Monday, July 25, 2011

The flavours of Summer

For the next while I suspect many of my posts will have a "flavours of summer" theme.  My cucumbers are going gangbusters, the tomatoes are colouring up, the soy beans are staring down the rest of the garden for dominance, the carrots still look good....  And then there's the produce at the farm stands and farmer's markets!  We've been gorging on blueberries and cherries, and peaches have begun too.  Let's not forget the corn as well.  We've had that 3 times in just over a week.

Yesterday afternoon I was looking at the zucchini and summer squash Little Miss (3) had chosen from the farmer's market on Saturday.  We don't eat a lot of either, but I had something ratatouille-esque in mind when she asked for them.  As I began looking at recipes, I realized that I had no eggplant.  Okay, time for plan B.  I had tomatoes, sweet onions and farm fresh garlic.  I chose the yellow squash and thought about what to make.  How about a "marmalade" of sorts (and for lack of a much better term)?  Something sweet and sour that would go well on a burger, or topping some crusty bread slices.  Okay fine, now to make it happen.

I began by lightly caramelizing the thinly sliced onions.  Then I added the garlic, the quartered squash slices and a few diced tomatoes.  Played with brown sugar and red wine vinegar.  I resisted the urge to add oregano, which in my mind always goes with anything having to do with cooked tomatoes (I blame my Italian fore-bearers) and opted instead for thyme.  Ah, a French-inspired creation.  Sounds good to me.  I let it cook until it was relatively thick.  In the end I got about 3 cups of... whatever it became.  LOL  And while I liked it well enough still warm on crusty bread, I'm sure it will be even better at room temperature.

Sweet and Sour Onion, Tomato & Summer Squash Spread

1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or a good, fruity olive oil if you have it)
2 sweet onions, quartered and thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large summer squash or zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
5-6 tomatoes (peeled if you're so inclined - I didn't, but should have)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp thyme (more if using fresh)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large enamel sauce pot heat the oil over medium and add the onions and a little salt and pepper. Cook until they begin to caramelize, then add the garlic.  When it's fragrant, add the squash and tomatoes and give it a good stir.  Add the thyme, vinegar and sugar, and keep them out to adjust the flavour as you go along.  Let it all bubble over medium-low heat until it starts to thicken and much of the liquid has evaporated away (this took over an hour in my pot).  Check for seasoning and adjust to taste, making sure to cook out any raw vinegar flavour.

Pack into clean canning jars and keep in the fridge (I froze some).  Use as a topping for crusty bread, burgers, chicken, fish... even meatloaf.

I bet this would be nice with a couple of dried chilies tucked into it while it simmers.

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