Hand in hand, the paint palette an artist holds to create a masterpiece walks the same path as a chef who chooses to cook with the beautiful colors provided naturally. It was Paul Gaugin who said, “It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block.”
Spring, summer, and autumn, the farmers’ markets, orchards, and victory gardens of our backyards provide a feast for our eyes. Giant heads of cauliflower, in season during the autumn months, are a stand out in the color spectrum. Will it hold it’s color when cooked? Yes, and depending on how it is prepared, the color may change a bit. If you were to par-boil the florettes for ten minutes, then stop the cooking by immersing in ice water, the color will mellow to a pastel, but be beautiful just the same. Put the florettes into a buttered casserole dish, cover with Bechamel sauce and a mixture of cheeses, then bake for thirty minutes. Voila, you have a frame worthy side dish to add to your dinner table. Cauliflower can just as easily be roasted in bite-size pieces on a baking sheet. Give the veg a little olive oil massage, salt and pepper and bake for half an hour or so. Bright colors will look fantastic in a serving bowl and are delicious too.
Enormous heads are turning up all over the farm markets. These sunflower heads were for sale at our local farm stand this week. What to do with them? Roast the seeds, salt them and eat them, or put them out for the birds to enjoy.
Husk covered ground cherries, like pretty little orange pearls when the husks are removed are an unusual find at the market. A little tangy, a little citrusy, and a bit reminiscent of pineapple in flavor, these little gems make a unique addition to a salsa recipe.
Like a crayon box, these radishes run from red, to pink to purple and white. Slice them into a salad? Well, yes, but try something different. They are delicious roasted with meat. Sauteed in a butter and oil mix, they make an ordinary meal extraordinary. Radishes have a nice savory bite to them raw or cooked.
Fresh ginger, so hard to find at the markets is such a pretty shade of pink. Mild in flavor, fresh ginger is delicious in tea, and so good for you.
Tomatoes, in all their kaleidoscopic sizes and shades can also still be found at the markets. Yellows, greens, oranges and reds, they are perfect in a vinaigrette. Guild the lily, and add some buffalo mozzarella or shavings of parmesan cheese to the dish. Summer may be over, but her flavors live on.
If you haven’t had enough of an eyeful of vibrant color, look for the peppers. Don’t let the shades of red and green fool you though. Some of the cutest looking little habanero’s can turn on a lot of heat, and be for-warned, a ghost pepper only sounds cute at this time of year. That heat can bring some serious pain.
We may be saying goodbye to summer garden treats, but there is plenty more to be had at the farm markets. Add color and spice to your dinner table and surprise everyone with a new flavor.