Sunday, September 2, 2007

I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing...

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.

Gulliver's Salad

The primary dish that I am sending along to this virtual patio party is a lovely amuse bouche that literally jumped into my hands while walking through the farmers market this Saturday morning. I'm calling it Gulliver's Salad as each of the items are miniatures and the hubby insisted that he felt like Gulliver while enjoying the tiny morsels!

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.

The second dish was a culinary feat for me, as it was a take on a dish that my mother-in-law has perfected which automatically makes it nerve wrecking for me! Who wants to compete with a beloved recipe, right! I knew I had my work cut out for me....

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!


Lis said...

Like it? We're going to LOVE it! I am amazed at both of these dishes.. they look SO GOOD!

Any chance of sharing the recipe for the stuffed eggplant? I've got 2 left from our garden and this would be perfect for them. =)

Thank you SO MUCH for joining us at the Festa!


david mcmahon said...

Yum. Great idea to use the cabbage as a bowl, too .....

citylivingcountrygirl said...

Hello Lis!

I just added the recipe so now you can follow the link on this post. I'm really looking forward to the festa! Thank you so much for having me.


p.s. the mini-lemon cukes, i bought them from the union square greenmarket and will ask them tomorrow if i see them. i'm assuming they are some funky hybrid but i will let you know!

citylivingcountrygirl said...

Hello David!
Thank you for stopping by. You see, I love purple! Anything to add color and nutrients to our meals.
I loved the picture you posted today.
Thank you for saying hello!

Ivonne said...


You have outdone yourself! The salad looks so fresh and mouthwatering and I'm pretty sure that you've given your mother-in-law a run for her money with the roasted eggplant.

Thanks so much for bringing two dishes to the party!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This looks like such a great picnic menu! Nice job!

Welcome to the Foodie Blogroll!

jackie said...

Hey - glad the eggplant dish really worked out! Looks so good...

countrygirlcityliving said...

It was my pleasure, thank you for throwing such a festive feast! I look forward to seeing what the others bring to the table.
All the best,

countrygirlcityliving said...

Hello Jenn!
Thank you for the feedback. I highly recommend the eggplant dish, it was very easy and really delicious!
Thanks again for putting together the blogroll, it's a great way for me to find other like minded cooks.

countrygirlcityliving said...

Your inspiration was certainly key in this creation so thank you for taking part, if only in spirit, in this concoction. Next time you need to come sip rose in the kitchen with me while I slice and dice... What do you say?!?! You can even bring Ty
p.s. just finished the eggplant book, i literally devoured it and think you should pick it up if you have time!