Justin Pfeilsticker, executive sous chef at ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho, has an enviable garden. He has passion for taking care of his produce and uses unusual (and often discarded) parts of the plant in his dishes. Lucky for you, Pfeilsticker gave us a sneak peek into his garden and shares an inspiring seasonal recipe after the jump.
Pfeilsticker has loved growing food since childhood and even makes his own slings to grow some of his produce vertically. The slings keep the produce from falling. "I'll use an old T-shirt or whatever fabric I have around," he says.
In the summer months, he often waters a few times a day, taking care not to get water on any leaves. "It might actually be cheaper for me to buy some things from the store, but I love doing it myself," he says. ("It keeps me out of the bars!" he's joked.)
There are lots of things that grow well in the summer, "Now is a great time to plant cantaloupe, Armenian cucumbers, okra, all types of chiles, and black-eyed peas," he says. If you grow melon, basil, or mint, Pfeilsticker's recipe is sure to freshen up your summer salad routine.
Summer Melon Salad with Feta & Toasted Almonds
Yield: 6-8 Servings
1 each Cantaloupe (3-4 lb) very cold As needed Kosher salt ¼ Tsp Black peppercorns 2 Tbsp Olive oil 1 Tbsp Red wine vinegar 3 Tbsp Basil & mint, chopped 1 ea. Shaved Red Onion 4-6 oz Feta Cheese ¼ cup Almonds, toasted 1/2 cup Tender greens
1. Peel and remove seed of the cantaloupe and cut into fourths lengthwise, then cut each fourth into 6-7 slices. Arrange on a platter and sprinkle with salt.
2. Crack the peppercorns on a cutting board with the bottom of a skillet or in a mortar and pestle. It should not be too fine; set aside.
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3. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, red onion and herbs in a large mixing bowl; add the almonds and toss. Check seasoning and arrange on top of the melon. Top with the cheese, peppercorns, almonds and greens.
*Note: The melon can be peeled ahead of time and refrigerated, however the dish should be assembled at the last minute and served immediately as the salt will draw the liquid out of the melon fairly quickly.