one local supper- july 23

This was an almost all-farmers-market meal. Vegetable and venison-summer sausage ragu over hollowed-out baby Japanese eggplants on a bed of goat-cheese stone ground grits. Purple cabbage and julienned yellow zucchini slaw, dressed in homemade yogurt-goat feta dressing. All of the vegetables in the ragu (and the stunning red zinnias!) are from my favorite farmers, Jill and Keith Forrester of Whitton Flower and Produce. Cabbage was from Dodson Farms, also located in East Arkansas. Grits come from the Grit Girl.

This morning I got up with the sun and blew $40 in 10 minutes. 2 dozen eggs, goat feta, and soft goat cheese, 6 lb of ladypeas (more on that later in the week) to share and freeze, more baby eggplants, Arkansas Traveler tomatoes, and a bare-root basil to use, trim, plant, and hope for more.

I told Keith about this meal this morning, and in his honor, I'll share the ragu recipe:

-1 big chopped tomato
-2 small green onions (his are purple and white!), greens and bulb chopped -reserve some greens for garnish
-4 baby eggplant, halved, hollowed, and flesh chopped
-1 yellow zucchini and 1 green zucchini, dice (the squares make a nice texture contrast)
-1 clove garlic
-handful of corn kernels (left over from earlier in the week- these may have come from Whitton Flowers, or from another vendor. I bought them some time ago and forgot about it!)
-diced venison summer sausage (or other smoked sausage- this is what I have from my dad's deer camp- it is both free and local)
-marjoram and basil to taste

Slick a saute pan with olive oil, add tomatoes, eggplant, and onions (garlic, too, if you want) and cook for a bit until they start to break down. Add a bit of water or stock to make it saucy. Add corn, zucchini, and fresh herbs shortly before you're ready to plate everything up and/or bake, so that they're still more firm than soft and the herbs still have a fresh flavor.

I cooked cheese grits with goat cheese, pre-cooked the eggplant shells for a few minutes, then layered grits, eggplant shells, and some of the ragu. Sprinkle with goat cheese, bake at 350 for 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle with reserved green onions before serving.

But wait, you say, isn't this a pottery blog? The casserole dish to the right is one of my first ones, from 2001, I think. I use it all the time- a big deep-dish pie plate. The dish that the saw is in is a vintage pottery piece- a miniature covered casserole decorated with pussy willow stems. I bought it at a garage sale for 50 cents and discovered that my boss at the Brooks has a full set! It's from New England and was mass-produced from the 50s until the 70s, perhaps.

Happy Saturday!