Week 10 means the half way point for the season. It is always amazing to me how fast summer goes by but I love watching the food change as the season builds. This week is loaded! We just couldn’t help ourselves from adding that one last thing, and another last thing, and one last, last, last thing. Eat in this week!!
All of the winter crops are germinated now so we are faced with the daunting task of hand weeding and thinning 19 beds are carrots and beets. We do use a cultivation tractor (new this year!) which really takes the edge off but all the beets still need to be thinned (did you know each beet seed contains 2-4 plants?), and the carrots will need one good in row weeding. The important parts of this job are: A) Good music or an interesting podcast, B) Long pants, C) An interesting topic of discussion D) Water, E) A good attitude (never look up at the whole field, just the row we are in). It always seems a bit unattainable at the start but we will get through it, just in time for harvest.
Speaking of harvest, the garlic got pulled this week thanks to all of our great help! Garlic is planted in October, so it is our longest crop. It always feels ceremonious when it is time to pull it up. It looks like a pretty good harvest so we are happy.
Clockwise from top: Melons!, broccoli, celery, cilantro, flowers, green beans, cucumbers, okra, garlic, onions, peppers, kale. Enjoy!
U-pick beans available this week. Call or email to set up a time.
In your box this week…
Melons!!! Sun Jewel (these are not overgrown cucumbers)
Bell Peppers (colorful, not spicy)
Paste (or dicing) Tomatoes
Fresh Sweet Onions- red and white
Flowers! (because beauty matters)
Weekly Serving Suggestions:
Melons!- These strange looking melons are sweet, mild and juicy. Don’t overlook them, they are not past-prime cucumbers… though they kind of look that way. Melons store best in the fridge, and can keep up to a week (if you can wait that long). These Sun Jewel melons are one of the earliest ripening, which makes it possible to get a crop this far north. You can simply cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, then either slice into 1” half-moons and eat by hand, or scoop with a melon baller. Makes a very refreshing drink, when blended with some water and ice (maybe even a peeled and seeded cucumber). I’m proud any year we get melons in the boxes, so please enjoy! Try them Italian-Style with Prosciutto, parmesan and strong coffee for breakfast! These (Korean style) melons easily walk the line between sweet and savory. Sweet enough for a dessert, but they go nicely in a salad or on the grill as well!
Slicing Tomatoes- Juicy Heirlooms and firm red slicers both pack a lot of flavor, especially in the juice and gooey bits around the seeds. A nice thick slice is delicious all by itself, or topped with pesto, baba ganoush, salt, or on a sandwich. They also make an amazing sauce, because of all that flavor, but their juiciness tends to make it take a long time to cook down to the proper consistency. Their texture will preserve best out of the fridge for fresh eating, but they will keep longest in the fridge. Try them chopped fine as a “fresh-sauce” for al-dente pasta (or anything else that will soak up that extra juice.) Many heirloom varieties ripen from bottom to top. Slice them vertically to fully appreciate the flavor profile of these exquisite fruits.
Cucumbers– We’ve been drinking cucumber-melon juice all week. But cukes are easily added to salads fresh salsas (pico de gallo), sandwiches, or just as a side dish or vessel for dips. Be creative, store in the fridge.
Fresh Sweet Onions– Keep these in a bag in the fridge for best storage (they are not cured). Perfect for fresh eating, try in a sauce or salsa with fresh tomatoes or roasted tomatillos. Also great in bruschetta or any other lightly cooked application. Also wonderful on the grill for kebabs or just mixed grilled/roasted veggies. Slice into scoops for dipping too!
Fresh Cilantro- is absolutely delicious (unless you’re part of the 15% of the population who can’t stand it—in which case, just give it to someone else). It goes great in salsa verde and pico de gallo. But it also shines in a Peruvian potato salad, with chicken (added after cooking, of course), and in a great many other dishes. It’s bust of bright color and flavor are exciting and invigorating when added just before serving. Cilantro stores well in a small vase in the fridge, or wrapped in a damp paper towel inside a bag in the fridge.
Snap Beans- Fresh Beans are lovely and easy to use. These will be green, purple, yellow, and/or speckled. The purple and speckled beans will lose some of their color when cooked. A light steaming or simple marinade will do the trick to make them a tasty addition to any dish. Could be added to the recipe of the week if chopped small and allowed to marinate. Steam them and drizzle with oil or butter and salt. Also great for eating fresh (raw) or with dip. Will keep well in a bag in the fridge.
