Monday, September 6, 2010

Summer bounty and what to do with it all.

For some reason, blogger is acting weird, and I can't comment on my own blog.  Then again, I don't know if anyone else can either.  They've implemented some new "anti spam" filter which I am guessing may be part of the problem, I don't know.  If they don't fix it in the next couple of weeks I may go back to Wordpress.  Just a heads up.

I joined a local CSA, and each week I get a boatload of fresh produce, in addition to a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs.  I sort of have the egg thing under control - I've rediscovered hard boiled eggs, and I am baking more (which makes hubby and son happy).  The produce I sometimes get behind on - I had a yellow squash, an eggplant, and a plethora of tomatoes, in addition to a small heirloom pepper.  Not enough to *make* anything individually with, but combined they could contribute to a delish summer pasta sauce!

(Sorry for the paucity of pix - but veggies are veggies!)

So...I chopped up about 4 cloves of garlic and an onion, and diced the pepper and threw it in a pan with some olive oil.  I cooked it til it was transparent.  I cubed up the small eggplant, threw that in there along with the zucchini that I sliced in half lengthwise, then cut thinly.  I mixed all this up until the eggplant was turning golden.  I then threw in a few chopped tomatoes, some fresh basil, rosemary, and marjoram that I snipped from my herb garden, some S&P to taste, and a jar of my favorite marinara sauce (actually, it's a can, and you get it from Trader Joe's)

and a couple teaspoons of sugar to cut the acidity in the sauce.  I let that simmer a bit, then a few minutes before serving, I threw in half a cup of 1/2 and 1/2, and a handful or so of parmesean cheese.  YUM!

My point is - this sauce has endless possibilities.  This is where you get creative fits of genius - where your family looks at you and goes "wow...this is good!" and you really didn't follow a recipe at all.  Just to give you some ideas:

  1. Omit the half and half.
  2. Throw in half a cup of red wine instead.
  3. Saute some italian sausage in the pan, remove, then add the onions, garlic, etc. to make it a meat sauce (can use ground pork or beef as well, or any other meat)
  4. Add mushrooms.
  5. Add peas. catching my drift?  Put anything you want in this "foundation" of onions, garlic, olive oil, and marinara sauce, and I guarantee you, it will taste good.  You don't have basil? Add oregano.  You don't like rosemary? don't put it in.  What's marjoram? you say? Then add thyme instead.  You LOVE basil? Just use that!  Don't be afraid to try something different, or let your imagination go wild.  You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.  It's kind of hard to mess up a red sauce!

Hopefully, your family loved it, now you are stuck with a potful of sauce and "leftovers" - I don't know about you, but getting my family to eat leftovers is like pulling teeth.  I recently discovered that I have to fool them into thinking that they are eating something new.  So...some ideas to makeover the leftovers :)

  1. Layer with lasagna noodles, some ricotta (which you've added parm cheese and an egg and some parsley to) and mozzarella and make lasagna.
  2. Make grilled cheese with it. omg this is nirvana with a slice of fresh mozzarella.  Seriously.
  3. Add meatballs and make a "stew" serve with salad and crusty bread.
  4. Add broth (chicken or beef, or vegetable, doesn't matter) thin to desired consistency and voila! SOUP! :)
 OK...I made a grilled cheese with the leftover sauce.  The sauce is thick and chunky, so it was easy to slather on a nice piece of bread again, no Wonder Bread crap need something with substance that can support the veggies.  I then added a few slices of fresh mozzarella cheese (the kind you buy in a ball) then grilled it in a pan.  It was a huge hit.  My son who "hates eggplant" and "doesn't like fresh mozzarella" inhaled it.  When told it had two ingredients he "eschewed" (blog joke here, sorry LOL) - he was amazed.  Hubby loved it, daughter loved it, I loved it - it was unanaimous.  Yum OH!

It might be helpful here to insert the fact that I beat up an egg with a bit of milk, and dunked the outside of the sandwich in it before I put it in the pan...sort of like a Monte Cristo, but without soaking the bread.

I've always eaten fresh mozzarella in a Caprese salad - you know, with fresh tomatoes and a drizzle of vinaigrette.  I realized when you cook it, it gets chewy, stringy, and even yummier than the shredded stuff you buy in the bag.  I am now hooked, and I don't know if I will ever buy bagged mozzarella again. :)  Yeah, it looks a bit weird when it melts, but omg the taste!

So...when you cook this grilled cheese - do it at a slightly lower heat so that the veggies in the sauce get heated up, and the cheese gets melted.  It may take a bit longer, but it's worth the wait!


  1. i LOVE the leftover ideas. so smart, you are!
    and that grilled cheese looks sooooo yummy. come to texas and cook for me please :(

  2. LOL If I came to TX to cook for you, I'm not sure Owen could survive :-)