The Raw and the Cooked

Dinner:  August 2, 2007

Yes, folks, we are in the middle of yet another heatwave. There’s so much haze hanging over the city the air looks grey. This is no weather for heavy meals or for heating up the kitchen.

We still had an abundance of fresh veggies to work with from Mike’s previous trips to the Greenmarket, so I decided to do another meatless dinner – a sort of salad with grilled eggplant and summer squash, sliced raw heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and lots of fresh herbs in a light vinaigrette. I seasoned the vinaigrette with dried Herbes de Provence and fennel seeds, and used it as both a marinade for the squash and eggplant slices, and to drizzle over the tomatoes and mozzarella.

Mike grilled the veggies for just a couple of minutes per side on the cool part of the grill, just to give them a bit of color and smokiness. I sliced and salted the tomatoes and layered them with slices of mozzarella around the outside of our plates, then mounded the grilled veggies in the center of each. I sprinkled a generous amount of chopped herbs from the garden (green and opal basil, thyme and chives) on top, and finished by spooning the remainder of the dressing/marinade over each plate. The grilled vegetables still had a bit of crunch, and I loved how the tomatoes added their flavor to the whole dish as their juices combined with the vinaigrette – this was a delicious medley of colors, textures and flavors.

10 thoughts on “The Raw and the Cooked

  1. Mmmm….sort of like a kicked up Capresi salad! I love the combination of heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and herbs (I presume basil was one of them?) but I’ve never thought to add even more vegetables. Delicious!

  2. Jennifer Hess says:

    Hillary – yes, that is pretty much what I was thinking of when I put it together! And I used two basils in this – regular Genovese and our lovely opal basil. 🙂

  3. Mary C says:

    Yum Yum! How beautiful it looks! I’ve done the grilled veg thing as a side to seafood or meat, of course, but haven’t taken it to the main course salad place…great idea!

  4. Jennifer Hess says:

    Okay, Simon. I’ll share with my readers your previous, oh-so-constructive comment, which I didn’t publish. You said:

    “All your stuff looks the same.”

    So what? I’m not a pro and I have no desire to be. I have no desire to practice molecular gastronomy or work my way through the recipes of the greats. All I’m doing here is talking about what we’ve made for dinner. The food I cook is good enough for my husband and it’s good enough for me, and frankly, that’s all I really care about. If you don’t like what I’m doing here, there’s the door.

  5. Rose is Rose says:

    I just have to say that I had the fortunate opportunity to try this medly (as well as other Jenblossom concoctions) and Miss Jennifer is a Goddess.

  6. Simon has a right to his opinion – but Jennifer is delivering exactly what her blog title says she is – last night’s dinner! And if she wants to eat similar things (though I don’t find it all too similar), she has every right to! I am an avid fan of your blog Jennifer 🙂

  7. SP says:

    That’s all well and good, but don’t you ever fry anything? What about making pasta? I guess I’m a bit annoyed at all the vegetables you eat, a plate of veggies and some meat isn’t a complete or satisfying meal to me. Sure they’re in season, they’re yummy, but this all smacks of anti-carb low fat hipsterism. Don’t get me wrong, your food looks delicious and the photography is great, but I’m feeling a bit knee jerkish against the super “artisanal”, “oragnic this and that” snobbery that smacks of a patronizing pseudo rustic utopianism. I enjoy your blog very much, and thank you for posting my contrarian comments, keep up the good work. It’s just that as a member of your adoring audience, I’d like to see more fat, more starches and less veggies, not every night, but every once in a while. Come on, you know you want to get down with a nice gratin dauphinois, or some fresh fettucine with creme fraiche, pancetta and mushrooms, or some panko breaded chicken cutlets. Let’s see some butter, and lots of it. I’d bet you’d do a bang up job with a higher calorie menu.

  8. Jennifer Hess says:

    Thanks for coming back and clarifying – I’ll admit I was a bit testy already (the result of awakening to break up a scrum between the cats at 5 a.m., among other things), and I misread your initial comment as an attack.

    You may not be seeing a lot of butter and cream and fried food on here for a while to come, because in an apartment cooled by one small air conditioner (in the bedroom, which happens to be located as far away from the kitchen as possible), it’s just too darn hot to cook that way right now! But that doesn’t mean I don’t use those things – in fact, I don’t consider my fridge to be fully stocked unless I’ve got a big hunk of good butter, heavy cream, creme fraiche and a variety of cheeses on hand.

    I’ve recently fried squash blossoms and green tomatoes, and my husband does an excellent buttermilk fried chicken. He made his last huge batch for a picnic with friends, and we had a few days’ worth of leftovers for lunch.

    I love pastas with rich cheesy sauces, mashed potatoes and risottos and gratins enriched with plenty of butter and cream, and I wouldn’t dream of frying my tortillas for enchiladas in anything other than the rendered leaf lard we always have on hand. I make a kick ass mac & cheese too. Every pan sauce I make is finished with butter, and sometimes cream as well – and while I generally don’t photograph it, we often have bread or rolls with our meals.

    I hope that a spin around the archives will show that we don’t shy away from carbs or richer meals – just not in the heat of the summer. We do like to eat seasonally – Mike and I are both from the Midwest, and we grew up on your typical working-class Midwestern dinners, so it has been a real treat for us to shop the Greenmarkets and specialty stores, to buy fish that was swimming around the day before, to taste and enjoy the variety of vegetables that grow in this region, that didn’t come to us in a can or a box or via a plane from Chile. I’m never going to give up my canned San Marzanos, my citrus or Sicilian olive oil, spices or coffee or pancetta or dried porcini mushrooms, but we do enjoy taking advantage of what grows or is produced regionally. And summer fruits and veggies are so gorgeous now, I can’t help but make them the centerpiece of our meals sometimes!

    We try to strike a balance. My husband and I both have health issues in our families that mean we have to pay attention to what we eat – neither of us wants to end up on medication or unable to enjoy the food and drink we love – but we don’t deny ourselves, either. We eat a bit lighter during the week so we can have bacon and eggs, burgers and fries, and juicy grilled steaks topped with gorgonzola or herb butter and homemade onion rings on the weekends.

    Thanks again for your comments and explanation, and I hope you’ll stick around and keep reading.

Comments are closed.