At some point, it snuck up on me that I didn’t have enough beefsteak (tofu steak, AM I RIGHT?!) tomatoes ripening in my garden at once to make fresh sauce every few days, and that is how it first crept into my senses that summer was over. I took the green beans down, for goodness sake – after sautéeing, roasting, dry-frying, pickling, freezing and even dehydrating what seemed like a never-ending bounty. I mean, I even made something I’m referring to as green bean jerky.
So, times goes on, and we move ahead to golden autumn leaves and roasted squash purées as the season changes. There are fried green tomatoes coming up on my dinner menu (the upside of breaking down tomato plants, sniff sniff), and three petite delicatas awaiting the spotlight in my fruit basket.
With one last September visit just behind me, I wanted to share my farmers market haul from this past weekend, and the culinary brainstorming (uh, ™, JK) that’s been unfolding since I hopped off my bike, – brief and sudden rainfall be darned – to see what’s what at my favorite market. For the record, I was not wearing any plaid, just yet.
Here’s what’s what, along with some crimson figs I foraged* from a ripening tree on my way home:
1 big bunch of parsley
2 bunches of pak choi
3 hot chili peppers
1 bunch of fresh dill
3 precious bulbs of garlic
3 petite delicata squashes
What’s in store…
Immediately, I regret I didn’t pick up two more of those enormous and glorious bunches of parsley. I have a wee bit growing in our community garden plot, but certainly not enough to make all the parsley-basil pesto I’m getting all starry-eyed thinking about. On top of freezing sheets of pesto, I had a rather positive experiment dehydrating a batch of pesto to mail to Alaska recently – true story – and I’ve been daydreaming about dried pesto breaded-tempeh and dusted popcorn. I know, I know, I could stick to a marinade or paste, but a girl can (and should!) dream. Long recipe story short, in terms of dehydrating, some serious hiking + cooking info on the internet recommended that I skip the oil, dairy and nuts, really making it a basil-garlic-water-lemon juice purée, and I do carry on the recommendation and method. Ditto THAT R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the straight-up batch of parsley-basil pistou I made before work yesterday.
For something fresher and since I’m definitely not on a trail, I minced a few stems’ worth (including the top + stems) to complete a round of garlic toasts and bruschetta the night before last. I’ll be doing similar with spaghetti and my summer-supplied sun-dried tomatoes surplus, soon enough.
Those gorgeous figs? Starred in a slightly dense, but lovely, fig upside-down spice cake that was quickly devoured at my coworking space. I won’t deny that my favorite part was the initial halving of the figs themselves, in all their glory. I was *almost* as impressed that wrapping them in plastic wrap on top of a paper towel-lined styrofoam tray left from a long-ago, forgot-the-tupperware, fresh, local tofu purchase kept them SO WELL in the fridge for two days. So, there’s hope for that bit of styrofoam you inexplicably have and can’t bring yourself to throw out? Well, no. But, the figs are nice. If you’ve ever attempted to store figs for more than a few hours before, I bet you know what I’m talking about, and why so many of my other figs collections have gone into liqueur or jam (nothing wrong with that).
The blue potatoes will be roasted for weekend, or weeknight, brunch plates, as I’ve had a hankering for tofu scramble tacos. Cue parsley, yet again. The garlic was irresistible, as it’s late in the season and whenever you can get your hands on honest-to-goodness local garlic, PLEASE DO. YOU SHOULD. Likewise for the chilis. I’m sure to buy way more in the coming weeks while I still can, fresh and dried, for anything and everything. I’m putting my foot down that I need one more batch of a roasted tomato arbol chili salsa before the month is through. Fun fact and new practice for 2018’s harvest: freeze a bag of whole cherry or roma-sized tomatoes, as-is, and use them this winter! I’ll see you there.
Now, the delicatas get me that much closer to a bowl of rich and creamy ramen (while not technically in that noted recipe that my practically-brother-in-law raves about “actually” being good for vegan ramen, I stand by my intentions, giving my take on that recipe he loves so much, and the flavors of autumn).
Moving on to the dill, I quickly hung up half to air-dry, because, what the hey, and the remaining fresh dill is totally for the aforementioned roasted potatoes and a round of tahini dill ranch, because I’ve been vibing on buffalo flavors as it gets cooler. It’s hard to resist pickling when I have a bunch of fresh dill, but I realistically can’t fit another jar in my fridge until a few more pickles plates are put together. Get on it, jess!
Onto the pak choi, let’s get right to the point – it was perfect, and that calls for a big ‘ol stir fry in the wok, especially as the two varieties of Thai basil still flourish in the garden (for now…..) That reminds me to make another batch of Miyoko’s unpork from The Homemade Vegan Pantry, ‘cause that stuff is ridiculously good.
Update: Since I drafted this two days ago, I have made unpork and pad mama with half of the pak choi, woohoo! It’s a really easy seitan method, for the record.
::cue whimsical theme music::
Tune in next week as jess obsesses over turnip greens, and her winter squash haul starts looking like a u-pick visit that somehow fits into a bike bag, rain or shine.
*Hi! My rule of thumb is if a neighborhood fruit tree is sharing with the ground a whole bunch, then I just may help myself to just a bit. For the love of figs! Apples! Pears! Plums! And the Portland Fruit Tree Project.
P.S. Speaking of cookbooks, check out our debut Vegan Cookbook Club on 10/26! We’re cooking + share from Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking, which is new to me, and therefore, even more of a reason to bring on the butternut squashes and relax at night with a cookbook on the couch.