This is basically how I cook every day – I shop at the farmers’ market like it’s a religion – but living in Northern California means so much great stuff is in season for a long time, even during this drought. Still, things do come and go. The end of summer tends to have beautiful tomatoes and squash, along with lovely greens, onions, and root vegetables, and all of these are among my favorite things.
To shake things up a little, I wanted to try some new things:
Wild fried rice with roasted delicata squash and beets (+ onion, shallot, cilantro, red pepper flakes)
Cherry tomato chutney (with shallots and apple cider vinegar) over baked tofu
Steamed kale, because greens are a requirement
I’ll have to make the chutney again–it was easy and delicious.
Or…OK, the most retro recipe I can make that doesn’t completely repulse me and/or my boyfriend.
I went with meatloaf because everything about it feels very vintage Home Ec class. Admittedly, it’s not the kind of thing that I have fond memories of eating, but it’s simple enough to put together, and the Oh She Glows recipe pics made it look damn near enticing. Plus, boyfriend’s having a moment over black lentils, so I’d just cooked a huge batch. Seemed like fate.
The loaf I made and cooked about ¾ of the way two days ago–figured I could whip up the glaze and pop it back in the oven to finish while I prepped the sides. What meatloaf-based retro dinner doesn’t have sides? But again, I gotta balance the theme with our actual life/dietary needs and preferences, and I didn’t want to just make mashed potatoes. I went for some things that look beautiful at the market lately: winter squash and green beans.
As a kid, my mom always cooked acorn squash as a side by cutting it in half, scooping out the guts, and baking it with a pat of butter and spoonful of brown sugar. It made me learn to love squash, and while I don’t need to add sugar now, the preparation sounded like a good one to fit the “vintage” theme. I went with a delicata squash, which has flat sides and thinner flesh that lends itself to cooking that way. And, it turns out, this method pops up repeatedly in cookbooks from the early 20th century and beyond! Soooo retro.
Finally, green beans. Not green bean casserole; too processed and gross. But some simple preparation. One of these recipes that calls for half a stick of butter plus some kind of spice or herb. It seems there are a lot of these. Butter is easy enough to sub; I have a lot of herbs just taking up space in my fridge. No-brainer.
How was it?
I hate celery; boyfriend hates raisins. The lentil loaf featured both. But you know what? Pretty good. I also added some big fat slices of tomato with salt – it was in the high 90s today, temperature-wise, and I really needed something cool. The colors are good, and the textural and flavor contrasts work for me. Overall, the plate felt like some kind of weeknight dinner at a home with a decent garden (am I overreaching to say a Victory garden? probably)–homegrown veggies to fill in with a meaty main. And ketchup.