Skip the Meat, Beat the Heat

It’s hot!! After a long morning of working in the sun, the last thing I want to do is slave away over a stove to prepare lunch. But some summer vegetables are just asking for at least a quick saute. What to do?

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Ever heard of a terrine? You layer ingredients into a baking dish, press down firmly to force everything together, and then enjoy it the next day. Anything can go into a terrine, and I figured I’d try and pack as many vegetables as possible in there – trying to stay within the limits of what we’ll be providing to our CSA this weekend.

The “recipe” is pretty simple, as it’s really more of an idea. I went out and collected my ingredients: eggplant, summer squash, hot peppers, onions, garlic, bush beans, kale, and basil. Any summer vegetable would work well in here though, it’s just about the proper layering technique and the right amount of liquid.

After collecting, I built up a little fire and started chopping my vegetables as I waited for the perfect cooking coals. If you don’t want to grill or work over an open flame, roasting in the oven would work fine as well. I sliced the eggplant, squash and onions about 1/4 inch thick. Peppers, garlic and beans stayed whole. Everything got a little shake in some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then onto the grill. Compliments to all grillers out there: it is definitely an art form, I applaud your skill.

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Once everything was tender and charred with grill marks and smelling musky and wonderful, I started layering into a 4-inch deep glass pan. First the eggplant, overlapping pieces to make sure every square inch was covered. Then the squash, then peppers, onions & garlic, then kale and basil, and finally the bush beans. Cover with plastic wrap, weigh it down, and stick it in the fridge until the next day. Eat it cold or at room temperature, and impress everyone with your skills. I’ll be the first to admit I viewed this as more of a homey, art project than a sophisticated, intricate dish – it turned out beautiful and tasty, but did not hold together quite as well as I was expecting.

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So to offer a few suggestions for your terrine adventure:

1) Use sauce!! I served mine on the side, and I should’ve been layering it in with the grilled vegetables. Try pesto or roasted garlic dip or cashew cheese (or ricotta, etc.). Smear it in between each layer of vegetables to get them to stick together.
2) Cook all the vegetables. My mid-terrine kale salad was just that. Kale leaves should be steamed or lightly grilled or left out. There are probably other possibilities, but I can tell you that thin, raw strips does NOT work.
3) Go for multiple layers. I think if I could’ve had another layer of eggplant and squash on top of everything, I’d have had a much better chance of keeping things together.
4) Or just layer better. Use long strips of zucchini to make a crust on the bottom and sides. Consider chopping vegetables smaller and making more of a paste or pate.
5) Improve the unveiling. Layer the vegetables in plastic wrap so you can overturn the whole dish and flip the terrine out like a cake. Really do not be afraid to weigh it down when you stick it in the fridge overnight.

No meal would be complete without some dips, so I whipped up some “pesto” and “hummus” to serve with my terrine. Garlic scapes + parsley + dill + basil for the pesto. Peas + roasted garlic + tahini for the hummus. A nice, cool meal for a hot, hard-workin’ farm crew. With that off the grill taste. Can’t beat it. DSC_0138

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