I apologize for the hiatus. I was down and out with a pretty rough illness for about six weeks and then had a lot to catch up on at home and at work. I missed most of fall, which is my favorite season, and am now trying to adjust to the cold. I will post later this week.
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Last year Slow Food Knoxville started an annual celebration of Italian cuisine and local ingredients. The first Pesto Festo was held at Green Man Farm in Washburn, Tennessee, but this year their neighbors at Joppa Ridge Farm hosted the zero-waste event. Ken and Donna Mitchell planted Chardonnay grape vines, berry patches, and a vegetable garden for what will become a winery and working farm.
Folks lingered over each course as they clinked wine glasses, admired the breathtaking view, and listened to Knoxville klezmer band Tennesse Schmaltz, violinist Al Colombo, and Gene Bush on guitar. The weather was perfect, and the Mitchells led hay rides over their land while kids learned to play bocce ball. I ran food, trying not to nip bits from the serving dishes, and then finally settled in to enjoy the sumptuous meal as the sun slipped behind the mountains. Afterwards, while everyone else piled onto the back of a truck for hay rides back down the long, winding hill to the cars, I chose to walk, relishing the peaceful night, the music of crickets and cicadas, and the breeze against my bare legs.
Pesto Festo Menu
Tennessee jardinierre: homegrown pickled vegetables
Bagna cauda: “hot bath” of heirloom garlic, olive oil, and anchovies
Ciabatta bread with pesto dipping oil
Panzanella: Tuscan heirloom tomato and bread salad
Peperoni e melanzane: roasted peppers and eggplant
Fagiolini all’olio: green beans with lemon, garlic, and tomatoes
Farfalle with Tomato Head pesto
Grilled free-range chicken saltimbocca stuffed with prosciutto and sage
Grass-fed lamb and pork Italian sausages
Magpies Bakery tiramisu and spumoni cupcakes
Wild blackberry compote with regina-sesame biscotti
Counter Culture coffee from Old City Java
Posted in gardening, herbs, recipes, uncategorized, wild things, tagged cucumber salad, eggplant creme, eggplant pasta, herb bean dip, herbed white-bean dip, hungarian cucumber salad, hungarian cucumbers, white bean dip, white bean hummus on August 18, 2009 | 1 Comment »
But first look at this massive squash plant that has been growing out of the compost and nearly took over a holly tree while we were gone. It looks like some kind of mini pumpkin. Can you see how big it is? It runs all the way from the corner behind the potting shed to the tree. And it’s wound around itself in there, so if I stretched it out all the way, it might just go clear across the yard.
Okay. A couple of days after returning from NYC, I woke up with this massive urge to spend the day cooking. I guess it was because I had just spent an entire week eating out. I craved a home-cooked meal, and I needed to dig my fingers into some fresh ingredients. The fact that it was 85 degrees in the house didn’t stop me.
While waiting for white beans to soak for a dip, I made Hungarian cucumber salad with the five cucumbers that had actually survived my week away. This isn’t full of sour cream as the name might suggest; it’s a light, crunchy vinegar-based salad: thinly sliced cucumbers, white wine vinegar, minced garlic, dash of agave nectar to sweeten, salt, black pepper, and Hungarian paprika. You can also add thinly sliced onions.
Next on the agenda was an herbed white-bean dip that’s very close to hummus: cannellini beans, tahini, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs. In this case, I used rosemary, sage, and Greek oregano, all from the garden. All week I spread this on jalapeno-cilantro tortillas topped with yellow cherry tomatoes, sunflower sprouts, and fresh basil for a satisfying, summery wrap.
Finally, I got to the one dish I had been thinking about since we got back. I am in love with VeganYumYum’s eggplant creme. I made it several times last summer and couldn’t wait to break it out again once I saw the plump, purple veggies at the market. Her recipe is for miniature Napoleons, but I make just the creme and stir it into whole-wheat spaghetti. This time I topped it with diced tomatoes and two kinds of basil, sweet and purple, and served it alongside steamed green beans from the garden. The best of summer flavors.
I also made cheese, but I’m saving that for another post. By the time Cap came home, I was a sweaty mess, but the fridge was full of goodies.