When summer hits, cooking is too easy.
In our garden on The New Farm, about 90 minutes northwest of Toronto, we grow about an acre of organic vegetables. This year our ex-butcher and now a gardener, Guillermo, has planted about 75 crops and managed them from seed to harvest and everything in between (mostly weeding).
When I make a menu in the summer, the inspiration always comes from the garden. Raw tomatoes, stewed zucchini, grilled fennel, blanched peas, brined carrots. You do not need a crock of pulled pork here, but a nicely charred striploin or roasted chicken fits perfectly. Not that choosing the meat should be an afterthought, it’s just easier.
In a recent meal, I served on the farm, squash flowers were marinated in green garlic and served on flatbread. Cucumbers were compressed, seasoned and topped with thinly shaved picnic ham. Heirloom tomatoes were tossed with wild leek vinaigrette and pea tendrils. Summer squash was marinated and grilled and served with sheep’s feta and scallions; and, almost as the garnish, a beef rib was rubbed and cooked on a spit over burning hardwood. And, of course, every dish was littered with herbs.
When I’m at home, I’ll batch cook a flavourful stew in the winter and eat it over the course of a week. The steaks get stock-piled for these hot summer nights.