The more I learn about cooking, and really any other subject, the more I realize I don’t know. There are just so many little things I haven’t ventured to try with cooking yet, and so many techniques and little tricks that sneak by me. For instance, if you’re making a big salad with romaine, you’ll want to tear the lettuces with your hands rather than slicing, otherwise you’ll get those brown, oxidized leaves we all saw growing up in salad bars. Genius.
Or that if you have a large eggplant, it’s great to slice and salt it about a half hour before cooking, to draw out any bitter juices. This will also help you to avoid those yucky, soggy eggplant pieces that soak up all the oil. A trick I am happy to try again. I’ve failed cooking eggplant a few times in the past, so it kind of intimidated me and I sadly avoided, consciously or not, bringing it back into my kitchen for A. Long. Time. But after the lovely salt trick, I’m ready to welcome it into my home again. Sorry for our falling out, eggplant. Remember when I used to make baba ganoush? That was fun, let’s do that again.
I’m so happy to have learned about purslane! The succulent leave on the edges of the plate above are commonly thought of as a weed, as they show up and grow prolifically. Last year, I saw it popping up everywhere around the yard, got excited and thought it might be something good, and then heard it was a weed and pulled it all out. But it’s actually a very beautiful, tasty plant and is super good for you to boot. It kind of tastes like spinach, but the succulent leaves give it a nice bite. We serve it at The Market Restaurant! Tons of omega-3s, vitamins and minerals — an easy source of those wonderful fatty acids.
Take a look around your yard for purslane. You’ll want to pick the leaves and can eat the stem, but it’s tastiest to just have the skinniest part of the stem, since it is still tender. Many farms also harvest and sell purslane and sell it quite cheaply since it grows naturally. If you can’t find it in your own yard or from a local farm, ask around! Some farms may be quite happy to start harvesting and selling it.
This dish is really great to make with almost any summer vegetables. We’re at the peak of the season now, so you’ll have your pick of the crops at the farmers’ market. I’m loving all the sweet, local corn, peppers, green and yellow beans, eggplant, you name it. I feel like I need to stuff myself silly with all the fresh summer produce because I know I’ll seriously miss it come wintertime. This is a really great dish as either a side or a main – you could serve it with or without a grain for a vegetarian entree, or bring it to a cookout as a veggie side.
Roughly 4 servings
- 4 ears corn, shucked and sliced off the cob
- 1 Japanese (skinny and long) or other variety eggplant, sliced
- 2 fresh peppers: Cubanello, bell, shishito, etc, diced
- Cherry tomatoes
- A good handful of purslane, leaves picked off stem
- A couple handfuls of green & yellow beans, tough end picked off
- Olive oil
- Sea salt & pepper
- Soft-boiled egg, optional
Lay the slices of eggplant on a large plate and salt them well, letting them sit for at least a half hour, to allow the juices to come out a bit. Preheat the oven to 350.
There are a couple different ways you cook incorporate the cherry tomatoes into this dish. You could roast them in a separate pan, drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper, however they will need longer than the time it takes to cook the rest of the veggies. If you decide to roast the cherry tomatoes, put them in the preheated oven now. Or, you could add them raw and at room temperature to the dish after it’s done cooking.
Bring a pot of water to boil, and blanch the green & yellow beans for about 30 seconds. Have an ice bath ready, and remove the blanched beans from the pot and submerge them into the ice bath to stop the cooking.
Gently rinse some of the salt off the eggplant once its had enough time to sit. Dice the eggplant. Slice the beans into bite-size pieces as well.
Combine the eggplant, pepper, corn, and green beans into a medium baking dish with a couple nice pats of butter, sea salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, tasting for doneness. The green and yellow beans may not be super bright when you’re done cooking, but they’ll be really yummy and still retain a nice crunch. Let cool for a couple moments and add in the roasted cherry tomatoes, if you cooked them separately.
To serve, drizzle each portion with a bit of the sorrel-yogurt sauce, recipe follows. I like to use one of those tacky red ketchup bottles we used to have for middle school lunches to drizzle sauces – works like a charm! It’s great with a soft-boiled egg — instructions on how to make a great soft-boiled egg are here.
From Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison
Sorrel is a bright, tart green that adds a delicious pop of flavor to many different dishes. Typically used cooked, it’s actually quite good raw blended into a yogurt sauce. The creamy yogurt balances out the leaf’s tartness. I got this recipe from Vegetable Literacy, who in turn got the idea from Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. Pretty excited to have my first sorrel plant this year! Another green with lots of antioxidants.
If you can’t find sorrel, I think the succotash would be just as yummy with either of these variations: basil-mint yogurt sauce, or arugula-lemon yogurt sauce. The recipe quantities would be the same, keeping the total amount of greens at one cup. Both the basil-mint and the arugula would get a squeeze of lemon. All other quantities stay the same.
Makes about 1 cup
- About 2 cups sorrel leaves
- 1 clove garlic pounded to a puree
- 1/3 cup full-fat yogurt or sour cream
- Slivered chives or garlic chives
- Sea salt
If the sorrel leaves are a bit more mature, you’ll want to fold them in half to pull out the stem along the leaf. Otherwise, if they are young, you can leave the center stem in and just remove the leaf from the base stem. Tear the leaves into large pieces and put it into a food processor with the yogurt and garlic, pureeing until smooth. Stir in the chives and sea salt, to taste. This will keep in the fridge, covered, for a few days.
Aside from using it in this dish, I’ve also had it topping meatballs with grass-fed beef, a salad, and am about to try it with bacon & eggs!