Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tomatoes and Basil

For those of you following my blog, you know I didn't get around to planting my garden until the second week of June this year. I knew the weather in L.A. would cooperate with me through October. I was surprised to find that the rate of development of this garden was phenomenal. I was cooking large grilled green tomatoes by the end of July. I have at least 150+ tomatoes currently on my 5 different varietal vines. The first fully ripe tomato was about a week ago, Sunday I picked the second. Today I picked three. They are off and running to ripen probably peaking at the same time in a week or two.

Anyway, I pick up todays L.A. food section note an article by Regina Schrambling on "Tomato Ennui? Peach Fatigue?" where she references a food blog that ..."contended that it might be possible to eat too many raw tomatoes with fresh basil in summertime". Mid August being the time when most tomatoes ripen. My garden then wasn't really behind. While enjoying all those grilled green tomatoes, I wasn't by myself. I just commented to my husband G that my basil plant was doing better this year than any other plant I have had before. As a matter of fact, I had a tomato (ripe), basil and mozzarella on grilled toast for dinner tonight.

This article also suggested that we step out of the box when considering what to do with fresh harvest be it from your garden or the farmer's market. Imagine sauteed cucumbers with fried pancetta. I never would of thought. I have two cucumbers from my garden in the refigerator now and about 5 nearly ready to pull. I know what I'm cooking this weekend. Vegetables usually served after heating- serve them cold. Vegetables usually served cold- serve them heated.

The article ends by stating "This time of year, my little motto would be: Take the tomatoes somewhere hot and the corn somewhere cold. It doesn't even have to take long to be transported."

Sautéed cucumbers with pancetta

Total time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

2 slender cucumbers

1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons butter

4 very thin slices pancetta (about 1 ounce total)

Coarse sea salt and white pepper

1 tablespoon chopped chives for garnish

1. Peel and trim the cucumbers. Cut in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Cut each half lengthwise into thirds or fourths so each strip is no more than one-half inch wide. Cut crosswise on the diagonal, alternating directions, to make small triangles.

2. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp, about 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

3. Wipe the pan completely clean with a paper towel. Add the remaining butter, then the cucumbers. Cook quickly, stirring, until the cucumbers are just wilted but still crunchy, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Toss with the chives. Crumble the pancetta over and serve at once.

Each serving: 81 calories; 1 gram protein; 2 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 8 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 20 mg. cholesterol; 57 mg. sodium.

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