Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Dish to the Rescue

Lately it feels like if I'm not making ice cream, I'm trying to figure out what to do with huge quantities of fresh vegetables. Not that either of these situations are a problem. But last night I was starting to panic about the number of bags of veggies in the fridge. Andrew's mom was down the weekend before last, and she brought a bounty from her garden. I roasted beets, baked zucchini bread, and ate the broccoli and green peppers--both so green they barely resembled the stuff they sell at Gristede's--raw with hummus. But still there remained yellow summer squash, more peppers and green beans. Salvation arrived yesterday, in the form of The Dish, Food & Wine's weekly e-mail. Subject line: "10+ Delicious August Vegetable Dishes." Yes.

Yellow Squash Soup with Scallion Salad is a delicious summer soup, hot but refreshing, with a nice tang from buttermilk. The presentation is lovely; you ladle the sweet, yellow pureed soup into bowls, scatter a "salad" of cooked and raw chopped veggies in the middle, and add a few bits of fried cheese to the side. I was nervous about this being filling enough for dinner, but both Fork and I were happily stuffed.

I made a few changes to the recipe, based on the veggies I had in my fridge. Instead of just grilling scallions, I added sliced onions, too. I subbed chopped blanched green beans and chopped green peppers for tomatoes and cucumber. And in place of tarragon and parsley, I used cilantro and chives. I did, however, stick with the recipe's suggestion for manchego in the "fricos," little fried cheese crisps. They added the perfect salty crunch. Yes, making this dish put a serious and much needed dent in the crisper drawer. But it also resulted in a great dinner and new summer soup to add to my repertoire.--S

Yellow Squash Soup with Scallion Salad

1 T unsalted butter
1 lb. small yellow squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 fresh bay leaves [I used one dried]
1 1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 c water
6 scallions, white and tender green parts only
1 T plus 1 t extra-virgin olive oil
1 c buttermilk
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
3/4 c finely grated Manchego cheese (2 ounces)
1 c grape tomatoes, quartered
1 T minced tarragon
1 T minced flat-leaf parsley
1/4 c finely diced peeled cucumber
1 t lemon juice

1. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the yellow squash and bay leaves and cook over moderate heat for 8 minutes. Add the broth and water and bring to a boil. Simmer just until the squash is tender.
2. Meanwhile, preheat a grill pan. Rub the scallions with 1 teaspoon of the oil and grill over high heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, 5 minutes. Let cool, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Transfer the squash and 1/2 cup of the broth to a blender and discard the bay leaves. [I left the squash in the pot, removed all but a 1/2 c of broth, and pureed it using an immersion blender.] Puree the soup and blend in the buttermilk. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm or refrigerate until cold.
4. Heat a nonstick skillet over moderate heat. Spoon twelve 2-inch-wide mounds of the Manchego into the skillet; cook over moderate heat until browned on the bottom. Off the heat, flip the cheese crisps. Return to the heat and cook until browned. Transfer the crisps to a rack and let cool.
5. Add the tomatoes, tarragon, parsley, cucumber, lemon juice and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the scallions and toss. Season the salad with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the scallion salad. Serve the soup warm or chilled with the cheese crisps.

Recipe courtesy of Food & Wine

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