Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not Guilty!

All summer long, I have suffered from Vegetable Guilt.  It happens like this: it's one of those rare days when the mercury falls short of 90 degrees.  The farmer's market is in town.  I show up, and tempted by all the spanking fresh produce, I load up my basket.  No sooner do I get it home when I learn the forecast calls for eight days in a row of "unseasonably warm" temperatures. 

What to do when each day seems more stupefyingly hot than the one before? When you are still wiping away sweat at 10 p.m.? When the kitchen reaches inferno-like temperatures by mid-afternoon, and the thought of turning on even a burner at dinntertime is as appealing as belly flopping into a pool of lava?  Order Chinese, of course, and try to ignore the faint cries coming from the direction of the vegetable bin.  The droopy carrots, wrinkled beans, limp lettuce, and softening shallots are clamoring for your attention and all you can do is eat an egg roll? 

Well, not this time.  For the past week, a small bunch of rainbow chard had been accusing me of neglect every time I opened the refrigerator door.  It was a balmy 82 degrees and overcast, and I could actually imagine turning on the oven.  I would make potato and swiss chard enchiladas, the most ambitious project I had tackled in weeks. 

The homemade enchilada sauce was startlingly delicious, and by far the best part of this dish.  It was really easy to make, too.  My Dad had foisted four pounds of ripe-to-bursting tomatoes from his garden on me (no Vegetable Guilt for him!).   I chose two of the largest from the windowsill, split them in half, and broiled them, along with some garlic, until slightly charred.  Then, into the blender they went with a large chipotle pepper.  A little salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and that was it.  This was a sweet and smoky concoction that would also make a great smooth salsa for chips. 

Tomato Chipotle Sauce

2 large tomatoes
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 large chipotle pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Core the tomatoes and cut them in half.  Put the tomatoes, cut side down, along with the garlic cloves, on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.  Broil for about five minutes, or until lightly charred.  Put the tomato halves, garlic cloves, and chipotle pepper in a blender and puree until smooth.  Add salt to taste and a drizzle of olive oil.