If, as someone once remarked, August is the Sunday of summer, it’s a sure bet your Sunday was fast and furious. Remember Nat King Cole’s lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer? Here in the West, we’ve had crazy hazy days because of our 76 forest fires (latest figure). Last Wednesday, on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park, I drove through Colorado’s Byers Canyon 568-acre fire. A surreal moment. The canyon was open but with fires burning and smoke spouting while helicopters dumped water on hot spots. Instructed not to stop, I slowly passed through this charred 8 mile-gorge on the upper Colorado River.
My take-away from this experience? Every time you encounter firefighters, thank them profusely.
The month’s ending translates not only to re-visiting Mother Nature but also to my monthly Cottage Cooking Club post when we share vegetarian recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg cookbook. This month I made a delicious Green Lentil & Honey-roasted Cherry Tomato Salad, a unique (to me, at least) Stuffed Pepper with New Potatoes, Feta & Pesto and, for our cool mountain evenings, Cannellini, Spinach & Porcini Soup.
In addition, I spent the end of August in Rocky Mountain National Park taking classes offered by the Rocky Mountain Conservancy Field Institute. Three of my Forest Conservancy colleagues who are Master Naturalists joined me to take Birds of the Kewuneeche Valley and The Life & Times of Moose. Yep, we love this stuff. Enjoy these pictures from our latest adventure.
Now, to some tasty vegetarian fare. In a word, French green lentils (preferably Le Puy lentils). “These lovely, speckled green lentils are an absolute mainstay of my cooking,” Hugh writes. “They get their distinctive earthy flavor from the volcanic soils around Puy in the Auvergne region of France. Their firm, nutty texture makes them great for adding to salads or jumbling up with all manner of companions.”
I chose to toss my warm lentils with honey-roasted cherry tomatoes and a handful of arugula topped with Parmesan shavings (Not sure that extra flavoring and calories of cheese is needed.) For the honey-roasted tomatoes, if you remember from a recent post, just halve cherry tomatoes and place them snugly, cut side up, in a lightly oiled dish. Crush 2 garlic cloves, 1 TBS honey with 3 TBS olive oil and mash together. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour over tomatoes and roast at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. I also tried this same recipe the next day using leftover cold lentils. Very tasty.
Once you become enamored with French green lentils, you’ll want to dive deeper into Lentil Land, a healthy place to spend your time. Besides Hugh, many other cooks tout this legume and have wonderful lentil recipes to share: Visit Ina, Dorie, David and Martha.
Like me, you probably have stuffed peppers before. My question, did your filling include new potatoes, feta and pesto? In this recipe you get the smoky taste of roasted peppers without the messy peeling. The yummy filling is, well, yummy and filling. Substantial. And, for pesto, I visited my local market. Serve these with a green salad and artisan bread. May I suggest this dish begs for a nice glass of crisp wine?
Since I’m quite sure most of you readers are not lusting for soup right now, I’ll save my lovely Cannellini, Spinach & Porcini Soup with all its variations for a later Post.
AU REVOIR, AUGUST
STUFFED PEPPERS with NEW POTATOES, FETA AND PESTO
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, River Cottage Veg
7 ounces small new potatoes
4 peppers, multi-colored
1 Tbsp olive oil
7 ounces feta cheese
1/4 cup of pesto (I used less)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a pan filled with salted water to to boil, add the new potatoes and boil for 8-12 minutes, until just tender. Drain and cool slightly.
2. Halve the peppers lengthways, removing the seeds and pith but leaving the stem. Brush the outsides with olive oil and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
3. Halve or quarter the new potatoes and place in a bowl. Cut the feta into 1/2 inch cubes and add to the potatoes. Toss both with the pesto until well combined. Salt and pepper to taste.
4. Spoon the filling into the halved peppers and bake for 40-45 minutes until browned on top. Scatter shredded basil over the peppers just before serving, if desired.