(Sasha here, making a cameo appearance as guest blogger. Thanks, Cynthia! A new experience for me.)

A real tomato. After a long stretch without any fresh tomatoes, I had yellow and red cherry tomatoes from Cynthia's Sola Gratia share today. Bliss! The other veggies were 'real', too. Cukes, zukes and summer squash. Collard greens, carrots with the greens still on them. Green beans and wax beans. And two glorious yellow tomatoes, as yet untouched. I'm saving them until I can get some fresh parsley. Slice 'em thick and top with a decent vinaigrette. Or an indecent vinaigrette will do, in a pinch. My mom used Good Seasons, classic style. No one ever complained. The tomatoes were happy, and so were we.

Growing up on Elm Boulevard in Champaign, we were one of only a few families on the block without a kitchen garden. I remember answering the doorbell to find a box with zucchini and giant beefsteak tomatoes. I could just see my neighbor, Mrs. Patterson, scurrying back to her house at warp speed. I tried to thank her, but she wouldn't acknowledge me. I guess she was too worried we'd make her take back the veggies. Stealth veggies of mysterious origins were not unusual. 

So, thank you, Cynthia and Ernie, thank you for the box of not-so-stealthy veggies. Wishing you safe travels! And hoping those tiny delicious blueberries are plentiful and ripe. And thank you to Dex and all the good folks at Sola Gratia. So happy for all the good food you're donating to our community.

Later today I'll use my mandoline to slice summer squash and zucchini into 'chips'. Spritz with olive oil, put them on non-stick Sil-Pat mat on a cookie sheet in a low oven, 250 degrees. A side note: I recommend getting a cut-resistant glove for use with a mandoline. Looks a little like chain mail. Add a few rhinestones and you're Michael Jackson. Shades of Owen, or Owen-as-he-was-several-years-back.

One final comment, re: Sola Gratia. I'm going through beet withdrawal. Alas, beet season must be behind us, no more beets this week. I grew up hating beets, or so I thought. Those overly sweet, just-this-side-of-mushy beets you see at salad bars, abandoned and disdained by almost everyone. Hated 'em. Several years ago in Chicago, a friend served fresh beets. Earthy with a terrific texture, and a nice musty flavor, too. A revelation. The color is piercing in its magenta-tude. They slip out of their nubby skins and emerge slippery and, well, cute. I try not to obsess over food, too busy to bother, even if I had the time. But cooking beets is a worthwhile sensory experience. Boil in water with vinegar, add salt and real butter. Et voilá. And your fingertips turn purple. You can pretend you're Sweeney Todd. Or maybe not.

Have fun, and enjoy!

6 thoughts on “Stealth Veggies, aka Sola Gratia Week #9

  1. Great column, Sasha.
    Another nice way to cook beets is to roast them. You can vary the temp and roasting (everyone has a different idea about this) but I usually roast cut up beets for about an hour at 350-400. All I add is some olive oil, salt and pepper. They kind of caramelize when cooked this way. This is my favorite way to cook beets.

  2. This is the first year that I have been cooking the beet greens. Wow are they good! Can’t believe what I had been missing.