Monday, August 29, 2011

Stone Fruit

Here's a friendly reminder to treat your stone fruit with care. The fruit from Sweet Tree Farms is ripe when we pick it up on Fridays. You might want to bring a separate bag for your fruit so that they don't get bruised on the way home.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Slow-Cooked String Beans with Tomato and Onion

These days most people eat their vegetables on the crunchy side. If not entirely raw, they're usually minimally cooked. While some vegetables are certainly best when they're cooked lightly, other vegetables can withstand longer cooking, and string beans are one of those vegetables. In fact, string beans are so versatile you find them in salads, soups, and stews; and of course as a side dish.

This is one of my favorite ways to prepare string beans as a side dish. The lovely Blue Lake beans that were in our box today are delicious prepared this way. It's also a great way to use the tougher wide beans that are best well-cooked.

2-3 T olive oil
1 medium red or brown onion
1 lb string beans
1 C chopped red tomato
1 T dried oregano or 2 T chopped fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet with a lid.

2. Cut onion in half lengthwise and the cut lengthwise into strips. Add to skill and saute, stirring periodically, until translucent.

3. Trim the ends off the string beans and pull off any tough strings, but leave beans whole. Add beans to skillet and stir to coat with oil. Cook over medium-low heat, partially covered for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow both the onions and the beans to get a little browned.

4. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and chopped oregano. Continue cooking, uncovered, until most of the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated, usually another 5-10 minutes.

5. Turn heat down. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: Yellow zucchini, bi-color corn, raspberries, eggplant, Hungarian bell pepper, red and green leaf lettuce, Blue Lake beans, Texas sweet onion, and chard.

From Sage Mountain Farm: yellow patty pan squash, cucumbers, Easter Egg radishes, Chantennay carrots, green scallions, and collard greens.

From Sweet Tree Farms: white nectarines, pluots, and heirloom tomatoes.

And from Silver Lake Farms: arugula, cilantro and mustard microgreens.



Friday, August 19, 2011

Spaghetti alla Checca

I was inspired today by the fabulous basil microgreens from Silver Lake Farms and the amazing assortment of tomatoes in our box. Spaghetti alla Checca is a simple and delicious way to use late summer's abundance of tomatoes. This dish is made with just a few ingredients, so use the very best olive oil, garlic, basil, tomatoes, and pasta you can find. I used red tomatoes, but you can use any color fresh, ripe tomatoes.

Spaghetti works well in this dish, but you can substitute many other pasta shapes. Farfalle work nicely, as do linguine and angel hair.

Spaghetti alla Checca

Assemble the following ingredients:

1 lb dry spaghetti
4-6 T extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb fresh tomatoes, chopped
handful of basil microgreens or 1/4 C fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper
grated parmesan cheese, optional

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti 1 minute less than the package directions indicate.

2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic and slightly golden. [If the pasta isn't done yet, turn off the heat until the pasta is ready. Turn the heat on again before adding the pasta in Step 4 below.]

3. Just before draining the pasta, remove about 1/2 C of the pasta cooking water and set it aside.

4. Drain the pasta and add it and the pasta water to the skillet with the garlic. Cook on medium heat until, stirring to coat the pasta, until the water is gone. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir to distribute.

5. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then stir in the basil microgreens or chopped fresh basil. Garnish with microgreens and serve warm or at room temperature.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: yellow and green sweet bell peppers, red and green leaf lettuce, Japanese turnips, mizuna, bok choy, sharlyn and ambrosia melons, avocado, zucchini, Cherokee tomatoes, garlic, and collard greens.

From Sage Mountain Farm: Easter radishes, patty pan squash, heirloom tomatoes, and Swiss chard.

From Sweet Tree Farms: Peaches, pluots, and heirloom tomatoes.

And from Silver Lake Farms: Basil and mustard microgreens and sweet green sherry tomatoes.



Friday, August 5, 2011

Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Bruschetta

If you love tomatoes like I do, this is your time of year. It's peak tomato season and gardens and farms are brimming with this glorious fruit.

I've been putting up quarts of my slow-cooked tomato sauce (see blog post for September 24, 2010 for this recipe) and eating juicy, fresh tomatoes every day. There's nothing like a fresh-picked, vine-ripened heirloom for great tomato flavor and texture.

Here's another bread and tomato combination that's very easy. Many bruschetta recipes call for chopped tomatoes, but this recipe uses sliced tomatoes. It saves you a step and I think it's easier to eat, too; you don't have all those tomato pieces falling off the bread.

Grilling the bread adds a wonderful flavor component, but you can toast the bread on a cookie sheet or rack in your oven, if you don't feel like grilling.

Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Bruschetta

12 1/2-inch slices of a hearty, round baguette
2-3 T olive oil

Pre-heat the grill or oven (to about 350 degrees, if using an oven). Brush the bread slices with olive oil on both sides. Grill until lightly browned on one side, then turn over and grill on the other side. You can do this step ahead, but it's best to use the grilled bread the same day that you grill it.

12 1/2-inch slices ripe heirloom tomato about the same diameter as the bread slices
12 slices fresh mozzarella a little smaller than the tomato and bread slices
sea salt
handful of Silver Lake Farms microgreens

Place a slice of tomato atop the grilled bread. Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Top with mozzarella and a small bunch of microgreens. Serve immediately or set aside for an hour or two to allow the tomato juices to soak into the grilled bread.

Occasionally, I like to substitute burrata for the fresh mozzarella. And you can use finely chopped basil instead of microgreens, if you prefer.

Today's bounty included: Green leaf lettuce, red chard, corn, green beans, pluots, nectarines, raspberries, French morning melon, arugula shoots and heirloom tomatoes.