Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sweet Summer Salsa

One of our favorite foods in the world is salsa. When we first met, we quickly realized that we could easily finish off a 13 oz container of salsa in one sitting, no problem. So one of the best things about our early August garden is that we have all the main ingredients for this simply delicious mexican dip. The tomatoes are plump and hanging heavily on the vine, the garlic was recently dug up by a Ms. Becky Mae Dominguez, the peppers are bright and perfectly curled and the cilantro is bursting with flowers.

Salsa comes in all different colors, textures and spice levels and we encourage you to explore with different types of salsas so you can figure out what your taste buds like best. The following salsa is a sweet and tangy garden salsa; bright in color and flavor.
We perfected this salsa recipe about two and a half years ago when we were living in Paris and salsa was no where to be found. We would spend 30 euros at Tang Freres (an amazing Asian grocery store in the 13th arrondissement) and make huge bowls of fresh California-inspired salsa and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Now that we're back in Brooklyn, salsa is still a staple in our diet and can always be found at any party we throw. We've also included a recipe for a smokey black bean dip that pairs nicely with our garden salsa.

Sweet Summer Salsa
About 20 minutes

3.5 cups freshly chopped tomatoes (about 4 medium tomatoes)
1/2 red onion (finely diced)
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 tbs agave nectar
1 tbs rice vinegar
1/2 chile pepper (very finely chopped)
Juice from 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1/2 of a chopped mango or one chopped peach for a sweeter salsa.

Method: This dish is very simple to prepare but requires a lot of prep work, so I recommend putting on your favorite album and enjoying the meditative act of chopping. Chop tomatoes, onions, cilantro and long pepper. Combine in a large bowl. Add garlic, agave, rice vinegar, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least 30 minutes and serve!

Smokey Black Bean Dip
About 15 minutes

1 can organic black beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2 red onion (chopped into a few large pieces)
3 tbs tahini
1 tbs freshly chopped oregano (1 tsp if using dried)
Juice from 1/2 lime
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 green onion
salt and pepper to taste

Method: Combine all ingredients (except for 1 tsp of paprika and the green onion) in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Empty bean dip into serving bowl. Chop green onion, white and green parts, for garnish. Sprinkle smoked paprika and chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve with salsa and organic tortilla chips and let the party begin!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Summer Squash Ghanouj

We love dips. We have an abundance of fresh summer squash in our garden. So we made a dip out of summer squash. Inspired by the smoky mashed eggplant dish
baba ghanouj, we roasted a combination of yellow summer squash and zucchini from our garden with smoked paprika and za'atar. Za'atar is a blend of dried Middle Eastern herbs and sesame seeds that lends an earthy, herbaceous aroma to the finished dip. We also added one green chile (Taiwan long hot pepper, because our garden offered us one when we knocked into the pepper plant) along with the squash to add a mild heat and chile flavor. The seasoned, roasted squash is then mashed with familiar ingredients to anyone who has ever made hummus. The only unusual ingredient is citric acid, a very tart powder also known as lemon salt that is available in spice markets or specialty stores. Honestly, we probably would have used lemon juice if we'd had a lemon, but this substitute worked beautifully. It imparts a powerful tartness without the lemon flavor or added liquid, and since squash is such a watery vegetable, no extra liquid was needed. Of course, lemon juice is a perfect substitute. Also, we like the rustic texture of this dip mashed with a fork, but it would also be delicious as a smooth dip pureed in a blender or food processor. The choice is yours. We learned today that baba means father and ghanouj means "soft or coquettish," so baba ghanouj refers to how spoiled someone will feel after eating this dish made from eggplant, the king vegetable of Middle Eastern cuisine. We guess. This is a soft and coquettish way to eat summer squash, so we stole the name.
The rest of our garden is maturing quickly, and we are now harvesting handfuls of heirloom tomatoes and greens. More recipes are to follow soon, my friends.

Summer Squash Ghanouj
About 30 minutes.
2 large summer squash, sliced
lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick
1 green chile (optional)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. za'atar
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbs. tahini
1 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. citric acid, or
the juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
1) Oil a skillet or baking dish with olive oil. Lay the slices squash in a single layer with the whole green chile. Sprinkle with salt, za'atar and smoked paprika.
2) Roast about 20 minutes, until squash is lightly browned, but still soft.
3) Allow to cool until it can be handled easily, and transfer all squash and any pan juices into a bowl.
4) Add remaining ingredients and mash until it looks like dip. Garnish with a sprinkle of za'atar. Serve with your favorite bread or crudites, it's all good.