There have been several disparate themes mulling around vying for attention as my focus for 2013. I’ve been thinking about packaging, and the processing that goes into making food that can be bundled up in triple layers of plastic and cardboard to survive the ordeal of trial by retail, and I’ve considered making 2013 the year of no packaging.
I’ve also been thinking about community, and how sharing food is so central to caring and nurturing and creating the relationships that hold in good times and bad, and I’ve considered making 2013 the year of parties (and barbeques and picnics and potlucks) – treat food that isn’t quite junk food.
And I’ve been thinking about the conversation that is surfacing in permaculture circles lately about the misconception that permaculture is about self-sufficiency. The three ethics of permaculture are care for the earth, care for people and share fairly. The first two are easy to understand, if not always to do. The last is a bit more opaque. It’s a mixture of the standard care-giver axiom that before you can care for anyone or anything else, you need to take care of yourself, with a warning that hoarding takes you backwards. And it’s led me to thinking about a glut of tromboncino (again) and the realtive merits of preserving them, versus offloading them in the mailbox at the corner, versus turning them into party food to share.
Then last night I made this platter for dinner, and the three themes merged in it. At least once a week, most weeks, dinner for us is a platter to share, in these hot summer days on the verandah watching the sunset with a cold beer to go with it. Most weeks too, there is some occasion to share food with others – family, friends, community. I thought I might share with you a platter each week, party food for just the household or to share, based on what is fresh, in season, and in glut.
So here’s the first of 50 platters. (I wonder what I have taken on!)
Served with Seedy Sourdough Crispbread triangles, there’s
- sliced fresh cherry tomatoes and cucumber
- olives from last year’s crop
- snake beans now in glut, cut into finger food lengths, blanched, and dressed while hot with a simple balsamic-olive oil-tamari-garlic-honey dressing (we can eat an awful lot of snake beans like this)
- labneh balls rolled in dukkah – just strained greek yoghurt, rolled into balls in oiled hands, then rolled in dukkah
- hot mango and tomato chutney made with our ripening glut crop of mangoes
- Lebanese Marinated Zucchini et al made with the now officially in glut tromboncino, and eggplants just because they are so good in it.
- garlic white bean paste made with the first of the season’s mature Blue Lake beans.
Recipe – Garlic White Bean Paste:
Soak the beans and cook them. I used my Blue Lakes, but cannellini beans work fine too. Bean Basics has the details about cooking dried beans if you are not used to it. The quick method is to use fresh beans, bring to the boil in water, soak for half an hour (or all day), change the water, add salt, then boil for half an hour or so, or pressure cook for 10 minutes or less.
Drain the beans and save a little of the cooking water. Blend them with some garlic, a couple of spoonfuls of good olive oil, and enough of the water to make the right consistency. Taste and add some salt if it needs it – beans need a bit of salt.
This makes a smooth, fluffy, spreadable paste that is perfect as a base for other ingredients. Spread on a biscuit or toast and top with as many of the platter ingredients as you can fit. Or take to a party as a dip with biscuits or crudites.