Favourite vegetable? Depends on the season. Right now, as summer sails serenely into the bloom of early middle age, I’m enjoying:
• eggplant brushed with garlic-infused olive oil on the outdoor grill at sunset;
• zucchini done the same way;
• warm salad of sweet potato, toasted macadamias and snipped coriander;
• silverbeet cooked with aromatic fenugreek (dried) with a touch of yogurt and chilli flakes swirled through;
• potato salad with spring onion and crisped prosciutto tossed over the top;
• asparagus not much more than merely blanched then rolled in cracked pepper and dipped in orange-flavoured mayonnaise - snap! crack! zing!; and
• Brussels sprouts tossed with butter, pine nuts and chopped chili peppers.
Not all at once, of course.
Another favourite vegetable is the one that looks like a cross between a duckling and a flying saucer: the yellow button squash.
Pasta with vine-ripened tomatoes and button squash
Trim and quarter six button squash. (Choose squash that are medium size and have no wrinkles. My completely non-professional approach to testing button squash freshness is that they should squeak when you handle them!)
Chop six medium very fresh vine-ripened tomatoes into twelfths. Chop an onion into fine rings. Peel and score a garlic clove.
Cook pasta. Try spaghetti rigati or alla chitarra but any long pasta will do. When pasta is almost done, drop in button squash segments. They’ll take a minute or two.
Meanwhile, cook onions, tomato segments and garlic in olive oil and a dash of white wine on very low heat in a covered pan. You want the tomatoes to practically melt, not cook; gradually giving up their juice while roughly holding their shape, eventually to collapse like little tents on top of the pasta when served. Only the very best flavoursome tomatoes should be used. If you have only the billiard ball quality ones, send out for pizza. Add more wine to pan if necessary.
When pasta and squash are ready, drain and carefully add to pan with tomatoes. Do not stir, but place large serving plate over the top, quickly invert and remove pan to reveal tomatoes resting on the pasta and squash. Top with finely chopped basil, cracked pepper and parmesan cheese. Serve outside in the late evening with a glass of chilled wine. Or beer. It's been very hot these past few nights.