It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted – sorry! It’s been a crazy few weeks with work travel, fun travel, really hot, humid weather, and a fridge that decided to stop staying cold. But the garden is doing really well – this week we started watering regularly – until now, we’ve had a nice balance of rain and sun. With all those challenges, I haven’t been in the garden nearly as much as Janna. But now that the fridge is fixed, I’m so happy to be able to cook a whole meal again!

Today when cooking dinner, I really focused on using the herbs in the garden that are taking over everything. It’s so hot, that none of us (Janna’s two sisters came for dinner) really had much of an appetite, so variety was more important than volume. And quick cooking is way better than turning on the oven. So I made a Spanish-inspired tapas menu.

First up were ham and chickpea croquettes. Last week when I was traveling in Louisville, Kentucky, I had a great dinner at the 21C Hotel’s restaurant Proof on Main. Beside a remarkable green salad (including some sorrel almost as beautiful as mine), I had the croquette dish, and fell in love. So I knew I had to try to duplicate it at home. I had some leftover ham frozen from Easter, so I used that. It’s a fairly easy recipe that looks like it takes a lot of effort. I love those! Just blend these ingredients together until they form a paste:

Ham and Chickpea Croquettes
1/2 ham, fat and skin removed
1 15-oz. can of chickpeas, skins removed (this is really important: it improves the texture and helps the chickpeas bind the mix)
3 sprigs of thyme
2 tsp. corn starch
1 egg
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cayenne pepper sauce
As litte water as you can get away with

Oil a bread loaf pan, and spread the mixture in it. Refrigerate for an hour, or stick it in the freeze for 20 minutes – it will set up really well. Turn the contents of the pan out, and slice it into strips. Dip in a lightly beaten egg, then dredge in Panko breadcrumbs and fry on all four sides in butter and olive oil until golden brown.

Next, I decided to make a pea and fava salad to use up some of the mint that’s invading the side yard (oddly, it isn’t filling in the bid I gave it, with enriched soil, in favor of growing outside the bed – go figure!) I’ve made this a few times, and I didn’t have a lot of favas to harvest, so this was mostly a frozen pea dish. Marinate the onions in the lemon juice and salt for 10 minutes, but otherwise, this is an extremely quick and easy dish with bright flavors – just toss it together

Favas and Peas with Mint
1 bag frozen peas, thawed and rinsed
Fava beans: shelled, boiled for 3 minutes, then peeled
1/2 small Vidalia or other sweet onion
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp. salt
30 mint leaves, chiffonaded

Finally, the easiest dish of all: chevre-stuffed piquillo peppers with thyme and parsley: just stuff, chill and serve.

Chevre Stuffed Piquillo Peppers
1 jar of piquillo peppers (roughly 8 peppers) (Trader Joe’s has these for a little more than $2 – the best deal I’ve seen by far.)
2 oz. chevre
4 sprigs of thyme

Put them all in a serving dish, and dress with olive oil, black pepper and parsley sprigs.

Chevre and Thyme Stuffed Piquillo Peppers