As much as I love leafing through food magazines, cookbooks, Internet recipes, and blogs, most of my cooking is improvised. I've accumulated quite a bit of culinary knowledge from twenty years of watching the Food Network and living with top-notch cooks, and now I love nothing more than creating my own recipes with simple, fresh ingredients. I think this is why I am so passionate about produce. I haven't mastered the art of meticulously measured baking, and while I love the challenge of homemade bread and cakes, I love even more that all that precision can be thrown out the window when you're working with a mise en place of fresh vegetables, herbs, good butter, garlic, and salt.
My dad always jokes about the title of the cookbook he's written in his head: First Saute Garlic and Onions, Then... And, honestly, this sums up a majority of his cooking. You can't go wrong with a base of caramelized aromatics, especially when your ingredients are as fresh as they can be. This freedom to build layers of flavor using a few stand-by methods and methods makes experimenting with new tastes and unusual ingredients a little less daunting.
I brought home some gorgeous golden beets and squash blossoms from the farmers' market, and didn't want to batter and fry the latter - like everyone seems to laud as the be-all-end-all of squash blossom dishes. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for dredging and frying, but I didn't want my first experience with the delicate flowers to be masked by flour and egg. I had a bit of Havarti from a great local fromagerie, so I cut a few slices and slipped them inside the cleaned blossoms. I then pan-friend them in a bit of browned butter. The end result - a perfectly gooey blossom with a delicate zucchini flavor. I'm officially a fan.
For the beets, I wanted something fresh, so I grated them and sauteed them with dill, garlic, and onions. A bit of cream finished off the dish, which was creamy and refreshing all at once. Yum! A perfect lunch - 100% local and 100% amazing.
Warm Golden Beet Salad with Dill and Havarti-Stuffed Squash Blossoms
3 small golden beets
1/2 c. sliced red onion
2 cloves garlic
2 T. butter, divided
1 T. fresh, chopped dill
2. T. heavy cream
5 zucchini squash blossoms, de-stemmed and cleaned (check for bugs!)
2 oz. Havarti, sliced into 5 strips
Grate beets using a cheese grater, food processor, or mandolin. Heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Saute onions until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, and continue to cook for another minute. Add grated beets and dill and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cream, cook another minute, and assemble on a plate. Melt remaining butter in saucepan, insert cheese into blossoms and cook each side for a minute. Arrange around beets, garnish with extra dill. Enjoy!