Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Small Bites

This past weekend we had Joe’s parents staying with us. This meant an opportunity to go a little crazy at the farmer’s market. I whipped out my check book and wallet every time I saw something that looked interesting, that we hadn’t had before, or was small.

This last piece of information was really only brought to my attention recently. And although it is true, I didn’t realize it until someone else pointed it out. Realizing a facet of your personality is obvious and a bit strange to others may come as a surprise. But in an effort of full disclosure; I like small things - small children, small houses, small flowers, etc. and small foods in particular.
I discovered this is my weakness at the farmer’s market. If you have an abundance of tiny sized produce – send them my way! I bought mini-cantaloupes, pinky-finger-sized potatoes, cherry tomatoes and anything else I could get my hands on. I don’t know if this stems from not having a doll house as a child or what, but I love tiny foods. I also particularly enjoy small serving dishes. I do not mean, however, proper serving sized plates – I mean tiny pots and pans to cook individual servings in. Ramekins, for instance, constantly beckon me from the shelves of cookware stores.
When I was at a department store with my parents once, my dad offered to get me some utensil or cooking tool as a Christmas gift. I then wandered around in a haze of glee until I saw a set of 4 little red calphalon sauce pots. I said “Ooooh Dad! Look at these!”

“Cool, what do you use those for?” he responded.

“Who cares!”
(this elicited a chuckle from the man trailing his wife in the same department, who chimed in with a - ‘aren’t they all like that?’)

This weekend, I came to the conclusion that I may have pushed it a bit too far, when Joe’s father commented to him that I must really like small things. This seemed like a dirty habit of mine somehow, that I should probably monitor – especially for guests.
Nevertheless, the salad I made for our BBQ on the last day of their visit was pretty good, despite my propensity for tiny vegetables. This is a good way to use everything left over that you hadn’t already used in the week. If you have left over cooked vegetables, throw them into the mix. And if you can’t find tiny vegetables, I highly recommend cutting your boring regular sized produce into cute tiny pieces.
End of Summer Salad

The dressing for this salad came from a Thomas Keller recipe. I will probably destroy the original intent of his, but this can be used with whatever mild vinegar you happen to like, including all those flavored vinegars you have on hand.

1 lb small fingerling potatoes (or boiling potato, cut into uniform size)
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (the more colorful, the better)
1 lb assorted summer beans, cut into ½ inch chunks (green, wax, purple, Italian, Broad etc.)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tb white wine vinegar (or other light vinegar)
3 Tb olive oil
1 Tb assorted fresh chopped herbs (basil, parsley, rosemary etc.)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook for about 10-15 minutes, testing for doneness often. The time they take to cook depends on how cute I mean small they are.

About 1 minute before the potatoes have finished, add in your summer beans. Once they have all turned a bright color, and are still firm drain all the vegetables.

In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, place onions and garlic. Add drained, hot vegetables on top, and then toss in cherry tomatoes. Stir lightly to combine. Pour vinegar and oil over all vegetables, adding more oil if the salad looks a bit dry. Season with herbs, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

This salad can be served warm, or cool but is good either way.

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