18 January 2009

Homegrown Pure and Simple

Michel Nischan actually grows the food he writes about. Don't get me wrong, I love chefs who haunt farmers markets but there is something special about a chef who actually had ground under his nails. Homegrown Pure and Simple: Great Healthy Food from Garden to Table is Nischan's homage to food from his own garden plot, a plot he learned to love from his mother.

Along the way, Paul Newman joined Nischan's mother as an influence in his life. Together they opened Dressing Room, to spread their love of sustainable, locally produced food.

Generally, we have tons of squash at Doe Run Farm, but last season we were decimated by squash beetles. It seems to me this was our entire squash crop, though there might have been a bit more!

I'm fond this summer squash recipe. Try it with different herbs in the onion saute.

Split-and-Grilled Summer Squash with Verbena-Onion Saute

2 Sweet onions
2 tablespoons rice or grapeseed oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh lemon verbena leaves
12 assorted small to medium summer squashes

1. Prepare the charcoal or gas grill for grilling over a medium-hot fore. lightly oil the grill grate.

2. Meanwhile, toss the onions with the oil and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until it begins to brown. Stir in the verbena leaves and immediately remove from the heat. Set aside and cover to keep warm. You will have about 2 cups of onion mixture.

4. Split each squash in half lenghtwise, or horizontally for pattypans, to preserve the original shape of the squash. Season the cut sides with salt and pepper.

5. When the fire is ready, place the squash cut side down, on the hottest part of the grill and cook for about 2 minutes, or until you see clear grill marks when you lift the squash. Rotate each squash half a half-turn and grill for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until marked with cross-hatching. Turn the squash halves over so that they are skin side down. Grill for about 3 minutes longer, or until the squash is just heated through.

6. Arrange the squash halves on a warmed serving platter and top with the verbena-onion saute. Serve at once.

Food and Wine had a great article about Michel and Paul Newman and their restaurant, Dressing Room. Check it out: Paul Newman’s Next Act, Co-Starring Chef Michel Nischan.

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