A Full Basket


A great way to exult in late summer’s benevolence is to wander the sun-dappled path meandering among the garden’s lushness, losing oneself as the occasional light breeze rustles the leaves and serenades a daydream.  When this reverie doesn’t transport you, you load a basket with anything that looks good.  Of course, by August just about everything stuns, and each twist produces something even better than the last turn.

There are neat rows of scallions, radishes and carrots, with vibrant flashes just emerging into the sunshine beneath swaying canopies.  A bit farther along are exuberant bell pepper plants producing colorful fruit that proclaims solar influence while rewarding diners with a dip in a cool, sparkling stream.  The yellow peppers are nice, and a couple go into the basket.

Finally, are the cucumbers, holding crisp, translucent flesh that provide the ultimate in August refreshment.  A beautiful basket, loaded with rainbow of colorful goodness.  How to make best use of it all?

Fortunately, Bon Appetit had a good idea in its 2014 recipe collection: julienne the vegetables, marinate them in a light, flavorful dressing, then toss them with hearty Japanese soba (buckwheat) noodles and top it all with sesame seeds and cilantro.  Thus, you have Cold Sesame Noodles with Summer Vegetables, a vibrant, refreshing way to celebrate the home gardener’s art.  Fittingly, it’s vegetarian too.

Want to make the basket’s contents as pleasing to the taste buds as they are to the eye?   Try this quick, easy, flavorful combination that’s beautiful for a late summer lunch or light dinner.  This is why we’ve been at this since March, cultivating and coaxing plants to reach this perfection.

*****

Cold Sesame Noodles with Summer Vegetables

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha, or other Asian hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 8 cups mixed fresh vegetables, cut into matchsticks
  • salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles, or vermicelli
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

In a large bowl, whisk the first four ingredients.  Add the vegetables, toss to coat and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Place a large saucepan containing salted water over a medium-high flame.  When water begins to boil, add the dried noodles.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles just begin to get tender, about ten minutes.  Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse with cold water.

Toss noodles with the vegetables, garnish with cilantro, scallions and sesame seeds, and serve.

 

13 thoughts on “A Full Basket

    1. Thank you, Mia! Cooking’s all about delighting as many of the senses as possible.

      There’s taste – yeah, we covered that one already. The aroma drifting up the stairs is another. The steak’s sizzle takes care of sound. Finally, your creation should look appetizing. This once, image is everything (or is vital, at least).

      Anyone can glop a gray something onto a plate – what is this, East Germany? – but striving for something more takes sensitivity, and calls on creativity, if any is at hand.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Your thoughts are most welcome, JoAnn!

      This week’s offering is not just healthy, but I hope it’s lighter too. A fond desire as we endure the dog days. We endure and, with luck, we exult.

      Plus, the garden’s getting a little out-of-hand in late summer. Problem solved.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Grateful for the regard, Jenn!

      A saying springs to mind about eating with our eyes first. A cliché, yes, but clichés become such for a reason, do they not?

      Plus, it’s high summer. Time to stock up on our dreams and memories now, preparing mental reserves sufficient to see us through to next spring.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Beautifully kind words, Kate, as are your specialty.

      By the way, I’ve sent care packages four times now. On the most recent I wrote, “Austria – KATE” Yes, your name in all capitals.

      They guy at the Post Office tried to tell me you’re somewhere called “Australia.” Yeah right, that even sounds made up. Unfortunately, I lost my temper and raised my voice. Now I’m on some sort of watch list.

      No matter. Care packages are going to keep going to Austria (or is it Argentina? Albania?) until you get something.

      Liked by 1 person

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