With my study schedule here at medical school, I haven't had time to cook much lately. Because I knew earlier in the year that these days would come, I stocked up my freezer with plenty of food for days when cooking wouldn't be an option. I have spicy butternut squash soup, basil and pine nut pesto, some crusty French bread, and goat curry from home (one of my absolute favorite cold weather foods). But sometimes I don't even have the time to put together a warm meal; either I didn't think ahead to defrost the food I want to eat, or I have no rice or pasta in the fridge to eat and I'm too hungry to take the time to cook some. In those moments, I am incredibly grateful for the abundance of fresh fruit I have access to.
Every Tuesday where I live there is a farmer's market. Not only are they a source of great fresh everyday produce, like garlic, potatoes, basil (rooted!), onions, and zucchini, but they also carry some amazing out-of-ordinary products at incredibly affordable prices, such as organic California Brown Turkey figs, local Concord grapes, Flavor Heart pluots, and gorgeous Georgia Muscadine grapes. I had never actually tasted fresh Concord grapes before living next to this market, but the vendors are incredibly friendly about answering questions and allowing customers to sample. Once I tasted one, I was hooked. I've been buying them every single week since then. The Muscadine grapes were also a discovery. They look like small plums or very large grapes, and they burst with a flavor that is akin to lychee and Muscat grapes. As for the pluots, if you haven't heard of them yet, they are hybrids that combine the best qualities of an apricot with those of a plum. The Flavor Heart variety is one of my favorites, partially because it really does have a distinctive heart shape to it, and because its deep purple skin contrasts so beautifully with its pale golden flesh.
With such beautiful produce, it isn't hard to throw together a simple meal in little or no time. Being so fresh, these fruits need no coaxing to shine in all their glory; they are delicious as they are. I eat the figs with clover honey and plain yogurt as an afternoon snack.
The rooted basil I bought two or three weeks ago from the market is now thriving on my window sill. I take some of its leaves and roughly chop them and mix them with a beautiful yellow heirloom tomato I bought to make a simple salad, dressed with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and grapeseed oil.
For a quick lunch today, I washed a bunch of organic roquette (arugula). I became addicted to this spicy green while I was in Paris this summer, and now that I've found it at the markets here, I indulge myself by buying some almost every week. It goes well with chicken, fish, pork, bread and butter... honestly, I can't think of many savory things it wouldn't accompany well. But since today was farmer's market day, I had an abundance of fruit, and so I made a salad with with the Concord grapes, local end-of-season peaches, and Flavor Heart pluots. A little balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and black pepper and my lunch was served.
I haven't just been on a raw foot diet though. As beautiful as the produce is, I am at heart a baker, and I couldn't resist the call to make something sweet with the plums I had on hand. Because I didn't have the time to make an elaborate cake or tart, I went with a classic: clafoutis. I won't be sharing the recipe here yet because I want to take the time to dedicate a real post to it, but here is a teaser of what is to come. It may seem a little bit homely, but trust me, this plum clafoutis is the perfect thing for a night in, curled up on the couch with a book. (Unfortunately for me, that book is a USMLE Step 1 Question Bank)