Sunday, August 9, 2015

CSA offerings: week 11


Tomatoes started to ripen this past week, and we've officially moved into the season of abundance. Tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, cucumbers, green beans, basil: get it while you can, because this stuff just doesn't last forever!

Nature is also showing signs that the glut of the season is upon us. The vole population seems to have made a sudden jump. I see and hear them scurrying everywhere. I set traps today in the tomatoes, since they caught on to the ripening before I did, and made quite a "dent" in the harvest. And this week I found the biggest spider I've ever seen (not counting tarantulas in a zoo). She gave me a start when I almost grabbed her while reaching for a perfect kale leaf. The name "black and yellow garden spider" certainly doesn't do her justice!

Even in the midst this gluttony, though, there are hints of what's to come. The winter squash and dry bean plants are starting to yellow and wither. The thistle spikes are getting sharper as the plants dry down. The mornings are cooler and damper, and seeds take just a day or two longer to germinate. It reminds me that this abundance we're having is fleeting, and I'm glad. If I wanted summer all the time, I wouldn't live in Oregon!

Nevertheless, in celebration of what we have now, it's time once again to increase your item count. Make sure to pick 8 things from this week's list. And try Delinda's recipe for Roasted Pepper Gazpacho at the end of this email! I'm also including an old favorite of mine, which can only be made when the green bean season overlaps with the tomato season (which some years isn't for very long!). I got it years ago in an email from The Splendid Table. I can't find it online anywhere, so hopefully I'm not risking a copyright violation by reprinting it here. Both recipes are perfect food for a summer night.

Roasted Pepper Gazpacho
(recipe from shareholder Delinda Free)

2 peppers like Bell, Anaheim, or Poblano (depending on how spicy you want the soup), roasted and chunked
2 lbs ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
2 medium cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small onion, cut into chunks
1 clove garlic
3-4 teaspoons vinegar (red wine, sherry, or balsamic) or lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


Roast the peppers by placing them whole on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Roast at 450 degrees, turning every 10 minutes, for about 30-40 minutes, or until peppers are soft and collapsed, and the skins are bubbling.  Remove from oven and fold the corners of the foil in and seal together to make a tight pouch.  Leave them to cool in the foil pouch.  When they are cool enough to handle, remove the stem, seeds, and skin, and discard.  Retain the flesh of the pepper and any juices that have collected.

In a blender, blend all ingredients except salt, pepper, and olive oil on high until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper, then turn blender on and add olive oil in a thin drizzle through the small opening in the top of blender.  If there's too much volume for your blender, then it may be necessary to blend in batches.

Strain mixture through a strainer or food mill, discard the solids, pour the liquid into a pitcher or jar and chill for a few hours.  If the soup is too thick, water may be added to thin.  Makes about 2 quarts.

Essence of Summer Supper Salad
(from The Splendid Table)

This is a recipe for right now & good tomatoes, new green beans and sweet onions practically trumpet summer, which is why the mustard-garlic dressing is distinctive yet not overwhelming. It's a supporting player.

Green beans are the tomatoes' backup along with sweet onions. Cook the beans just beyond tender crisp to open up all their character. Serve the salad with a loaf of rough country bread for sopping up the dressing.

Shrimp Alternatives: Shrimp are spendy and not essential here. Tofu, cooked poultry, or any other protein you would like will work. You could even skip the protein; the salad will still be good. In fact, you get a complete protein if you have the salad with whole grain bread, which when eaten with the green beans becomes the nutritional equivalent of shrimp or chicken.

Working Ahead: The shrimp, green beans and dressing could be made a day ahead and refrigerated.

Serves 4

Shrimp and Green Beans
3 quarts hot salted water in a 6-quart pot

1 pound large to jumbo unshelled raw shrimp, or boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1/2-inch dice, or firm tofu

1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed of stem ends


Dressing
1/3 cup cider or rice vinegar

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon dark coarse mustard, or Dijon mustard

2 large cloves garlic, minced

About 1/3 cup good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced


Finishing
4 to 6 delicious ripe tomatoes, vertically sliced 1/4-inch thick

15 leaves fresh basil, torn

3 whole scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 lemon


1. Bring the salted water to just below the boil then drop in the shrimp. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until shells start to turn pink and firm up. Don't overcook. With a slotted spoon, immediately scoop the shrimp out of the water into a colander.

2. Rinse shrimp with cold water to stop the cooking and cool them. Slip off the shells and season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Set aside. If holding more than 10 minutes, chill in the refrigerator.

3. Bring the water left in the pot to a full boil. As it heats, take a large bowl and whisk together the vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard, and garlic until well combined. Whisk in the olive oil until mixture comes together and is slightly thickened. Add the onions and toss with the dressing.

4. Once the water in the pot is boiling, drop in the beans. Cook over high heat, uncovered, until just beyond tender crisp, about 3 to 7 minutes depending on size of beans. Taste as you go to check for doneness. Drain beans in a colander, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Add shrimp and beans to bowl and toss until well combined. Taste for seasoning.

5. Arrange the sliced tomatoes around the rim of a serving platter. Sprinkle with salt. Pile the bean salad in the center and spoon on any remaining dressing. Sprinkle basil and scallion on top, then squeeze the half lemon over all.

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