Friday, June 21, 2013
Veggie Skewers and Pluot Appetizers
This has been a great week for the farm box. There were ears of fresh, sweet, juicy white corn. There were multicolored Gypsy pepper, sort of like bell peppers, but with a thinner wall. There were amazing ripe apricots and pluots, plus two kinds of squash, fingerling sweet potatoes...I know...who knew sweet potatoes could be tiny and super sweet, plus a lovely honeydew melon, and Nantes carrots. Probably the perfect farm box for late spring...and very inspiring, too.
We used the Gypsy peppers and the squash for veggie skewers to go with the yummy Persian flatbread that I made as part of the Bread Baking Babes challenge for June. I used some Meyer lemons that a friend had just given me in the dressing for the veggies and it added just the right bright note. Sweetie cooked them on the grill just long enough to char them here and there, but not so much that they had a soggy texture (a problem sometimes with squash).
A few days later I sliced that same flatbread very thin, brushed each slice on both sides with olive oil, and Sweetie grilled them so that they crisped up. I used them as the base for an unusual appetizer inspired by something similar I had at the Camilla Tea Room in Benicia. Fresh, ripe, juicy pluots ( a cross between an apricot and a plum, but you could use plums instead) are cut into a small dice and doused with balsamic vinegar. I added a touch of cardamom as a counterpoint to the sweetness. Once the mixture marinates for at least 1/2 an hour you spoon some onto the toasts. Chopped, toasted walnuts are sprinkled on, lending a toasty crunch. Blue cheese bits are crumbled on as a nice contrasting zing to the pluots. It has it all...crunchy, sweet, sour, salty, toasty, nutty and zingy from the cheese. Quite a mouthful of delight.
Who knows what recipes the next farm box will inspire. The recipes below are written so that you can size them for the number of people you are serving. Have fun and, if at all possible, use fresh, local produce.
Pluot or Plum Bruchetta
Very thin slices of flatbread or focaccia (about 3 per person)
1 pluot or small plum per person
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar per pluot or plum
dash of cardamom per pluot or plum
1 teaspoon chopped toasted walnuts per pluot or plum
about 1 tablespoon blue cheese crumbles per pluot or plum
Brush the thin slices of bread with the olive oil on both sides. Grill or toast each slice until toasted and crispy. Let cool.
Finely dice the pluot(s) or plum(s). Place in a non-reactive dish and add the balsamic vinegar and the cardamom. Stir to combine. Let sit for at least 1/2 hour or up to 4 hours.
When ready to serve the bruchetta, place a slice on work surface. Spoon on the plums with a slotted spoon, leaving some space on the bread slice for the walnuts and cheese. Sprinkle with the walnuts, then the cheese.
Serve at once. There will be about three slices per person.
wooden skewers - two per person
veggies cut into chunks...I used zucchini squash, pattypan squash and Gypsy peppers, but you could also use fresh corn on the cob, cut into chunks, cherry tomatoes, or any other veggie that will thread onto a skewer.
Marinade for two people:
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 1/2 hour.
While skewers are soaking, mix together the marinade in a non-reactive bowl and add the veggie chunks. Stir to coat the veggies. Let veggies marinate, stirring occasionally, until you are ready to grill them.
Thread the veggies on skewers, leaving room at the bottom (for holding) and top (so veggies won't fall off the top). Brush with the marinade and grill on one side until charred. Turn to other side, brush with marinade, and cook until desired doneness.
Serve at once.