Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sometimes naked fresh is the best

What could be better than freshly sliced cucumber on a just-baked piece of bread smeared with your favorite spread and topped with a salt and herb mixture? Having just finished eating that for lunch, I can’t think of anything more satisfying for a light meal. Of course, if I hadn’t eaten my just-cut salad greens yesterday, I could have added that as a side dish. 

As gardening season winds down, I’m reminded of how much I love certain fresh produce when it’s eaten “as is” or only minimally prepared. All of the raspberries never make it into the house as I snack when I pick. Sometimes I just walk to the garden and eat straight from the vine for dessert!  Strawberries, grapes and blueberries are the same; I have to at least taste them as I harvest. Jim loves plucking the warm peach and demolishing the fruit before he bring it inside. He’ll even eat an ear of corn as soon as he picks it.

Some people savor the tomato sandwich. I really don’t care for them freshly sliced in salad or on a sandwich, but I do love making the simple Baked Caprese Salad that puts the reddest slice of a Costoluto Genovese on top of oven-toasted bread then melts mozzarella on the tomato, finishing it with a fresh Basil leaf. I feel the same way about peppers, especially yellow and red ones, in that I lightly saute them in oil, sometimes throwing in greens as well.  

A gardener and cook should always taste the labor of love at as many stages as possible to see how you like it best. Following recipes to the final instruction can result in a fabulous product. But if you taste along the way, you might find a new option for making the dish even better. 

So here’s to enjoying the last harvests of the season. Savor and commit that taste to memory. When February comes, that will be your motivation for another season of gardening.

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