CSA Double Dose #2

This is supposed to be a vegetable dancer. Hold me closer – veggie dancer.

Last week’s CSA: Yams, peppers, carrots, garlic

This week’s CSA Arugula, Kale, Spinach, Peppers, Garlic. Yummy!

Did you know?

That yams can weigh up to 120 pounds a piece? Yikes!

Clockwise: Salad mix (bagged), garlic chives, bell peppers, beets, kale, red kuri squash, watermelon

Did you know?
That watermelon’s have more lycopene per pound than fresh tomatoes? Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that aids the body in fighting off free radicals. While fresh tomatoes are also an excellent source of lycopene, cooked tomatoes can have up to three times as much. All the more reason to eat watermelon now and jar/can our tomatoes for winter. ūüôā

 

Potatoes, Salad Mix, Peppers, Garlic, and of course –¬† Beets!

Did you know?
Lots of groups like to highlight the best things to buy organically – as in the foods that are treated the most heavily with pesticides. I like to check on the “Dirty Dozen”, which I have listed below for 2012.¬† Click here for the full list of heavily treated crops.

These are ordered with #1 being the absolute worst. Hence, why I get peppers, lettuce and potatoes as much as possible in our CSA!

1.Apples
2. Celery
3. Sweet Bell Peppers
4.Peaches
5. Strawberries
6. Nectarines – Imported
7. Grapes
8. Spinach
9. Lettuce
10. Cucumbers
11.Blueberries – domestic
12.Potatoes

Kelyn’s Rainbow Tomato Sauce

Ravioli with home-made sauce and dill butter garlic beans.

Sometimes in life, we just have to say I am sorry. I am SO SORRY that this recipe is late to the blog! I promised it to a few lovely patrons of the West Reading Farmer’s Market by 9 PM last evening, but alas, wedding decorating took over our home, and then my mother-in-law to be dropped off the first official bouquet of garden grown flower lovin’ for the wedding (next August), and to be honest, by the time I settled down, I was ready for sleepy-time. ūüôā

With no further delay, here is the recipe for the best¬†tomato sauce you will ever eat. I am a fan of tasting the vegetables,¬†not overwhelming them with unnecessary seasoning.¬†We just kept saying all of Saturday night, “Why isn’t there more!?!?!?”, and milling around the house like lost children, opening cupboards and expecting that maybe I somehow jarred some in my sleep. I hope you enjoy this simple and healthy recipe as much as I do.

Ingredients

The mix of veggies in the pot, pre-cooking.

1 quart mixed color heirloom, organic, local tomatoes (mine were largely yellow and orange, with a few red and purple)
1 large, local, organic carrot (mine was purple!!!)
1 small, local, organic sweet onion
1 large, local, green bell pepper (or 2 small ones)
1 extremely hot, local, organic hot pepper (adjust to your desired level)
1/2 a bunch of local, organic, basil – I used spicy bush, sweet Italian, and purple
6-8 cloves of local, organic garlic
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1.¬†Cut all of the tomatoes into chunks.¬†Everything will eventually go through a food processor or blender, so large sloppy chunks are AOK. You can also “Hulk Smash” with your hands, if you prefer. Put into a large sauce pot.
2. Chop up onion, carrot, peppers, basil and garlic. Add to the sauce pot. Drizzle with a bit of¬†oil. Simmer¬†over medium-ish heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. I like the fresh taste of the¬†veggies, so I don’t simmer more than 30 minutes.¬†¬†¬†Once¬†your skins on your tomatoes start to get wilty and weird,¬†you are ready.
3. Remove from heat. If you are fearless like I am, you just pour this steaming hot pile of awesome directly into the food processor -otherwise let it cool for a few minutes. I use my Cuisinart on high for maybe 30 seconds, so that there are still some pieces of veg, but the food processor/blender is the trick to thickening it up. Check every 15 seconds until you hit your desired texture. IF YOU DO THIS HOT РBE CAREFUL! The steam can cause burns.
4. Serve over your favorite pasta with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.¬†We ate it over cheese ravioli, and then I¬†steamed green beans and added a garlic, dill butter that I like to make and keep around. I find that this needs no¬†salt, but I also don’t eat very much processed food, and thereby which, find a lot of things to be too salty. Feel free to add some sea salt if needed!

Pasta Primavara Bake

As any good American citizen, sometime I just need to be able to come home and make something healthy and super quick for dinner. While there are hundreds of variations of pasta primavera, this one is my favorite for a quick fix.