Celery- Celery has a strong flavor, that can seem bitter on it’s own. But, when paired with a rich dip (baba ganoush, hummus, peanut butter, etc.) it really shines and is packed with nutrients. Celery can be chopped and frozen for use in wintertime soups and stews as well. Stores well in a bag in the fridge. Celery juices well with carrots and/or cucumbers too! Part of the trinity of creole cooking, and mirepoix in French cuisine, celery makes a great base for soups and sauces.
Sweet Bell Peppers- Three colors: Red, Green, and Purple. Beautiful and subtly different. The red peppers, thick and sweet, are perfect for slicing and eating raw (maybe with some dip). Greens are somewhat more “peppery” and tart, great for roasting and sauteeing. The purple peppers are mild and thin, perfect for shaving into a salad or slaw. Peppers store well in the crisper drawer, or in a bag. Try a diced pepper salasa with or without tomatoes!
Paste tomatoes- Bred to make sauce with a high solids to liquid composition, these varieties are great for dicing fresh or rendering into thick unctuous sauce for now or later. Tomato sauce freezes and cans easily. Tomatoes can also be frozen whole, for later use in soups and sauces, though they will liquefy when thawed. Paste tomatoes are less flavorful than their juicier brethren, but these are some of the most flavorful paste tomatoes you’ll find, and they shine diced and added fresh to salsas, eggs, potatoes, etc. One of our favorite breakfasts around here is fried potatoes (think homefries) with a fried egg laid on top, dressed up with fresh diced tomatoes and cilantro, salt and pepper! For fresh eating, best stored out of the fridge or direct sunlight. For longest storage, keep in the refridgerator.
Garlic– This garlic is only partially cured, so while it will keep on the counter for a week or so, don’t expect it to last till spring in the pantry. Garlic is glorious and makes almost everything better. For strong, bright garlic flavor mince it fine and add it after cooking. For a more subtle umami boost, add it earlier in larger pieces (I’ll often add whole, or just lightly crushed cloves to a soup or roast.)
Broccoli– I’ve heard broccoli referred to as the “most versatile vegetable.” I have to assume that is because it only needs a short bit of heat, and can be added to nearly everything. While I like to steam long “branches of broccoli that include a fair bit of “trunk”. I also find that chopping the whole thing (except the thicker skin of the stem) finely makes it much easier to add to a sauce, or egg dish. Our girls are especially fond of mac n cheese with broccoli (sometimes we start dinner late too!) Stores best in a bag in the fridge.
Okra– I am not a very experienced Okra chef, but I’m starting to work on that. I like to think of it as a thickening agent. I often chop some into my tomato sauce, just a pod or two and let the gooeyness simmer out of it, then puree it up with the rest. It adds a little heartiness to the flavor and an unctuousness (or richness) to the texture of the sauce. Okra stores well in the fridge, but should stay dry, don’t wrap it in a plastic bag.
Kale– A veggie-vore’s staple. Kale is always an easy way to add important nutrients including folic acid and iron to almost any dish. A little wilted kale dressed up with salt and vinegar or soysauce makes a quick sidedish to any meal. Chopped kale can be added to most any dish (including the recipe of the week) just before removing from heat. Store kale in a bag in the fridge, for best results. Kale chips are easy to make and will disappear before your eyes!
Basic Blender Italian Tomato Sauce
From: Asparagus to zucchini, (with editorials by me)
Lots of tomatoes, chopped
Small amount of Basil and parsley (dry or fresh)
A large amount of oregano
2 or more garlic cloves, minced
1-2 carrots finely chopped
Salt and pepper
(Optional: Okra, celery, sweet or spicy peppers, onions, kale or other cooking greens)
Use lots of garlic!
Carrots are often used as a sweetener
Blend the tomatoes to an almost pureed texture.
Gradually add herbs, garlic, and carrots. (if using fresh herbs, add them later in the cooking process. Fresh herbs will release their flavor more readily and the subtleties will get lost with a long cooking time (any greens should be added in the last few minutes of cooking.))
Slowly cook the mixture in a deep heavy-bottomed skillet or pot.
When sauce has reduced about halfway, to the texture you want, add salt and pepper.
Add several tablespoons of olive oil before reheating for serving.
Makes any quantitiy.
Serve over pasta, or fried eggs, potatoes, or grilled meats. Top with parmesan or fresh herbs for flair!
*This is a great and highly versatile recipe that can accommodate many additions (such as chopped and sautéed mushrooms or eggplant, or even zucchini! Add things earlier or later depending on how you want the texture and flavor to be.) Sauce freezes well for later use, so make a big batch, use half right away and freeze half for the next time!