Let’s start with the important stuff this week. Do you see what I see?!? TOMATOES! I was extra excited to see these in our share Tuesday night. My friends and I had were talking about menus for the week, and Bethany said she was going to make bruschetta, which sounded like a really good idea, except for the fact that the tomatoes in my garden are completely green. And no one should make bruschetta with grocery store tomatoes in July.
Our CSA came through for me though, with four beautiful tomatoes! So, bruschetta it is. I actually think it will make a good snack next week at Airventure, as long as I prep the bread at home before we go.
Here’s the rundown for week 6:
2 small heads of fennel
1 pound of green and yellow beans
1 head of cauliflower
1 summer squash
1 bunch of garlic scapes
The cucumbers are probably going to wind up in our cooler next week. The scapes are destined for pesto, and I am probably going to caramelize the fennel. We started eating through our kohlrabi stash this week, so now I am down to just three in the fridge. I took my sister-in-law’s advice and oven-roasted them with olive oil, salt and pepper. They were all right, but I may turn the next batch into fritters.
I’ll probably roast the cauliflower, since that’s our favorite way to enjoy it. As for the onion, well, I put onion is almost everything, so I’m sure it will be consumed rather quickly. I’d like to use the zucchini and summer squash in this galette.
Which brings us to the green beans. When they are fresh from the garden, they are one of my favorites. I steamed some with dinner the other night, and I’ve been taking a handful to work each day for easy snacking. Between our garden, the CSA and our generous neighbors, we have a LOT of green beans in the fridge. I might get to can some for winter enjoyment at this rate!
Whew. We made it to the end of August. Things have been a little quiet on the blog lately, thanks to our ridiculous summer schedule. The last couple of weeks have been full of produce triage (canning peaches, making jam, blanching and freezing carrots, making refrigerator pickles, just to name a few things) and vacation prep. Andy and I are getting ready to hit the road again for a couple weeks of boot camptraining relaxation. (Our vacations tend to include a LOT of hiking up mountains. He calls it relaxing; I call it work. Now, the time in the hammock with a book? That’s relaxing. Anyway…)
I don’t have a lot of new “this is what I did with the veggies” things to share, but we did have one five-star home run dish with the produce over the last few weeks. Martha Stewart came through for us with a zucchini-orzo-corn-feta salad. It was amazing. I made half a batch (with a full amount of feta cheese), and we had enough for dinner and a couple of lunches. It was so, so good. And don’t look now, but even Mr. I Dislike Pasta Salad loved it. Maybe he’s turning a corner… 😉
Green bell peppers
I’m going to be the first to admit that I couldn’t come up with an idea for the eggplant. It’s a challenging vegetable for me. I was going to roast it and turn it into dip, but time got away from me. Thankfully, my friend Karen loves eggplant, so I sent it home with her so it wouldn’t rot in the fridge while we’re gone.
I’ve been trying to work as much produce as possible into our camping meals (easier said than done when you need to fit two weeks’ worth of gear into a Nissan Versa). Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
Homemade pico di gallo to go with our rice and bean meal (also used some of those jalapenos! Win-win!)
Tomatoes (for burgers and pizza)
Apples (for trail/road food)
We’re also taking green beans to have with a couple of meals, so I won’t feel nearly as bad about the massive amounts of chex mix that we’ll be eating on the trail. 😉 By the end of the trip, we’ll be down to things like spaghetti and rice and beans (you know, stuff that keeps well without a refrigerator).
I’m taking Kirsten’s advice and having my friend Bethany pick up our CSA share while we’re gone. After all, I’d hate to see the food go to waste. So, you may get lucky enough to hear from Bethany about her experiences with our veggies too!
Remember me? You know, the long-lost blogger who has been MIA most of the summer? I’m going to blame my latest absence on our two-week vacation to Maine and New Hampshire, OK? And, for what it’s worth, I thought about blogging on our trip, but somehow never got around to it. (It’s the thought that counts, right?) We thoroughly enjoyed our time off and did our very best to eat New England out of seafood, ice cream and wild blueberries. I kid you not – we picked this vacation solely because blueberries were in season. See?
