The Sunny Side – Week of 8/2/14
In this week’s box you will find:
- Cucumbers (green and/or lemon, or yellow)
- Red or Green Kale
- Big Red Onions (Thursday)
- Arugula (Thursday)
- Summer Squash or zucchini (Thursday)
- Carrots (Thursday)
- A Basil Plant
- Garlic (Sunday)
- Red Long of Tropea Onions (Sunday)
- Mirai Sweet Corn (Sunday – from Twin Garden Farms – not organic, but very local and non-GMO, and widely renowned)
In the Field
For some reason, I always assume that people sign up for the CSA mostly because of the allure of home grown tomatoes. Almost everyone loves a good, vine-ripened, garden-fresh tomato, and a person can really only get such a tomato from a local farm or a backyard garden. This is one fruit/vegetable whose grocery-store counterpart can be so disappointing as to put a person off of tomatoes forever. In fact, Nick, who grew up in Alaska, had never had a home-grown tomato until he moved to the lower 48 after high school; consequentially, he thought he hated tomatoes his whole life. Of course, he changed his mind when he met the kinds of tomatoes that the Midwest has to offer. No fruit is as engrained in the ethos of the Midwestern truck farmer as the tomato.
Starting in June, folks at the market begin to ask when tomatoes will be ready, and by the time the end of July rolls around, crowds of folks amble past the stand, hoping to catch a glimpse of something red. We bite our nails, examining the slowly ripening fruit, and check the weather forecast for nice, hot, tomato weather. A few tomatoes are ready, and then, a few more. By mid-August, scales flash and paper bags rustle as folks tote home 25-lb. lugs for canning projects. And then, around September 1st, I begin to wonder if maybe we planted too many tomatoes. The corners of my mouth start to sting with tomato juice. All of our clothes smell like tomatoes…the jars of sauce and bags of frozen diced tomatoes pile up…there are little red seeds everywhere I look. By October, the first frost brings a welcome end to tomato season, but by November, I’m opening jars and looking at seed catalogs again.
Despite all the ups and downs of tomato season, I feel so excited when we put that first tomato in the CSA box. I hope that you all feel just as excited when you unpack it! Enjoy these first fruits, let them ripen on your counter to whatever ripeness level you prefer, and start collecting tomato recipes that you want to try, because you will be needing them in a few weeks!
In the Kitchen
Storage tips for this week:
- The large red onions and Tropea onions are not cured (dried) and so they should be stored in the fridge.
- Garlic can be stored on your kitchen counter.
- Remove the carrots from their tops and store each separately in the fridge.
- Tomatoes can be stored on the counter until slightly soft to the touch.
- The basil plant will do well in a sunny windowsill or on your porch or patio. Water 3-4 times weekly to keep soil moist. When you harvest, either pluck individual leaves or pinch off at a part of the stem that is directly above a “node” where new leaves are growing. This will promote growth in the plant and prevent legginess. The plant should live into the fall, but will probably poop out some time during the late fall or winter. Check out this site for more information about caring for and harvesting from your basil plant.
Cooking tips for this week:
- No need to do anything fancy with the tomatoes – just slice, salt, and serve with a little chopped basil.
- Arugula is a tender green with a big, peppery, nutty taste. Use sparingly in salad or as a pizza topping or omlette ingredient, or try it in pesto (my favorite way to eat it – see recipe below).
- Big red onions are delicious in fresh salads, as they have a slightly sweeter taste than their yellow counterparts. For a new twist on onions, try quick-pickling them!
- Red Long of Tropea onions are an Italian heirloom, and can be used wherever you might use chopped red onion. I love red onion in all kinds of salads.
- Our second succession of kale finally grew up! It is young, so it is much more tender than it usually is this time of year. Yum – perfect for raw kale salad (find the recipe again here) or a quick sautee in olive oil with garlic and white wine.
- Carrot tops are edible and yummy when used sparingly! You can add them to soup stock, or use them to make a tasty pesto, salsa verde, or chimichurri.
- If you are feeling a little buried in cucumbers, try this great summer cucumber salad. It is one of my favorite ways to eat cucumbers!
- If you haven’t eat the sweet corn right off the cob yet, you can try Charred Sweet Corn Salad (just halve the recipe for the amount of corn you have).
- You can also make this delicious Kale-Corn Salad – just substitute your curly red or green kale for the dino kale in this recipe!
This pesto freezes well and is great to bring out when you have an arugula-tooth but no fresh arugula. A little goes a long way!
- One bunch arugula leaves, washed and dried
- 1/4 c. pine nuts, walnuts, or any other nut that you fancy
- 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2-3/4 c. olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Blend arugula in a food processor, adding garlic, nuts and Parmesan until well blended. With machine running, gradually add olive oil; process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.
If you are feeling buried in zucchini, try this delicious recipe thet Lori passed along last week:
Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Moist, dense, and super chocolate-y, no one will ever guess there’s zucchini in this bread. What a great way to use up some of your excess harvest!
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
- 1/3 cup King Arthur All-Purpose Baking Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
- 1 2/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini, gently pressed
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350°F; lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, honey, oil, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
- Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder, cocoa, and flour, mixing until well combined.
- Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake the bread for 65 to 75 minutes, until the loaf tests done (a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean, save for perhaps a light smear of chocolate from the melted chips).
- Remove the bread from the oven, and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes before turning it out of the pan onto a rack.
- Cool completely before slicing; store well-wrapped, at room temperature.
Yield: one 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf.
My mom loves lentils…..and this salad might make you love them too!
Mom’s Lentil Salad
- 3 1/2 c. dried lentils
- 1/4 c. Sliced green onions or diced red onions
- 1 c. Diced tomatoes
- 1 c. Diced carrots
- 2 tbsp. baslamic vinegar
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
Wash and pick over lentils and combine with water or broth in a saucepan to cover lentils by about an inch. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, simmering until lentils are tender but still retain their shape. Drain lentils and combine with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate and serve cold or at room temperature.