Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Week 7: The Hyper-Local Dinner

THIS WEEK'S HIT: Dinner with friends. HONORABLE MENTION: Deconstructed Squash "Salad"

Kit went off to overnight camp this week. This will not appreciably change the amount of vegetables consumed at home, or at camp, I suspect.

It's not that Kit dislikes vegetables. She dislikes risk, which makes her leery of any food presented in a novel way. Our CSA program throws her for a loop, because I tend to experiment with the vegetables we receive.

One favorite of hers, though, is corn. And that was our modest contribution to an amazing meal we had with friends a couple of days before Kit's departure to camp. Our hosts' game plan: Visit a local farmers' market for fish and vegetables and make dinner from the purchases.

Now you should know that our friends, in addition to being great cooks, are kitchen maniacs who do not restrict themselves to the model of Entree-Starch-Vegetable. So our meal -- for four adults and three children -- included striped bass and salmon from a local fish purveyor; yellow squash grilled with a homemade mocha spice mix (yup, there's a local chocolate manufacturer); grilled celeriac; collards cooked with shallots and veggie bacon; two kinds of potato salad; pickled beets and other pickled vegetables; grilled chicken cutlets; a savory plum sauce for the grilled food; wild blueberry-custard tarts; chocolate angel food cake with black raspberry sauce (raspberries from the hosts' garden!); brownies with chocolate chips and marshmallows; and the boiled corn. Just about everything served, aside from the brownies, featured a local ingredient. And I'm probably forgetting something we ate.

It would be daunting to replicate that meal, but the components came from Connors Farm (our CSA!), the Winchester Farmers Market, and the Arlington Farmers Market. There are numerous other farmers' markets in the Boston area; Taza Chocolate makes the rounds at several of them.

Back at home, we kept things simple. We mixed our CSA tomatoes and cucumbers with onion for a cool chopped salad; marinated chickpeas and more cucumber in basalmic vinegar and olive oil; and munched on peaches and sweet, raw carrots. We also fiddled with a recipe for a sauteed squash salad, cutting down on the olive oil and serving the components separately to accommodate individual tastes. The original recipe was posted on the Idylwilde Farm web site; my version is below. (Sorry, no picture. We ate this up too quickly.)

Deconstructed Squash "Salad"


2 small zucchini
2 small yellow squash
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Peel and slice the garlic. Remove the ends of the squash and slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Cut the slices in half crosswise if they are very long.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the garlic slices until they are brown. Remove and reserve the garlic. Saute the squash slices in batches until brown, about 2 minutes per side. If necessary, drain the slices on paper towels before placing on a platter.

Serve the squash at room temperature with the garlic slices, vinegar, and spices available on the side. Serves 2 to 4 people.


  1. Left out: Halibut steak, and barbecue sauce with more of the spice mix in it.

    We reused the leftover halibut steak and corn (scraped off the cod) plus various greens and truck to make a salad for the following day. We diluted the leftover plum sauce for a dressing.

    The leftover blackberry sauce went on breakfast waffles. There were no survivors. :-)

    (We appreciate the compliments. It was lovely to see you, let's do it again!)

  2. I _knew_ I was going to miss something. I'm sure the leftovers were delicious, too.

    The extra brownies did not last long here. The girls had friends over Sunday afternoon, and Caboodle offered them "some of the brownies that _I_ made." She really enjoyed baking at your house.

    We'll have to do this again soon.

  3. "... and corn (scraped off the cod) "

    Corn on the cod is a particularly tasty delicacy. You'll need to make it for us one day.

    --The (picky) Programmer

  4. Usually served with sea salt, I think.