Schell: Celebrate each delicacy as it ripens
Summertime offers up so many fabulous and easy dishes to make utilizing our local bounty. It is so fun to track the seasonal produce through the local markets and fruit and vegetables stands and then create dishes to celebrate each of their debuts.
I hope that you have all been enjoying the fresh greens on the scene? Big salads with chopped fresh local strawberries, goat cheese and walnuts is one of my favourites. Don’t forget to preserve these beautiful berries through jams or freezing.
Hallelujah, local potatoes have arrived. These buttery little gems are so versatile and delicious we could almost eat them every single night.
I love to make a big tin foil package with halved new potatoes, sliced local onions and then a variation of whatever I have on hand—red peppers, a quartered organic lemon, fennel bulb, sliced portobello, baby carrots, etc. Toss together with some olive oil, salt and pepper, wrap tightly and then cook on the barbecue until potatoes are tender and some are caramelized on the bottom. Delicious.
I love to create pasta dishes with whatever’s in the larder. This time of year makes these creations extra easy, especially with the local herbs available in the garden.
Mince some onion, chop some garlic, slice some mushrooms and sauté in some olive oil briefly. Quarter or halve cherry tomatoes and halve a handful of black olives, add to the mix and sauté a couple more minutes. Add the zest of one organic lemon, a tbsp of capers, a handful of arugula and some chopped fresh basil and parsley. Toss with pasta and top with fresh grated Parmesan. Fabulous. Be creative with additions, taste as you go and don’t overcook—fresh tomato sauces are a delight.
Fresh peas and mint are a match made in culinary heaven. I like to make a batch of quinoa and then toss it together with sautéed peas and mint. Start by mincing some onion and shelling your peas. Heat a small dollop of butter with matching amount of olive oil and gently start sautéing the onion until translucent. Add peas and sauté just a couple more minutes—you want them to stay plump. Pour over quinoa, toss with the zest of one organic lemon and a handful of chopped fresh mint and Maldon sea salt to taste. Serve warm or cold—leftovers are scrumptious too.
There are two very special wine dinners coming up at one of our wine country’s most spectacular view wineries. Start with a tour of the estate herb garden and then share a meal between the rows of grapes paired with a special selection of Quails’ Gate wines.
When: Sunday, July 10 or Sunday, Aug. 14
Place: Quails’ Gate Winery
Time: 5 p.m.
Cost: $130 per person (all inclusive)
Please RSVP to Julia Garner at email@example.com or call 250-769-2514
Seating is limited.
Jennifer Schell is editor of B.C. Wine Trails Magazine.