Ingredients

1 box veggie pasta
1 jar organic Alfredo sauce (Newman’s is good, and relatively easy to find)
8 oz. Ricotta Cheese
1 organic, local zucchini – sliced into 1/8 inch pieces, cut in half again
3 organic, local carrots – cut into medium slices
1 cup local, organic peas
1 small head local, organic broccoli – steamed (or microwaved…gasp!)
handful of organic, local basil (I used Sweet Italian and Pesto Basil)
A shake or two of organic red pepper flakes
2-3 Tbsp organic, local garlic -chopped
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Organic garlic granules
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1.) Preheat your oven to 350. Boil your water for your noodles, and cook them as you complete the following steps.
2.)Heat oil  in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add all vegetables (except for the steamed broccoli), garlic, red pepper & basil and saute for 5-7 minutes, until zucchini gets to a slightly wobbly point.
3.) Pour sauce into a 13 x9 glass baking dish. Add steamed broccoli. I usually add 1/4 cup warm water for baked pasta dishes, so that they stay moist Рthis is optional.  When the pasta finishes, drain and add to baking dish. When the veggies finish, add to baking dish as well. Mix it all together.
4.) Top with small spoonfuls of ricotta  and sprinkle with bread crumbs and garlic granules. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with garlic bread – nom nom nom!

Shocking Tomatoes

Some of our tomatoes

With our garden absolutely teeming with almost there ‘maters, it is about that time to start canning sauces, salsa and other tasty treats. One of my favorite additions to a salad are shocked tomatoes, marinated in a tasty vinaigrette. This is essentially just the first steps of making concasse, with a different end result. You can use any vinaigrette that you really like, but my two favorites are champagne or pomegranate.¬† This is an especially effective way to use your unsightly tomatoes. Once the skin is off and they are marinated, they’re all equally beautiful and yummy.

Ingredients
1 pint local, organic cherry tomatoes
1 bottle of your favorite organic vinaigrette, or if you are feeling bold, you could try this recipe for Champagne Vinaigrette from epicurious.

1. Cut the stem out of all tomatoes, and cut a small to medium “X” in the bottom of each of them. This is necessary to make it easy to remove the skin later. If your tomatoes have odd spots that you aren’t certain about, it is ok to cut those out as well.
2.  Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with really icy ice water, and set aside. Once the pot of water is boiling, slide your tomatoes into it Рgently but quickly.
3. Cook the tomatoes for no more than 1 minute. This is called blanching. It loosens the skin and makes it easy to peel off. If you are only doing a small amount, say a pint of cherry tomatoes, then it is probably going to take 30 seconds max. Your cue is when the skin around the “X” you cut starts to peel back and separate. As soon as this happens,¬† you are ready to transfer to ice water.
4. Put a lid over the pot and hold it over the sink to drain the water out (you can also use a colander, just be careful), then drop the tomatoes into the ice water, “shocking” them into not cooking anymore.
5. Once the tomatoes have cooled (a few minutes max¬† – leaving them in gives them the bloat), pull them from the ice water. Now it will be easy to peel their skin off (and compost or feed to chickens) where you cut your “X”.
6. Once skinned, place in a small bowl. Cover your tomatoes with vinaigrette until they are completely submerged in it. Refrigerate. You can eat them within an hour, but personally, I think they are better the next day. Eat as a snack, add to a salad,  or serve with other finger foods.

I’ve been making these for 6 or 7 years now, and every time people eat them, they are tickled pink. A nice, easy, healthy treat!

Pickled Beets – My New Obsession

When I was growing up, I hated beets. I hated them until I was 24 because I had never actually tried one, and just instinctively put up that wall that we so easily and unnecessarily put up when we are considering new food options. One random day at a salad bar, I tossed a beet on my plate. I was overwhelmed when I ate it! It was earthy and rooty and sweet and tart. What a delightful find!

Fast forward to the beginning of the CSA. I wanted beets. I would pickle them and store their goodness forever. Though having canned salsa, jam, and other various things in the past, I had never tried beets. I write this blog to show that it is easier than you think to make tasty, organic food, and to promote it in South Eastern Pennsylvania. Though all of the recipes thus far have been my own creation, for something like pickled beets I wanted the expert word. That being said, see the link at the bottom of the page for the pickling recipe I have been using.

When I sell beets at the Farmer’s Market there are 2 things most people don’t seem to know.

1.) Beet Greens are delicious mixed in with salad mix, and they’re healthy for you, packed with a wallop of vitamins A & K, potassium and magnesium (among other things). They come from the chard family, and are quite tasty.

2.) People like pickled beets, but few people actually know how to pickle them.

That’s when I discovered this recipe.¬† In my experience with cooking, I try really hard to NOT boil any veggies. Boiling kills their vitamin and nutrient content, and all of the good stuff leeches into your water (which you then throw away). When boiling vegetables, they lose a lot of their value. That being said, I roast the beets instead of boiling them.

Again, this is not my recipe. Click the link to check out the full directions from What’s Cooking America.¬† They offer boiling or roasting as a method, and roasting is healthier!

Ingredients:

3 pounds fresh small whole beets (use similar size beets)*
2 cups organic apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 cups granulated, organic sugar
3 or 4 local, organic garlic cloves, sliced in half

* Small beets can be pickled whole. Larger beets can be sliced in 1/4-inch slices or diced. In this recipe, I used several different varieties of beets that were varying sizes that I sliced.

Now before I start feeling like Dwight Schrute from “The Office” I will get off my beet pedestal.


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