When I first read about the La Festa al Fresco patio party I was excited to stretch my creative wings, sharpen my knives, and send in a recipe that might be worthy of these culinary mavens. The rules were to create a dish, appetizer to dessert, that was made of a seasonal ingredient. Little did I know how much I would struggle to create just the right dish, but I think I might have found it!
The end of summer is bountiful enough in these parts for me to find just about any delicious vegetable I might desire, with the exception of asparagus unfortunately. The colors are vibrant and the varieties are many, so I decided what better to prepare than a dish (or two) made up of all the seasons veggies.
While we walked through the market the pea shoots and miniature lemon cucumbers were too adorable (and also incredibly tasty) to pass up, as were the purple and green cabbage from our favorite organic farmer. The end of summer staples of corn, tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic were already waiting at home in the fridge and viola! a meal is made. Using the cabbage as a bowl and a bit of pesto for the dressing this dish literally assembled itself.
This dish was inspired by her 'poor man's caviar' recipe which is essentially a roasted eggplant's flesh with roasted garlic blended and used as a dip. Only this time I used the beautiful purple shell to hold the vegetable medley that would become our dinner. This dish began by slicing an eggplant lengthwise and drizzling it with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Then I placed a head of garlic in foil next to the eggplant and placed it in the oven to roast at around 350 for about 25 minutes. I then got to work on the stuffing....
The stuffing was a series of dishes made in one pan. First fresh corn on the cob and red peppers were gently sauteed in olive oil with some onions and garlic. Once removed from the pan, free range beef was added and seasoned with cumin, chili peppers, salt and pepper and was quickly sauteed as well. (Using the remainder of the olive oil from the corn mixture)
When the beef was almost done I added some fresh spinach and covered the pan to wilt the spinach. Finally I tossed all of the veggies to warm them through. Each half of eggplant received a generous dollup of 'poor man's caviar' and was then filled with this healthy mixture.
For an entirely invented meal it was quite yummy and very well received. I hope my friends at the patio party like it!