Grill It, Roast It, Smoke It

And just like that, September is here. Long before I’m ready for summer to be over, the month that signals the start of fall rolls in. But even though a few of August’s garden-fresh favorites are finished for the season, September’s list of harvestable fruits and vegetables is the longest of year, with the last of the summer beans, berries, and corn bumping up against the first of the fall greens, plums, and winter squash.

If August is the month for enjoying fresh fruit and veg, September is the month for adding a bit of charred, caramelized, and smoky flavor to the produce on the table. We’ll be grilling, roasting, and smoking all month at Twice as Tasty—mostly thanks to some incredible response from recent Twice as Tasty workshops.

Although my September schedule is quickly filling up, it’s not too late to get in on the current lineup or featured workshops locally. And Twice as Tasty will be on the road again in late October! For more details, click here.
Read more about grilling, roasting, and smoking

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Tomatillos

If you’re a gardener, you likely end your season with a rack of green tomatoes and a quest to find a way to use them. Sorry, but this is not that recipe. I gave up on green tomato salsas several years ago—the vinegar required to make the salsa shelf stable when water-bath canning has always seemed overpowering.

Instead, I fell for the lovely green lanterns that grow into tomatillos, the traditional base for salsa verde. These little husked fruits clock in at pH 3.83, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, well below the safe level for water-bath canning. The added acid simply covers the secondary low-acid vegetables and boosts the flavor.

Tomatillos are as easy to grow as tomatoes; just be sure to buy two plants so that they cross-pollinate. Not surprisingly, I prefer them grilled like tomatoes—and have found yet another beverage use for their juice. Learn to make Grilled Tomatillo Salsa and Grilled Tomatillo Margaritas

Tomatoes

Hopefully you were swayed by my argument for grilling vegetables last month. In this week’s recipes, the grilled flavor shines. The salsa has evolved over the years from fresh to roasted and finally to grilled. We get more compliments for it than for anything else we process, and no matter how much we put up each year, our stash barely lasts to the next canning season.

The grilling creates intense flavor, but it also lets you stretch out the process to suit both your harvest and your schedule. We harvest and grill the ingredients as they come ripe, separating the tomato juice and solids. Then we stash everything in the freezer until we have enough for at least one full canner batch. It’s also a fabulous recipe for a canning party, particularly when paired with a tasty beverage to celebrate your hard work. Learn to make Grilled Tomato Chipotle Salsa and Grilled Tomato Bloody Mary Mix

Rhubarb

I grew up in a rhubarb family: large patches growing in my dad’s and grandpa’s gardens, rhubarb pie at Thanksgiving (never diluted with strawberries), and a stash of rhubarb sauce in my mom’s fridge that I put on everything from ice cream to Cheerios. Among the first things I planted when I moved to Montana were rhubarb eyes taken from my dad’s plants; they’ve since spread out into a garden patch that produces all summer long and never bolts—one of the few perks of gardening in the shady woods.

After a winter of playing with various combinations of produce-influenced cocktails that put a splash of summer into the grayest day, I instantly saw “beverage” when I cut my first stalks of rhubarb in spring. The straight rhubarb needed another flavor to balance the bright pink syrup, and I knew from making sorbet that rosemary would add just the right touch in a summer cocktail. Learn to make Rhubarb–Rosemary Syrup and Rhubarb–Orange–Ginger Marmalade