First Tomatoes: CSA Week 11

Howdy CSAers!

Welcome to July, and wow what a whirlwind this month has already proven to be!  We have been hard at work weeding, planting, harvesting, and irrigating.  Enjoying a break from the rain, but ready for some rain to give us a break from the daily task of watering the plants.

Where to start with an update for you all? Like Ivy mentioned last week, all of our greens are out of the ground. Our corn is knee high to an elephant (the true tell tale sign that we will have an abundant harvest!), our green beans are slowly starting to produce at about 10-15 pounds every other day, our melon plants are out of this world, and all of our peppers are starting to show their true colors. Hopefully next week or the following you all will be taking home your fair share of those summer treats!

However, today is a momentous occasion, as it marks the first share of  TOMATOES! You all will be graced this week with beautiful pints of cherry tomatoes, and many red and non-red slicers following shortly in the next coming weeks. I want to spend this post sharing with you all the different varieties of tomatoes that we have planted; what they taste like, what they pair well with, and how to prepare them.  We are growing four different tomato types: cherry, hybrid slicers, heirloom slicers, and paste/canning tomatoes.

20140704_175416

Peacevine (left), Yellow mini(middle) and black cherry (right), along with a few of our first eggplant 🙂

Cherry:

  • Sungold: Orange in color, intensely sweet and tangy, great as a raw snack or in your favorite tomato salad with a light vinaigrette.  Our biggest producer of all of the cherry varieties, so expect tons of bite size orange sweet treats!
  • Peace Vince/Sweetie: Typical red cherry tomato with the quintessential tomato taste, a tad bit on the sweeter side.  Also great for snacking, or my favorite is to saute with scrambled eggs for breakfast topped with a bit of homemade salsa!
  • Yellow Mini: Yellow in color and a bit milder in taste with a mellow even tone.
  • Black Cherry: Dark purple/red with an earthy acidic flavor.  Do not have as much water as other cherry tomatoes, so tons of meat to bring to the table. Great for cooking and eating in salads.

Hybrid:

  • Jet St20140703_161511ar: Basic red low acid tomato, definitely made for tomato sandwiches! Round in shape.
  • Pink Beauty: What a beauty this tomato is. Dark pink in color with a full rich tomato flavor.
  • New Girl/Early Girl: First to ripen and the first you all will see at market and in your shares!  Our plants are dumping tomatoes right now and have many more flowers blooming.  Red and apple shaped, also great for that tomato sandwich.

 

 

HeirloomIMG_20140706_203252

  • Huan U or Topaz: Yellow with green specks with a mild taste and firm texture.  Add it to the list of great raw snacking tomatoes!
  • Violet Jasper: Similar to the Huan U in taste in texture, but purple in color with green specks.
  • Red and Pink Brandywine: The most well known and popular of all heirloom tomatoes!  Big and beefy with pink or red flesh.  Late ripeners, so expect to see them a bit later in the season.
  • Cherokee Purple: Sweet large fruit with a dusky purple skin and flesh.  Throw this one on a sandwich or cold salad.
  • Orange Flesh Purple Smudge: What a cool looking tomato!  Orange flesh with purple flecks. Texture of an apricot, withe taste of a tomato!
  • Green Zebra: Light green skin and flesh with lime green stripes.  Sweet taste with a sharp bite, the best of all  green tomatoes!
  • Black Trifle: Dark red and green skin.  Pear shaped and reminiscent to chocolate in richness of taste.
  • Moscovich: Your basic red tomato in heirloom form.

Paste/Canning: All have high acid contents and are great for canning; whether you make salsas, sauces, or just canned whole tomatoes.  Shapes are oval and on the small side.

  • San Marzano
  • Opalka
  • Amish Paste

Also, don’t forget to store tomatoes on your counter and not in the fridge!  As they will loose their taste and texture in the fridge. Just place towel on counter, and tomatoes just like they look in above picture with stem side down. With cherries just keep them in a bowl or on  a towel.  Nobody likes a mealy tomato!

I may have missed a few varieties, so I will add them to the list in weeks to come!

 


 

Recipes

Summer eating. I am not a fan of cooking in the summer, and some days not a fan of eating. It is just too dang hot.  Summer calls for low fuss fresh meals, so I have picked a few of my favorites to share with you all.  I will warn you, I have a slight obsession with salsa, therefore I will be sharing with you all a new salsa recipe each time I post so you all can also acquire a salsa obsession.  This weeks salsa is geared towards the kids, but adults can join in on the fun or just change up the tools a bit (you will see what I mean when you check out the recipe).

All of these recipes are heavy on the herb, so maybe save them for when you get these herbs in your share or stop by the market and grab some from us on Saturday!

Sauteed Zucchini with Mint and Basil

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound zucchini (or any summer squash), sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 small cloves garlic
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 5 basil leaves
  • 1 heaping tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts or pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 to 2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Additional mint and basil, torn, to garnish
  • Ricotta and your favorite bread (optional, for serving)

Directions:

  1. Heat half of your olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add half the zucchini and sauté, flipping and turning every few minutes, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Don’t salt them yet!
  2. While your zucchini cooks, chop together the garlic, mint, basil, and capers so that they intermingle and turn into a sort of knife pesto.
  3. When the zucchini is golden, remove it from the pan and cook the remaining zucchini in the remaining oil, just as you did the first batch. Then add the first batch back into the pan, along with the herb-garlic mixture and the vinegar, to taste. Taste for salt; add a good pinch, plus a few cracks of pepper. Toss well.
  4. Scoop everything out onto a serving plate. Right before serving, sprinkle on the nuts and extra herbs as a garnish. I like to carve out a corner of my serving dish, dollop on a big pile of ricotta, and serve everything together with thick slices of crusty bread. It also makes for some mean crostini.

 

Tabouleh (Taboulli) 

Boy do I love tabouleh!  I first had it while backpacking with a bunch of picky teenagers who always seemed to skip the tabouleh meal, but I did not complain because it made me into a happy camper!  However, trail tabouleh is not nearly as good as fresh homemade tabouleh.  At home, there are fresh herbs and tomatoes aplenty that allow for little bulgur and high amounts of everything else.  This recipe is rather traditional in the sense that it is very heavy on the herbs, almost like a mint and parsley salad.  Definitely a great pick me up on a hot summer day!  I will warn you, tabouleh is best the day it is made, after that the herbs will start to turn.

Ingredients:

• 3 tablespoons (30g) fine bulgur
• 3 medium (600g) firm ripe tomatoes, diced into small cubes
• 2 (50g) spring onions or scallions, trimmed and very thinly sliced
• 14 ounces (400g) flat-leaf parsley, most of the stalks discarded, leaves washed and dried
• 2 cups (20g) mint leaves (no stems), washed and dried
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (or Lebanese seven-spice mixture)
• 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
• salt to taste
• juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
• 2/3 cup (150ml) extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Rinse the bulgur in several changes of cold water. Drain well and put in a bowl. Stir it with a fork every now and then to help it fluff up.

2. Put the diced tomatoes in a bowl and set aside while you prepare the herbs. A word of warning: do not chop the herbs with a mezzaluna. This will only bruise them.

Using a razor-sharp knife, grab as much of the parsley and mint as you can handle in a bunch, and slice them very thin, to end up with nice, crisp slender strips.

3. Drain the tomatoes of their juice and put in a large bowl. Add the spring onion and herbs. Sprinkle the bulgur all over. Season with the cinnamon, allspice and pepper. Add salt to taste. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Serve immediately.

**I also add diced up cucumber and black olives to accompany the tomato

 

Summer Squash Soup

Just in case you all are still swimming in summer squash, have another recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 lb yellow summer squash, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow-fleshed potato (1/2 pound), peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups broth

Directions:

1. Melt butter in a 6- to 8-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat, then cook onion with salt, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add squash, carrots, potato, and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool soup, uncovered, 10 minutes.

2. Working in batches, puree; soup in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids) and transfer to a bowl. Return purée to cleaned pot and thin with water if desired; simmer 3 minutes. Season with salt.


 

Kids Corner + Salsa!

Joke of the week:

“Why did the tomato blush?”

“Because he saw the salad dressing!”

Scissor Salsa 

Get your kids in the kitchen with their very own kitchen tool: a pair of safety scissors!

Ingredients:

  •  Handful of cherry/grape tomatoes
  • 2-3 small sweet peppers
  • 8 sprigs of cilantro
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1.  Remove the stem and seeds from the peppers, cut them into long slices. Best for parents to slice the pepper open and then let the kids cut into pieces.

2. Use scissors to cut the tomatoes, cilantro, and onion. Once again, parents cut into slices and allow for kids to cut into pieces with scissors.

3.  Add the garlic by crushing it in a garlic press or with a mortar and pestle.

4. Add the olive oil, salt, and lime juice. Mix by crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

5. Eat with tortilla chips.

Enjoy!

 

I will send you all off with another fun video.  Don’t you wish you had one of these for the fourth of July last week?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsgSjFjdHs0

 

Season’s Eatings!

-Jess

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