Saturday, August 05, 2006

No Farmer, I – Weekend Herb Blogging

The Man Born to Farming - Wendell Berry

The Grower of Trees, the gardener, the man born to farming,
whose hands reach into the ground and sprout
to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death
yearly, and comes back rejoicing. He has seen the light lie down
in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.
His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.
What miraculous seed has he swallowed
That the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth
Like a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water
Descending in the dark?



No farmer, I. Poetically speaking.

Wendell was obviously talking about someone else. That’s for sure.



A month or so ago, I mentioned we had found a rouge tomato plant struggling for existence in a corner of the backyard. Well, we started watering it a bit more regularly. And paid it some attention. I cannot say that this was necessarily to the plant’s clear advantage.

But we eventually got these tiny tomatoes. Thirteen exquisitely red tiny orbs of flavor. Excluding the few that were somehow already mushy on the vine. This represents the entire harvest for the year, as the recent heat wave basically fried the plant, and revival seems unlikely.

This naturally sounds absurd to the many of you reading this who are actual farmers or gardeners, and who have the ability to nurture plants such that they produce a more substantial bounty.

But I make no claims to be able to grow things. Mainly to eat them.

None the less, we were pretty happy to actually get a few tomatoes to a point that they seemed edible.

And aside from the rain of pollution falling from the sky onto our backyard, they are basically organic. Of course, the dog has free reign of the yard, but, still, organic.

They don’t seem like cherry tomatoes, as they are too small, more like the so-called grape tomatoes. Just a half an inch in diameter. But tasty. Not overly sweet, maybe a tad on the acidic side. A balanced flavor.

And with 13 of them, it was a real quandary what to do with them.



We decided on a simple summer risotto. One with roasted tomatoes, roasted eggplant, and some thyme and savory to highlight the flavor of the tomatoes. For this edition of , sponsored this week by Christa of .

Of course, we had to augment our tiny treasures with some store bought grape tomatoes. I think they were happy for the company!




Summer Savory Tomato Risotto with Roasted Eggplant
Recipe by surfindaave
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
2 pints grape tomatoes, washed and cut in half
3-4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped roughly
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
4 small Italian eggplants, sliced
1 onion,
700 grams Arborio rice
2 tbsp rice vinegar
8 cups chicken broth, heated to a boil, and kept hot
½ cup parsley, chopped
1 cup Pecorino cheese, grated
2 tbsp savory, chopped
salt, pepper
Parsley, chopped, for garnish
Pecorino cheese, grated for garnish

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Set eggplant slices in a colander over paper towels. Sprinkle liberally on both sides with salt. Let sit for one hour.

Toss the tomatoes with the thyme, garlic and olive oil in a baking dish that holds them in a single layer. Roast the tomatoes for 30 to 40 minutes, until they are browned in places. Remove from oven and reserve.

Wipe salt from eggplant slices with a paper towel. Brush slices with olive oil. Set on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Cut into cubes. Reserve.

In a large heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sautee onion until softened. Increase heat to high, and add rice. Cook rice, stirring, until it becomes translucent. Reduce heat to medium, and add ½ cup of chicken stock and rice vinegar, stirring. As broth is absorbed, continue to add additional broth ½ cup at a time, stirring. When most of broth has been used, stir in about 2/3s of the tomatoes, the cheese, and the parsley. Continue to add broth and cook until rice is done (al dente). Stir in savory. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in bowls, sprinkled with additional roasted tomatoes and the roasted eggplant cubes. Sprinkle with additional parsley and cheese, if desired. Serve. Enjoy!


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3 Comments:

Blogger Kalyn said...

I really love the poem. Next year I think you should buy a couple of tomato plants and actually try to grow some. They're really not that hard to grow at all. Just be sure not to water too much after the tomatoes are getting big, or they'll be watery tasting. Plus, don't report me to the organic garden police, but I do use a type of fertilizer that encourages more blooms, therefore more tomatoes. This year I have 13 plants (one was a volunteer like yours) and hundreds of tomatoes.

I like what you created from the tomatoes.

4:50 AM  
Blogger surfindaave said...

Kalyn,

Thanks for the encouragement! Since we've never kept a plant in the house alive more than a year, it is more a moral dilemma ;) But we could give it a try, especially as we seem more than a little obsessed with them!

8:22 AM  
Anonymous coffeepot said...

The risotto looks lovely!

Don't give up hope on gardening! It is very rewarding at times.

I say at times.. because I ventured into trying to grow eggplant this year and can only say your tomato harvest looks great beside my eggplant.

I do have a ton of tomato.

11:45 AM  

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