I’ve Made Peace with Summer Produce
“You still have tomatoes?” I whispered to Julia as I scanned what was left at the Mt. Pleasant Farmers’ Market.
She knew I wasn’t referring to what produce was available a mere 30 minutes before closing, but rather that tomatoes still graced the market the first Saturday in November. “They’re from the hothouse, I think,” she whispers back, eyes squinting out of secrecy.
“They’ve all been picked at this point,” Julia guesses, as she only works the stand, not farms the land. (Not that selling vegetables—and making change without a calculator!—is easy on a weekend morning.)
I didn’t try one of the last quarts of tiny yellow tomatoes. I’ve made peace with summer produce. I’ve said my goodbyes. I bought the last of my tomatoes two weeks ago, roasting them in a low and slow oven, and letting them linger in my fridge for just a few more weeks.
Using them sparingly at first—a few in an egg scramble, a few right to the mouth, a few on toast—I now must act fast before mold wins them over.
Like everything else in life, oven-dried tomatoes pair well with feta. I decided to blend both of the ingredients together, with slight variations on two different nights, for a sauce for two different meals.
Whole Wheat Angel Hair with Spinach, Feta and Oven-Dried Tomato Sauce
While the water was boiling for the pasta, I placed a package of frozen spinach right on top of the water in a metal steamer with a lid on top. In mean time I added feta, oven-dried tomatoes, one spoonful of Crema Mexicana, one garlic clove, fresh oregano, and about 3/4 of the defrosted spinach (not drained of excess water, the extra water helped everything blend together) into a blender.
I then poured the feta mixture into a high-walled saucepan to warm up and added about 1/2 cup of the pasta water (which had turned green from the spinach leaking). I let the sauce bubble and thicken and I seasoned with salt and pepper. Then I threw the quick-cooking (4-5 min) pasta into the salted water.
When the pasta finished I scooped it right into the sauce and stirred everything together. I decided this definitely wasn’t saucy enough so I added in about 3 or 4 more spoonfuls of Crema Mexicana. I felt very Sandra Lee, basically adding sour fucking cream to pasta, but the cream makes such an easy sauce and adds such a nice, slight tang, I went for it anyway. I stirred everything around again and added parm, salt and pepper as finishing touches.
I served this with toasted Rosemary Country bread, rubbed with garlic (it’s so freaking cool how garlic melts on hot bread!) and smeared butter.
Potatoes and Spinach with Feta and Oven-Dried Tomato Sauce
I boiled diced potatoes in salted water and placed a package of frozen spinach right on top of the water in a metal steamer. In mean time, I sauteed garlic and half a large onion in oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. In a small blender I added: feta, oil, one hot pepper (or sub something hot of your choice), a spoonful of Crema Mexicana and oven-dried tomatoes.
Once the potatoes could be easily pierced with a fork (4-5 minutes) I mixed them with the onions and garlic, half of the spinach (which I drained of excess water) and the feta-tomato spread (which should be thick like a dip) and placed it in a casserole dish. I left that in a 375-degree oven until it was heated through and the potatoes were extremely soft. In my shitty oven it took about 45-50 minutes.
I ate this by mushing the potatoes, basically creating a giant mashed potato. 80 ate the potatoes in the intended chunks.