Saturday, August 23, 2008

Assistant Avi Steps Out From the Shadows…

...and up to the cutting board.

One of the things you should expect to receive if you get a CSA share - in addition to a couple of sacks of fresh-from-the-soil fruits and vegetables each week – is a good hearty sense of guilt when a) your goods go bad before you get around to using them or b) you eat a meal that is comprised completely of non-CSA share items. That’s why, when asked to make dinner by your girlfriend, you desperately scrounge for ideas to utilize the freakishly small watermelon and two strangely small and flat bulbs of fennel that sit sadly in your fridge. Luckily, inspiration struck and, having wanted to do a savory watermelon item for a while (since it is actually a relative of the squash – look it up!), I whipped up the following tasty watermelon fennel salsa that looked like this:
Kind of tricks the eye how it looks like tomato and onion, but you eat it and…Jesus Christ! Is that watermelon? It was so fresh and tasty that Stacey thought I should set it down in perpetuity (at least as long as this here internet thing lasts) for all to read and utilize on the good ole’ Second Dinner blog if Katya would be good enough to allow me, which she did. So….

This is what I used, but you can mess with the proportions, depending on what you have. The flavor is what counts:

1 tiny watermelon (about 2 cups), skinned, chopped, and seeded
1 normal bulb of fennel, finely chopped (I used 2, but they were really small and weirdly flat, so…)
½ of a yellow bell pepper, chopped
Fresh kernels from one corn cob (about ½ cup – I didn’t have to cook them at all, but you can also blanch the kernels in boiling water first or use frozen corn. However, I have to say that the uncooked fresh corn adds a really nice, fresh pop to it)
1 red Holland chili pepper, seeded & chopped
Cilantro, chopped (to taste, but I used maybe a medium handful)
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of ½ lime
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix all of the above ingredients in a bowl. Taste. Does it taste good? No? Add more of something. After getting the right flavor, I gave the mixture a gentle little squeeze, releasing some of the liquid from the watermelon but not breaking it down completely).

We used it to top some nice hake (a tasty and affordable white fish sometimes called whiting), which I seasoned with salt, pepper and a little olive oil and baked in a little tent of foil with lemon and sprigs of thyme at 325 degrees until flaky. That fish looked like this.
Finally, we had some nice potatoes (also of CSA share fame). I seasoned them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh chopped sage leaves and roasted them in the oven at 325 until tender and golden and…damn, I have to go shop for more potatoes. Look at them!
As you might have guessed, I was really happy with this meal. Seriously. Really happy. Ask Stacey. I think she wants to slap me. I won’t shut up about it.

Ok. Thanks, Katya. You can have your blog back now.

Thanks Avi. That sounds incredible. The other thing that CSA shares sometimes make you do is go out and buy a whole additional pile of groceries just so that you can have that perfect meal that someone else's CSA share provided. I'll be making that salsa as soon as I get my hands on some watermelon and corn, and maybe white fish. But for now, I have an appointment with some wilting basil and too many peppers. One step ahead of the guilt.

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