Our newsletter from August 25:
Dear CSA members,
Ah, some cooler weather at last! That certainly has made this harvest morning more pleasant, despite the humidity. As I was cutting parsley for you this morning, I had to pick around a half a dozen or more Black Swallowtail caterpillars munching on the parsley leaves. Black Swallowtails are my favorite garden pests. You’ve probably seen the butterflies—they are the black ones whose wing-fringes look bejeweled with yellow and blue spots. The caterpillars feed on Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrot), but they also love domestic carrots, dill, and parsley. The caterpillars look really cool too—they start out looking black with a white band around their middle, but as they grow their colors expand into green and black stripes with yellow spots. I’m always happy to share a bit of the garden with them in exchange for the extra bit of beauty they add to the farmscape.
The tomato vines are starting to suffer from early blight spread about by all of the rain over the past couple of weeks. But as the leaves die back, the plants are working hard to reproduce and ripen up their fruits. There will probably be fewer tomatoes over the next couple of weeks, but for this week, there are more than plenty to go around. John has done several batches of roasted tomato and vegetable sauce to freeze up for the winter. Here’s his recipe for basic roasted tomato sauce:
John’s Roasted Tomato Sauce
Ingredients: Tomatoes, Olive Oil
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Core and then halve tomatoes. Lay them with cut side up on an oiled cookie sheet. Bake 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the tomato. Take tray out of the oven and pour off liquid. Reserve the liquid. Flip tomatoes over and bake for another 30 minutes. Cool slightly, then run tomatoes through the food processor, adding reserved liquid to make the sauce whatever consistency you desire.
After you’ve made the basic sauce, you can add to it whatever herbs and spices you’d like. A couple of weeks ago John made the roasted tomato sauce and then added lots of chopped fresh basil. Then he grilled sliced eggplants and topped them with the sauce and parmesan cheese. It tasted like eggplant parmesan, but was much simpler and less soggy.
If you’ve got extra zucchinis, eggplants, or peppers languishing in your refrigerator, you can roast them up in the same way as the tomatoes (brush their tops with a little olive oil when you stick them in the oven) and then blend them up with the tomatoes to make a roasted veggie sauce with lots of flavor. You can use it fresh or freeze it for winter use. It also makes a great base for enchilada sauce if you add some garlic, chili powder, and cumin.
A couple of our friends made us dinner this past week with some of the leftover vegetables from last week’s distribution. It was a simple, satisfying supper based around this salad:
Pasta & Vegetable Salad
Ingredients: Garlic, Olive Oil, Tomatoes, Sweet peppers, Cucumbers, Scallions or Onions, Penne Rigate pasta (the tube kind with the ridges), Grated Parmesan cheese, Salt & Pepper, Basil or Parsley. Optional: protein such as shrimp or chicken
Mince garlic and soak in a few tablespoons of olive oil until the oil has absorbed the garlic flavor. Cook pasta al dente. Rinse and drain. Chop vegetables and add to pasta. Drizzle with garlic-infused oil and toss to coat. Stir in chopped basil and/or parsley, salt & pepper to taste, and parmesan cheese. Our friend also tossed in some cooked shrimp, but you could add chicken as well or simply leave out the protein altogether.
This might go really well with the gazpacho soup John made earlier this week, which was really flavorful and refreshing. It’s a variation on a gazpacho recipe from the Moosewood Restaurants Favorites cookbook:
Ingredients: 1 quart chilled tomato juice, 1 cup diced cucumber, 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes, ¼ cup finely chopped scallions, 1 minced garlic clove, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil, 2 tsp ground toasted cumin seeds, 1 tsp salt. Optional: tabasco or other hot sauce, cubed ripe avocados.
Combine all ingredients in a big bowl or pot and chill for at least an hour. John threw everything in the food processor and chopped it up that way rather than doing everything by hand. He also put in some sweet pepper. You can vary this to your liking by using different vegetables and herbs. It’s good with a dollop of sour cream in the middle. You might also sprinkle on toasted bread crumbs, tortillas, or crackers for texture.
Enjoy! Amy & John