Do yourself a favor and go buy yourself a squash. Any variety. Roast it until soft and then some, cut side down in plenty of butter so it gets all caramelly. Wait til it cools, a bit anyway, then eat it.
I have made a personal goal to get tired of squash this season. I foresee eating squash almost every day. Those of you who are thinking this will not be difficult don’t know how much I like squash. We shall see.
However, this post is not about squash. This post is about making do with what you have and enjoying it tremendously.
My summer CSA concluded last week. Fear not, I have signed up for a winter share as well. Sad as this may be, I was gone over the weekend and so I ended up having a bunch of extra veggies that needing using up even more than usual, namely some arugula and mesclun that was beginning to turn yellow. The worst. I also had some tomatoes from a co-worker’s garden a long while ago that she picked green, and they finally became ripe on my countertop, and were even starting to get a little wrinkly. Read: required roasting.
The other part of this story is that I made soup yesterday (veggies + lentils; good but nothing exciting) and what it really needed was some cheese biscuits, and fortuitously I also had some cheese that needed to be eaten. So, cheese biscuits it was. But I didn’t want the soup for dinner again tonight because I had it for lunch, so I plan to enjoy it with biscuits tomorrow at work lunch again, toasting the biscuits in the toaster oven.
That still left dinner tonight. Arugula + cheese biscuits + roasted tomatoes? Sure, why not? Throw on a little mustard-apple cider vinegar vinaigrette and you are good to go.
It turned into almost a fancy, vegetarian BLT. Except that it feels a little insulting to call it that, like you substituted bacon and let’s face it, substitutes for bacon are just not as good as the real thing. This particular sandwich (to use the term lightly) was in no need whatsoever of bacon. The cheese in the biscuits left enough salty crispness, the arugula and the mustard provided a nice sharp note, and the tomatoes were sweet and flavorful.
Thinking about it later, I realized that some of my most satisfying meals, and culinary adventures, have been figuring out what to do with ingredients on hand, rather than planning ahead of time. Not that all of those always work out either, I think I’m conflating ideas that really are entirely independent. But it’s a nice thought anyway.
Really, I just want that to be true because it meshes with the idea of letting something else (i.e. the land/soil, which translates to your CSA box) dictate what you eat. I was reminded of this notion again today while catching up on the latest (and second ever) episode of Gastropod, a new podcast about the history and science of food (= win). The short of it is that ecosystems produce more than a single product, and a good chef will learn how to use all the pieces of that ecosystem in a cuisine. Not exactly relevant to what I was doing today, but something to aspire to, anyway. I do pretty well—butter, yogurt, flour, cheese (not this time but often) can all be local ingredients.
Cheese biscuits 8 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces and chilled/frozen 2 1/2 cups flour (including 1 cup whole wheat if you want) 1 Tbsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1/3 cup cheese (I used Jarlsburg; cheddar works well) 1 1/8 cups yogurt or buttermilk (I had to thin my yogurt with a little milk)
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Mix together the dry ingredients. Add butter and cheese and squish the butter around briefly with your fingers so there aren’t any huge pieces (nothing larger than a pea is the general rule, although you could go a little bigger for this). You can also do this in a food processor, if you have one. Add the yogurt and mix until dough forms together. You can knead it BRIEFLY (i.e. as little as possible) to catch in the excess flour if need be.
Pat into about 3/4 inch thick round. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter or other round object of an appropriate size (I used a wine glass). You can make whatever size you want. Arrange on a baking sheet, with room to expand, and bake for around 20 minutes, until crisp and golden. (My oven started smoking at this point. I’m not sure if it was due to the biscuits or the tomatoes or something else, but always a little unsettling.) Remove from baking sheet and onto a cooling rack/into your stomach. Eat the first one with a little extra butter (if you feel like being excessive, in a good way. I love butter) or some honey or just hot and steaming without accoutrement.
You don’t need a recipe for roasted tomatoes or mustard vinaigrette do you? Well, fine: roast the tomatoes. (Done.) For the vinaigrette, spoon out some mustard into your salad bowl, sprinkle on a little vinegar, mix, then add a little olive oil. (Done.)
Put them all together (or not! This is excellent deconstructed. And has the benefit of not making the biscuits soggy) and mangez-vous.
(I also roasted a gorgeous purple cauliflower I picked up on the way home because I haven’t had cauliflower ALL SUMMER and it’s amazing and fantastic roasted with a little oil and salt. And garlic, which I forgot this time around but won’t again. Before and after roasting pics below.)
On an unrelated note, I used to think life was about being happy but I came across this article from the Atlantic the other day and I’m not so sure that’s true. Do you have meaning in your life? Are you happy?