The Vegetable
July 14, 2010, 6:54 pm
Filed under: James Beard Project, Southern, Vegetables

“I usualy like to bring out the pure, natural taste of a vegetable, and that is best done by adding one other simple flavor for contrast, like an aromatic herb, or a speckling of nuts, or a squirt of lemon juice.” James Beard

Now, this is a philosophy I can get ahold of. There are only a few ‘complicated’ vegetable recipes I like, and even those are pretty basic. When Terry and I were first marred, he worked in a produce department at the grocery store near our apartment. The manager would let him bring home the ‘ugly’ vegs that couldn’t be put out, but weren’t actually spoiled. A couple of times a week we would have Vegetables for supper. Steamed cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, green beans,drizzled with olive oil and some salt, sliced tomatoes with a sprinkling of oil and vinegar, maybe a dip…all tasty and FREE. Awesome, no?

nowadays, I still like a simple vegetable. Tossed baby greens from the garden with some garlic infused olive oil and rice vinegar, crisp snow peas in a bowl, that I sort of waved in the general direction of some hot water. I could eat those like popcorn. Chilled cucumbers sprinkled with fresh chopped dill. A perfectly ripe tomato…now that’s straight from the mind of God.

He has many suggestions for vegetable pairings that I am anxious to try:
Baked beets with onion and orange
Sauteed cucumbers with snow peas
Baked stuffed Greek tomatoes
Spiced winter squash with pecans and ginger
and maybe a couple hundred more.

Tomorrow night I am cooking for some friends, and will make his roasted red pepper slaw. (among other things including summer squash casserole which is not his recipe, but will go with the whole fresh summer garden vibe of the meal)

Fresh Summer Squash Casserole
4 or 5 medium sized summer squash (yellow crookneck, pattypan, both are good) sliced thin
1 large vidalia onion, sliced thin
Steam the squash and onion together, then drain and squeeze out the excess water by dumping them into a kitchen towel and wring it over the sink.
Mix together:
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup crushed Ritz crackers+ 1/2 cup set aside (just crush up a whole sleeve and set some aside)
Mix the squash and onions in with the sour cream stuff and pour into a greased casserole dish.
Mix together the reserved 1/2 cup of cracker crumbs with 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (I like sharp, but whatever you like) and put on top of the stuff.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or so, until it’s bubbly and the cheesy crumbs are nice and brown.

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