Friday, July 14, 2006

A meal fresh from someone's garden....

... even if not my own!

Tonight's meal inspiration began with Susan's (chef in the Fatfree Vegan Kitchen) recipe for Patty Pan Squash Stuffed with Cajun White Beans. She posted her creation several days ago, and when I saw pattypan squash at the Union Square Farmer's Market today, I knew our dinner was determined.

While still at the Farmer's Market I saw fresh green beans, small heirloom tomatoes and corn. And dinner was done. I was instantly convinced that a simple meal prepared with these fresh ingredients would fit the bill for our Friday dinner. M. tends to work pretty late during the week, but Friday is a night he can often make it home for a late (8:00 or in tonight's case 9:00pm) dinner. Accordingly, I try to make something a bit more special to usher the weekend in.

Having finished at the Farmer's Market, I then proceeded to one of my new favorite grocery stores. It was a definite trip carrying the produce and the three Barnes and Noble books that somehow found their way to me during my perusal of the Barnes and Noble at Union Square. But, Trader Joe's is worth it. It just opened in March, and already I'm in love! Poor Whole Foods (just down the street even) got kicked to the curb! Anyways, at Trader Joe's I found what turned out to be a key ingredient to tonight's supper. Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar, pictured on the left and featured heavily in tonight's green bean preparation and fresh corn preparation. Its tangy sweetness complemented the veggies nicely, and I look forward to finding new ways to use my new pantry staple.

Our lovely dinner in its entirety.
As always, clicking on the picture will blow it up, and reveal our amateur photographic skills!

Here is Susan's original recipe. Because I'm lazy as its somewhat late, I just entered it as (meaning I copied it from her blog) is but I want all credit to go to her as it was a tasty recipe, and one I will repeat. But, I actually made some changes which I will describe here. First of all, I omitted the celery and green pepper because I didn't have any and I wasn't going out again after lugging home two TJ bags, all my produce and three Barnes and Nobles books. So, no celery and pepper for us. I adapted the herbs somewhat (mostly because our fridge is bursting with a multitude of herbs right now). I used fresh sage (about 7 leaves cut in a chiffonade), fresh thyme (about 4 stems with approximately 5 fronds per stem), herbs de Provence (about 1/2 a teaspoon), crushed red pepper (a dash) and I added 1/4 cup whole wheat panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and a few microplane grates of parmesan cheese. But other than that, I made her recipe in its entirety! :) Oh, and I used cannellini beans. As I said above, I will repeat this but I do think it is a forgiving recipe that will accommodate "what's on hand" and remain delicious.

Patty Pan Squash Stuffed with Cajun White Beans

4 medium-sized patty pan squash
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
1/2 bell pepper, chopped fine
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. fennel seed
1/4 tsp. rubbed sage
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1 can (15 ounces) great northern beans (or other white beans), rinsed and drained

Place the squash flat side down in a large pot. Add about 1 inch of water, cover, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 8 minutes, until a fork easily pierces the top of the squash. Remove from the pot and set aside to cool.

When cool enough to handle, slice off the top of the squash and use a melon baller to scoop out the flesh from the inside. Be sure to leave a wall of at least 1/4-inch of flesh on all sides of the squash. Turn them upside down to drain, and dice the scooped out flesh coarsely.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Sauté the onions, celery and bell pepper in a large, non-stick skillet for about 5 minutes until soft; add garlic, diced squash, and remaining seasonings and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the white beans and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes.

Place the squash in an 8x8-inch baking pan. Spoon the stuffing into each shell; be sure to really pack it into the shell, and don't be afraid to over-stuff them. Pile any stuffing that remains into the center of the baking pan, right between the squash.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops begin to brown. Serve with additional stuffing. Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish

The other components of our dinner remained pretty simple. For the green beans, I cut off the ends and sauteed them in a splash of my new champagne vinegar, a splash of vegetable broth, two garlic cloves minced, salt and pepper and a dash of lemon flavored olive oil (to taste - I didn't use very much but others might prefer more). This created a nice little sauce which I then reduced until the green beans were nicely glazed.

The heirloom tomato salad with perlini was an adaptation of everyone's favorite - the caprese salad. I quartered the mini-heirlooms, tossed with basil chiffonade, salt and pepper. I then strained a spoonful of perlini (mini-bocconcini or fresh mozzarella balls - also obtained at Trader Joe's) and added a splash of olive oil and a splash of basalmic vinegar. I stirred, and left the salad to sit for a few minutes so that the flavors would meld.

And the corn, I cooked the corn for about three minutes in boiling water. I used my corn zipper and unzipped the kernels, added salt and pepper and my new vinegar to taste (about a tablespoon) and left to marinade until I served it.

And that was our dinner, and M. was very pleased. Wouldn't you have liked to join us?

Technorati Tags: , , ,


Tanna said...

Ha, I clicked on your picture - it just made me want to eat it more. Beautiful picture, looks wonderful. Wish I'd been at the table.

crystal said...

What a beautiful dinner!

SusanV said...

Your photos are gorgeous--and I need to get myself some of that vinegar. Sounds wonderful!