Apparently, I over-planted the nasturtiums this year:


I envisioned small clumps of blooms at each corner of my garden boxes. Instead, I got huge swaths of flowers.

They overtook the rosemary and savory:

nasts with herbs

They choked out the peas and butternut squash:


We did manage to harvest three squash from the patch. The flesh was paler and firmer than what you find in the grocery store. We cut them in cubes and roasted them for chili.

I wish we’d had more. I would have stuffed them.

whole pumpkinRight now I’m spending a lot of time with stuffed sugar pumpkins. I revisited last year’s risotto-stuffed pumpkin recipe and tweaked it. I cleaned out my sugar pumpkin and liberally rubbed its insides with olive oil, salt and pepper. After adding toasted arborio rice to the pumpkin shell, I grated in Gruyere cheese and poured in enough chicken broth to reach the pumpkin’s top. I baked the gourd covered at 350 degrees for 90 minutes, then uncovered it, gave it a stir and baked it an additional 30 minutes.

Perfection. It was delightful with local pears.

pear1Yes, we’re eating a lot of pears right now. I am loving the Seckel pears at my local market. They’re yummy out of hand, but they’re really special roasted alongside sweet potatoes and apples. Cut them in half and toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper and chunks of apples and sweet potatoes. After roasting for 30 or 40 minutes at 400 degrees, the pears turn dark brown and taste like candy.

baked pearsThey’re also amazingly good roasted with butter and maple syrup, a la Melissa Clark’s fabulous recipe in Cook This Now. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter in an oven-proof pan and add halved pears to brown. Pour in 1/3 cup of good maple syrup and a cinnamon stick. Roast at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. The pears emerge tender, burnished and subtly spicy.

Of course, everything is better roasted. I made ratatouille for a client recently and instead of simmering the vegetables in a stew pot, I plopped them on a baking sheet and roasted them at 400 degrees until caramelized:


The roasting brought out a depth of flavor normally missing from this end-of-summer stew. I plan to treat the veggies this way from now on, grilling them if it’s too hot to turn on the oven.

Speaking of heat, we’re having a bit of a warm wave. It’s coaxing some of my tomatoes to ripen (although I still see massive quantities of fried green tomatoes in my future) and convincing me to leave the oven off. Last night, I pounded some boneless chicken thighs into thin rounds and rolled them around wilted kale and shredded mozzarella cheese. I braised them for 30 minutes in a sauce made of San Marzano tomatoes, red and yellow peppers. and kalamata olives:


I wanted to serve my thighs on a bed of mashed potatoes, but I only had four, tiny, white-skinned potatoes in the pantry.

I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge.

I cut up the potatoes and half of the cauliflower, then boiled them together in salted water until tender. I drained them; added butter, milk, salt and pepper; and mashed away.

It was wonderful. (With no sulfur taste!)

I’ll make this dish again, particularly if the temperature stays high.

nas2I kind of hope it does. It’ll keep my nasturtiums blooming: