The Incredible Humbling Power of Agriculture
A humbling harvest day indeed
You know the joke about people who do cross-fit, right? Something like “how do you know if someone does cross-fit…don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” But have you ever seen a cross-fit session? I have. And I totally don’t blame anyone for telling us they do cross-fit. It’s insane!!! If I did anything like that, I’d want to brag about it too! At least I would the first time I was able to complete a session rather than crawl (no way I’d be walking upright) out of there early in tears. I mean, it’s humbling to watch.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the humbling nature of challenging activities. After all, I farm for a living. As I write, the rain pounds down upon an already saturated earth and all those poor sensitive crops outside. Those glorious peppers with all our hopes. Just when you think you’ve got a crop figured out, a new disease/insect/other random problem arrives on the scene, lest you think you were in control.
This is the incredible humbling nature of agriculture. To put you in your infinitesimal place in the grand scheme of the universe and remind you that you are not in control.
But you are in control of your kitchen and we are still harvesting the crops of late summer, so what better time than now for some Robust End of Summer Spaghetti:
Robust end-of-the-summer spaghetti
1 1/2 to 2 pounds eggplant, peeled and sliced a scant 1/2 inch thick
2 red or yellow bell peppers, or one each, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for eggplant
1 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 anchovies, chopped
1/3 cup chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup kalamata or gaeta olives, pitted and chopped 3 TBS capers, rinsed 1 TBS dried oregano sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1 cup grated pecorino romano or parmigiana-reggiano cheese
Preheat the broiler. Brush a sheet pan lightly with oil, arrange the eggplant on it, and brush the tops with more oil. Broil on both sides until browned, 12 to 20 minutes per side. Remove and cut into wide strips. Lightly oil the peppers, then broil, skin side up, until blistered. Stack them on top of one another to steam for 15 minutes, then peel and dice into small squares. Heat the 1/4 cup oil in a Dutch oven. Add the onion, peppers, garlic, anchovies and the parsley. Sauté over medium-high heat until the onion and peppers are softened, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat and add the eggplant, tomatoes, olives, capers, oregano, and 1/2 cup water or juice from the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until don, then drain. Place in a large heated bowl. Present at the table with the vegetables spooned over the top and showered with the cheese and extra parsley. Toss before serving.
Recipe from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison