Our newsletter from August 16:
Dear CSA members,
We scurried around yesterday to get part of the harvest done ahead of today’s predicted rain, but it looks like we might not get wet today after all. I’d just as soon we did get a storm—the plants could sure use it. The most time consuming part of harvest this week was bean-picking. I know we are giving you a lot of snap beans at once! We meant to stagger our bean crops so that they would ripen several weeks apart to stretch out the season and not overwhelm you. But our first planting of green beans didn’t germinate well, so we went ahead and inter-sowed yellow beans in the spaces where the green ones hadn’t come in. Then we ordered a different variety of green beans to make sure we’d have enough to share with everyone. Even though we planted that new variety several weeks later than the first, the heat brought it along quickly and now both plantings are in full production mode. Whenever we pick beans we think about John’s Dad, who died in 2009 and who loved to pick beans. John’s got a lovely photo of him sitting in a bean patch, smiling delightedly. So, Hal Edgerton, we dedicate this bumper bean crop to you! Wish you could be here to lend a hand in the picking.
The good news is that there are so many simple, tasty things to do with fresh snap beans. I like them just barely steamed, so that they are heated through but still crisp and bright green. A little butter or oil and salt—yum! John’s favorite way to eat snap beans is in a spicy marinated salad. Here’s his recipe:
John’s Snap Bean Salad
Ingredients: 1 lb snap beans, stems removed; 1 tsp minced ginger; 1 or more cloves garlic, minced; 4 Tbsp olive oil; 1 ½ Tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar; 1 tsp mustard; 2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce; 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil. Optional: chopped scallions or shallots; red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to taste.
In a small bowl, whisk together ginger, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, tamari, and toasted sesame oil. Steam or blanch beans until just tender. Drain, then put beans in a bowl big enough to toss them in the marinade. Add marinade, toss, cover. Eat immediately or refrigerate for several hours to let the flavors mingle and soak into the beans.
I’ve been enjoying reading our CSA member Sarah Hayes’ vegan food blog, www.badtothebowl.com! Here’s a bean salad recipe that she posted last year that I want to try. It sounds fresh and good.
Lemon Basil Wax Beans with Chickpeas
Ingredients: 1 lb. trimmed wax beans; handful of cherry tomatoes halved; 1 cup of chickpeas (if canned, rinse well); 18 basil leaves, chopped (mine were all different sizes, use more or less depending on your basil love); 2 cloves garlic; 3 Tblsp minced red onion; 1 Tblsp lemon juice; 1 tsp olive oil; 1/2 tsp salt; 1/8 tsp pepper
Steam trimmed beans until tender. Drain. Place in bowl. Add chopped basil, tomatoes and chickpeas. Whisk remaining ingredients in small bowl. Pour over bean mixture and toss gently.
Beans are one of the very few vegetables that I like frozen. And they are super easy to freeze, so if you know you won’t be able to eat all of yours fresh, you might consider throwing a bag or two in the freezer. As with all bean recipes, the key is to not overcook them. Just barely blanch them in boiling water (1-3 minutes, so they are heated through but still crisp), then plunge them into ice water to cool. Pack them in a freezer bag, suck the air out, and throw them in the freezer to enjoy this winter!
Before the cucumbers totally disappear, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite summer salads that uses lots of things from your shares today:
Tomato, Cucumber, and Feta Salad
Ingredients: Tomato; Chopped Fresh Basil; Cucumber; Feta Cheese. Optional: Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Salt.
Chop cucumber and tomato into bite-sized pieces. Mix together in bowl with crumbled feta cheese and basil. Eat plain or drizzle with olive oil and vinegar and salt to taste. Especially good if chilled a bit before eating.
Another popular summer salad involves mozzarella rather than feta cheese:
Ingredients: 3 tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices; 1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices; 20 to 30 leaves (about 1 bunch) fresh basil; Olive oil, for drizzling; Coarse salt and pepper. Optional: balsamic vinegar.
Layer alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella, adding a basil leaf between each, on a large, shallow platter. Drizzle the salad with extra-virgin olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper, to taste. I sometimes make a little less fancy version by getting those little fresh mozzarella balls and throwing them in a bowl with chopped tomatoes and basil instead of messing with the layering.
Enjoy! Amy & John