At lunchtime once a week without fail, I am able to stroll down and get my pick of the season's finest fruits and vegetables, grown in nearby farms in Missouri and Illinois. This unprecedented access allowed me to enjoy the bounty of summer more than ever. Last week's market was the turning point- on the tables, you could see the last of the summer crops, squash, peppers, eggplant and tomato, sharing space with the first of the winter crops, cabbages, cauliflowers and greens.
Coming home with this mixed-seasonal assortment, I found myself with a tub of pesto and a container of cooked kidney beans (extras from the rajma I made a couple of days earlier) in the fridge and a scant cup of whole-wheat couscous in the pantry. It all came together in this quick salad that heralded the change of seasons in my kitchen.
On a side note, the cauliflower from the market was something to behold. For starters, it was not swaddled in plastic. The florets were shapely and looser than the turgid florets of the supermarket variety. The florets has light pink-purple striations on the stems. And the tasty was ever so cauliflowery!
Pesto Couscous Salad
(my own impromptu creation)
- Grain: Place 1 scant cup couscous in a bowl and cover with 1 cup boiling water. Cover and let it stand for 10 minutes. Fluff the grains with a fork.
- Vegetables: Meanwhile, heat extra-virgin olive oil in a heavy pan. Saute cauliflower florets, zucchini and summer squash coins and pepper strips until seared and tender, seasoning with salt and pepper. I find that fairly high heat is required to get vegetables that are juicy but with tasty brown flecks.
- Make the salad: In a large bowl, toss together the couscous, vegetables, a cup or so of cooked kidney beans. Dress with pesto, a hefty pinch of red pepper flakes, more olive oil and salt, pepper if required.
- Taste the salad and add some lemon juice or balsamic vinegar if needed to brighten the flavors.
The other happy (or disastrous, depending on whether you look at it from the point of view of the taste buds or the thighs) discovery of this summer was the jarred refrigerated ranch dressing from Whole Foods. It goes with everything (ask us how we know), including as a sauce atop this salad.
I have butternut squash soup bubbling away on the stove as I sit here and type this, so watch for Fall flavors and heartier dishes on One Hot Stove as we roll into the colder months.
A day in the life of a busy dog...
9 AM: Nap in the sun
Noon: Nap in the sun
2 PM: Congratulate yourself on a hard day's work.