major (American). Rhythmic and folky, accessible, but pleasurable and interesting.