This week’s harvest confirms that cherries and lettuce are clearly the staples of this summer’s bounty. This is fine with me. The cherries grow more succulent each week and I have recently been hit by some creative inspiration for lunch salads (marinated flank steak, anyone?). I am a little wary that we are already receiving large quantities of zucchini (the garden gift that never. stops. giving.) – this seems indicative of a long summer of stir-frys, vegetarian pastas, quick breads and unsolicited donations to friends and co-workers. Shelling peas are always a welcome addition to the bunch, as they are delicious cooked or fresh out of the pod and, importantly, extremely photogenic.
The big excitement of this week’s panier was the fresh garlic. Mellower and more fragrant than the usual dried garlic in everyone’s pantry, these bulbs need to be refrigerated and used relatively quickly (thanks to Chocolate & Zucchini for the information, and beautiful photo).
One of the most frequent questions I get about the weekly panier is if it is just too much food for one person. I find that the answer depends on the season. In the winter, the apples, potatoes and leeks keep quite well and can be used over time without much worry of wasting food. However, in the spring and summer, the more fragile greens and perfectly ripened fruit have a limited shelf life. To get around this and have an excuse to spend more time with a great group of friends, I have been begun a weekly “Panier Purge” dinner. With the support of my friends and the inspiration from each week’s delivery, I find that for the first time, I am starting to play with ingredients and create meals without following a recipe word-for-word. That seems like progress in my book.
This week, the obvious theme was ‘green’. We made a spring risotto with lardon, zucchini, peas, fresh garlic and basil, lemon, and mascarpone, as well as a bountiful salad. I did have a very meta moment when I stepped away to refer to Camille’s excellent risotto tutorial while she was busy chatting with the others in the kitchen. Life has been crazy as of late – overwhelming work schedules, back-to-back visitors – with very few moments to slow down and take it all in. Do not get me wrong, this is not a complaint; when I say crazy, I mostly mean crazy wonderful.
However, I was reminded last night, surrounded by these vibrant, intelligent women whom I admire so, how lucky I am to be sharing these experiences with them. Especially when these moments come with clafoutis, fresh from the oven, and a sweet rosé for dessert. Ruth Reichl summed it up perfectly, “Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”