Dear CSA members,
It feels like fall officially arrived with this past week’s weather change. Our summer vines (cucumber, tomato, squash) are beginning to die back and the fall greens (kale, chard, pac choi) are perking up in the cooler air. I have to confess that I’ve been so busy with orientation at K College this week that I haven’t spent much time in the field or the kitchen, so John and Diane have been working extra hard to get your shares put together.
In his “spare” time, John has been processing big pot-fulls of tomatoes into soup and sauce and freezing them in yogurt containers. Making your own tomato sauces and salsas is easy and lets you adjust the flavors to your taste preferences. Here’s one of my favorite vegetable sauce recipes, passed on to me by CSA member Crystal Boddy. You can put it over ravioli, as the recipe suggests, but it’s good with any kind of pasta, really. You can adjust the vegetables in the sauce based on what you have in the refrigerator and what you like.
Ravioli with Grilled Vegetable Sauce (Yields 4 cups sauce; serves four with sauce left over)
Ingredients: 1 medium red onion, halved (skin on); 4-5 sweet peppers; 1 hot fresh green chile, such as jalapeno; 1 portabella mushroom (4 to 5 inches in diameter), wiped clean, stem removed; ½ medium eggplant, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick; 2 cups (1 lb.) chopped tomatoes; 3 cloves garlic; 3 TBS extra-virgin olive oil; ¼ cup heavy cream; 1 lb. cheese ravioli; freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or heat a gas grill for 20 min on high. (Or you can do this under the broiler.) Put onion, peppers, chile, mushroom, and eggplant slices on the grill. Grill the onion until it can be easily pierced by a skewer (about 45 min), the peppers and chile until charred black and the skins are blistering (about 20 min), the mushroom until soft and golden brown (about 20 min), and the eggplant until branded with grill marks (about 15 min). In her notes on the recipe sheet, Crystal says that she grills the tomatoes too, before peeling and chopping them.
When the peppers and chile are cool enough to handle, peel them and remove their seeds. Peel the onion. Put the onion, peppers, chile, eggplant, mushroom, chopped tomatoes, and garlic in a food processor. Process until the vegetables are a puree. Transfer to a saucepan; stir in the olive oil and cream. Turn the heat to medium, bring to a gentle boil, and then simmer until the sauce is dense, smooth and reduced to about 4 cups, 30 to 40 min. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a vigorous boil and add the ravioli. Cook until the ravioli are puffy and bobbing on top of the water, pushing them down occasionally (if using frozen ravioli, follow the directions on the package). Test one to be sure it’s fully cooked; drain and then cover with the sauce. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if you like.
Here’s a slightly simpler sauce, from epicurious.com. In addition to pasta, you could use this in other dishes that call for a tomato sauce, like pizza or chicken recipes.
Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce
Ingredients: 1 7- to 8-ounce bell pepper; 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar; 2 plum tomatoes; 1 garlic clove, peeled; 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil; 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Char bell pepper and tomatoes directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Transfer tomatoes to plate. Enclose pepper in paper bag 10 minutes. Peel, halve, and seed tomatoes; place in blender. Peel, seed, and chop pepper; add to blender. Add oil, vinegar, garlic, and cayenne; blend until smooth. Season sauce with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)
Finally, here’s a fresh salsa recipe from Alton Brown. This stuff never lasts very long around here!
Ingredients: 2 medium jalapenos, seeded and minced; 1 small lime, juiced; 6 (about 1 pound) tomatoes, chopped; 1 Tbsp olive oil; 4 cloves garlic, minced; 1 tsp kosher salt; 1 small bell pepper, chopped; 1/2 tsp black pepper; 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped; chili powder, add to taste; 1 dried ancho chili snipped into fine pieces. Chopped cilantro, scallions, or parsley to taste.
Heat broiler to high and move and oven rack 6 inches underneath it. Place 1 jalapeno underneath it in a pie plate. Crisp and turn it until all sides are blackened. Cool, rub off skin and mince, removing seeds. In a small mixing bowl, combine roasted and unroasted minced jalapenos, tomatoes, garlic, bell pepper, onion, ancho chilli, olive oil, lime juice, salt, black pepper, chili powder, and herbs. Place in fridge for at least one hour to infuse flavors.
Happy eating, everyone! Enjoy those summer flavors while they last. Amy