Home Made, Home Grown, Home Crafted

One Vegetable Can a Summer Make

Posted by BCM on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 Under: Gardening

It’s mid-summer already. 

And, apart from a sharp blast of inferno like heat, the weather so far has fallen well short of expectations.

Post BREXIT referendum exchange rates make it more expensive to go abroad. Many of us then will have chosen to stay firmly put in the UK this year.

There’s nothing at all wrong with staycations. But there’s no need to feel deprived of sunshine. It can be brought to us on a plate using readily available ingredients.

Take aubergines. And let’s refer to them as vegetables even though, botanically speaking, they’re berries!

At their best now, these glossy, smooth-skinned, purple vegetables can be grown at home with a bit of care and attention. They certainly have a touch of the exotic about them.
Originally from India, they became popular in Mediterranean countries from the fifteenth century. Not surprisingly, they make you think of holidays in the sun.

No holidaymaker returns from Greece without the lingering taste of Moussaka on their palette. This dish combines layers of aubergine slices sautéed in olive oil with minced lamb and tomatoes and is topped with a creamy béchamel sauce.

Another favourite is Baba Ganoush, popular in countries on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean and other parts of the Middle East. This rich smoky dip prepared with the flesh of roasted aubergines, lemon juice and garlic is especially delicious with home made Walnut Soda Bread. The name means “pampered dad” in Arabic but will appeal to Mum as well as the rest of the family as a perfect summer starter.

Combined with home grown ripe tomatoes, peppers and courgettes, also in abundance now, aubergines offer even more scrumptious possibilities.

Ratatouille is a robust mix of these vegetables cooked slowly over a low heat. It originates from Nice, in the South of France, and never fails to please, hot or cold. To appreciate the layers of flavour, the chef Nigel Slater recommends cooking each ingredient separately before mixing together. Well, why not, if you have the time?

According to many though, an even better, more piquant, version of this vegetable ragout is to be found further south on the sun-drenched island of Sicily, just off the toe of Italy.

Sicily was under Muslim rule for over 200 years and one lasting influence on its cooking is the combination of sweet and sour flavours, known as agrodolce. The renowned Caponata has all of this and more.

As with many traditional dishes, no two chefs will follow exactly the same recipe but this vegetarian feast offers an unforgettable riot of colour that will really get your taste buds popping.

Feeling that summer glow yet? Well, you need go no further than the Balham Country Market to find several of these dishes, all freshly made at home, ready for you to take away and enjoy.

In : Gardening 

Tags: aubergine sunshine summer caponata "baba ganoush" "walnut soda bread"