Put down that shopping list and improvise!
Elbrich Fennema | September 2011 Issue
There was a time when a recipe didn’t begin with a shopping list, but with what you had picked or caught yourself. A little later, we started with what grew in our own kitchen gardens or fields. Supply determined what meal ended up on the dinner table.
This has all changed phenomenally in recent years. Grocery store managers try to stock what we have on our shopping lists. Since they can’t guess what we need, they fill the shelves with an enormous volume of goods in the hope that there will be something there we might want. The result is a garbage heap of food that has been produced for nothing and no one in particular.
Fortunately, flexible recipes are available. These don’t require that specific goat cheese, wild mushroom or special herb. Take salsa verde, for example. You only need green leaves, not some mysterious ratio of basil to mint and flat parsley. All green leaves will work, whether it’s arugula picked in the urban garden, weeds from the backyard—such as young ground elder—or what is growing in the window box, like nasturtium or chervil.
Take four handfuls of greens and chop them finely. Do this in a mortar and cover it with olive oil. Add a finely chopped garlic clove, a tablespoon of capers, a tablespoon of mustard, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and some salt. Mix the sauce until it’s smooth and add more of any of these ingredients to taste. This is a delicious homemade sauce to serve with grilled vegetables, pasta or salad. As we know, the kitchen garden, the farmers’ market and the grocery store have an abundance of options that will taste great with it. No shopping list required.