A Mediterranean Harvest in Miramonte

sunflowerAs soon as we got home from Santa Fe, I ran up to the garden to see what would greet me when I pushed open the gate. Tomatoes! Eggplants! Melons! Peppers! We will be feasting for days.

My basket was overflowing, and I had to use my gardening hat to gather up some Blue Lake beans for supper. I simply steamed the green beans and tossed them with some Tuscan olive oil and a little sea salt.

But what was I to do with all these luscious eggplants and tomatoes?

First, I plunged the tomatoes into boiling water for about twenty seconds and then peeled them. At this point, I could have canned them (remember: always use a reliable canning guide every time you can or make preserves!), but I decided to make a simple tomato sauce instead. I poured two or three tablespoons of olive oil into a Dutch oven, added the tomatoes, and let them simmer for about an hour and a half. After they cooled a bit, I ran them through a food mill to get rid of the seeds.

Later that evening, I diced an onion and a couple of garlic cloves and sauteed them in olive oil. After they’d softened a bit, I added the tomato passato, as it’s called in Italy. I threw in a small pinch of red pepper flakes, some salt and fresh ground black pepper, and simmered the sauce until… well, until it was the thickness I desired. I added some basil chiffonade at the last minute. Didn’t want to lose any of its wonderful flavor or scent. If a Sophia Loren movie had an aroma, my kitchen would have smelled like it!

eggplants, sunflowers and tomatoesI tossed the sauce with some high quality dried pasta from Italy—no cheese on this. The fresh taste of the tomatoes and basil was too delicious to mask. Dave and I carried our bowls of steaming pasta out to the patio table where we lingered way past dark, looking for shooting stars.

The next night, I made a splendid eggplant parmesan. Yes, I DID dredge the eggplant slices in flour, egg and breadcrumbs before I deep fried them. (Sorry Dr. Oz) All the dish took after that was a thin layer of last night’s tomato sauce, some mozzerella, some reggiano parmesan, and fifteen minutes in a 350 degree oven. A glass of Barbera and some more shooting stars didn’t hurt.

Tonight, I’m turning to a now out-of-print cookbook called A Mediterranean Harvest by Paola Scaravelli for a wonderful vegetarian version of Moussaka. It will remind me of the months Dave and I lived in a whitewashed farmhouse on a Greek Island.

But really, I don’t know what’s gotten into me with all this complicated cooking. Maybe, in spite of the heat, I sense the beginning of fall. I was out in the pasture the other day—all ochre-colored and anise-scented with tarweed flowers— when I heard a great whooshing sound of wings. A flock of Canada geese was flying south. It seemed like a warning. This abundance won’t last and I’m making the most of it.

6 responses to “A Mediterranean Harvest in Miramonte”

  1. Let the tomato and eggplant ideas continue! Can’t wait to hear how the Moussaka turned out. These ideas may inspire me to actually pick my produce BEFORE it composts on the plant…

    • Hi Cindy, I know what you mean about trying to keep up with the produce! I’m about to go pick the last of the corn right now. (I’ll be freezing it tomorrow, I guess) Dave just hollered from his office that I’ve got a couple of zucchinis that have grown to the size of B-52s out there. How did they get away from me? Yes, the Moussaka was fantastic, and I’ll publish the recipe for all you produce-overwhelmed gardeners out there. Thanks for visiting. Jane

  2. You have so much energy cooking great sounding recipes all from your garden. I wish I could keep up with ours, but I’m such an awful cook I just keep cooking the same things over and over.
    Keep posting those wonderful recipes and I will give them a try (if they are simple).

    • Hey Betty, The vegetable garden forced me to up my game! I HAD to find new ways to cook things, or I’d have wasted so much food. I never knew how much eggplant we could eat! Next year I’m going to add more sweet peppers. I’d been told they didn’t do well up here, but woo-hoo, mine did great. There are a couple of really great soups—red pepper and yellow pepper— that I want to try next year. And yes, they’re simple. Thanks for stopping by. Jane

  3. This blog is definitely really useful because I’m at this time setting up an online flower blog – although I’m just starting out making it still rather small, not like this blog. May link to a few of the articles because they are fascinating. With thanks. Katelyn Frost