Have you noticed how many new businesses are named SomeThing + SomeOtherThing? Who started that? Why is it so popular? I have no idea, but I do know that garden produce + olive oil = (really easy) (really tasty) meals. You might say “well, that’s obvious“, but I never thought of it as a defined concept until I read Extra Virgin by Annie Hawes. She writes:
…thanks to all those insistently ripening eat-me-now-or-I’ll-rot vegetables, we have at last understood what it is about the olive that has made it such a symbol of peace and plenty for the last couple of thousand years. The olive is magic: if you have olive oil…you can transform virtually calorie-free greenery into nutrition-packed sustenance.
…we’re too lazy to bother going all the way down to the shop. So, go down to the orto instead to see what it dictates for lunch: return with some tomatoes, a fistful of basil, a few zucchini. Boring? But cut the zucchini in strips lengthwise and stick them on your griddle; when they are a bit translucent and brown-stripey, chuck them in a bowl with some garlic and olive oil, a crumpled thyme twig. Leave a few minutes for the flavors to mix. Mmmm, as we English so ludicrously say.
No zucchini here, alas, but we continue to get a few ripe tomatoes every few days. The seedling onions are starting to make bulbs. And I don’t have fistfuls of basil due to poor planning, but due to poor cultivation I do have enough volunteer basil plants to snip some leaves (poor + poor=OK sometimes).
Chop it all up, add olive oil, salt and pepper and you have a vegetable dish to serve.
I made this twice this past week. Once as described and next substituting a mature “potato onion” and chives for green onion and basil.
Olive oil + garlic + herb also makes a pretty good seasoning for steamed vegetables or a dip for bread or a base for a marinade. Smash a couple cloves of garlic with the flat side of a knife, put them in a small microwavable bowl, add a few sprigs of some herb, add enough olive oil to cover, and then microwave for a very short time on low power. You don’t want to cook the garlic and herbs, just heat them enough to release their flavor into the oil. For the amount I make, that would be less than 30 seconds on medium or low power. Last night I used this technique twice. First with rosemary as a sauce or flavoring for steamed new potatoes, and second with a mix of thymes (variegated lemon, Provencal, Lemon Mist) as a marinade base for chicken breast on skewers. The rest of the marinade was a splash of basil vinegar (from a previous year) and ground white pepper and ground Korean red chili pepper.
That’s about it from here for this week’s Garden to Table Challenge at Greenish Thumb. I hoped to have green beans soon so I could write about something besides onions and garlic, but while we were away last weekend the critters settled into the garden and chewed off all the bush beans.
I’m attempting to prevent further chewing by mulching with thyme and fennel prunings. Let’s see what happens.