My Little Garden and Monday Lunch

I have a small, raised-bed garden behind the garage, designed mainly to grow vegetables for our pizzas.  It hasn’t worked out well yet.  Three years ago, the critters ate all the produce.  Last year our electric fence kept the critters out, but a dry summer and my absenteeism during vacation wiped out the crop again.  This year the fence worked; I was home most of the summer, so I could water when needed.  But something is still wrong: our crop yield is minuscule:

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What you see above is one of about 10 zucchini we grew this year, plus our entire crop of Bietole and Padron Peppers.  And that was a few weeks ago.

Today I decided to turn the fence off for a few minutes and check the current situation.  I was able to return to the kitchen with three perfect 4-5″ baby zucchini and a handful of Provencal thyme, which I grew successfully from seed three years ago.  This was a fine opportunity to experiment for lunch.

Real, natural baby zucchini have always fascinated me, so I took out my favorite sauteuse and began by sautéeing a crushed clove of garlic plus all the thyme with three small rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes from Campania.  Then I added the baby zucchini and continued to cook on medium high heat.  When the zucchini had a little color and the garlic was getting brown, I added 1 small fresh tomato, seeded and diced, and cooked two more minutes.  Add some sea salt and pepper.

Now for some white wine (~1/3 cup), boiled off the alcohol, reduced the heat, covered the pan and braised until the tomatoes were melting into the olive oil and the zucchini were nice and tender.  Meanwhile, I toasted a slice of my Field Blend #2 Forkish whole grain bread, cut it in half and when the pieces were ready, a dredged them in the pan — scooping up the olive oil and crushed garlic.  A little more cooking on high heat to remove any remaining liquid, and then I placed the little babies in a pasta plate with a bit of sauce.

baby zucchini braised

I remembered that I had some fresh goat cheese from the farmers market yesterday, so I added that to the bread and served lunch.

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I don’t know if you can feel the umami from the last picture, but I must tell you that after the braise, the mouth feel of the olive oil, garlic, two kinds of tomato, and traces of the white wine was amazing.  What white wine?  It was a 2011 AN Quíbia from Mallorca (Spain), which I had purchased last week at Social Wines in South Boston.  Made of indigenous grapes that you and I have never heard of before, it is delicious — yet another of those unknown wines which I have come to relish.

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I was still a little hungry, so I toasted another piece of the bread, sopped up all the remaining sauce, spread on some Kalamata tapenade and the goat cheese, poured the rest of the wine, and decided that — for a Monday — it was a good lunch.

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