We were lucky enough to pick up some tomatoes from Andy’s parents on our way home from Maine, and we spent a steamy Friday evening processing tomatoes. (Literally. It was 80+ outside when we got started, and with three cauldrons pots of boiling water, our kitchen turned into a sauna in no time at all.) We put up 7 quarts and 27 pints of tomatoes, so I think we’re going to call that good for the year.
In other news, I feel like this has been the summer of the zucchini for me. I don’t remember receiving nearly as many zucchini and summer squash in our CSA last year. And while we love our fritters, I can only handle so much of the same thing. (Unless that same thing is chocolate. I have yet to reach my limit there.) So when this recipe popped up in my Facebook feed, I figured it was worth a try… after I made a few modifications, that is. I eliminated the mushrooms (still don’t like them, sorry Mom!), added sausage (I tried it with bacon as well, but it’s better with sausage), added some broccoli and onions, and used Swiss chard instead of spinach.
And… we have a keeper here. It’s filling and hearty without being too heavy. It’s loaded with summer veggies, which helps keep the crisper drawer under control. The leftovers reheat well too. As Andy likes to say, “Who wouldn’t want this?!” 😀
Zucchini / Summer Squash Pasta Bake
8 ounces penne pasta, uncooked
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium-large zucchini or summer squash, sliced and cut into half-moons
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium head of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
6 ounces spinach or Swiss chard, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chicken stock
3 ounces cooked sausage, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 ounces cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, cut into 1″ chunks
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 375. Lightly oil a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, saute the onions until they begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini and garlic and saute for another minute or two, until the zucchini begins to brown. Add the flour to the pan and cook for a minute or so, stirring often. Add the spices to the pan, and then add the stock, scraping up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the broth has thickened and cheese has melted, about 1-2 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the broccoli about 3 minutes before the pasta is done. Drain the cooked pasta and broccoli and set aside.
Spread the pasta and broccoli mixture into the prepared baking pan. Stir in the zucchini mixture, sausage, Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and spinach/chard. Gently stir until pasta is coated and everything is well-combined. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta.
Bake, uncovered, until cheese is browned and bubbly and mixture is heated through, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and serve hot.
August? Seriously? When did that happen? Crazy stuff. Let’s not focus on the fact that summer is flying by. Instead, let’s talk about the awesomeness of sweet corn and blueberries. And we should also talk about the new recipe I found for zucchini/summer squash – it’s a little more involved than fritters, but it’s definitely worth it. 🙂
Anyway… here’s the latest from our CSA.
Week 6 included four ears of sweet corn (YAY!), three cucumbers, red onions, a zucchini and a summer squash, two heads of red lettuce, blueberries and a kohlrabi that weighed 3 1/4 POUNDS. Holy kohlrabi. (It’s still taking up a crazy amount of space in my crisper drawer.)
Week 7 included six ears of sweet corn, two summer squash, one zucchini, a head of broccoli, a red onion, two cucumbers, a pound of snap peas, and, in keeping with the previous week’s theme of overly large vegetables, a FIVE POUND cabbage. Coleslaw, anyone?
As far as the corn goes, it’s safe to say that I won’t be turning it into ice cream anytime soon. Pass the butter and salt, OK? I may try a batch of refrigerator pickles with the cucumber, and it’s safe to say that we’ll be snacking on snap peas for the next week or so. I need to either start shredding and freezing my zucchini or make a lot more zucchini bread and fritters. 😉 I discovered that summer squash does not keep nearly as well as zucchini (even in my food saver bags!), so I think I will make another batch of this pasta. I made a heavily-altered version of it last week, and Andy rated it as a five. I will do my best to photograph the next batch and share it soon, but in case you’re wondering, these were my tweaks:
Switched spinach for Swiss chard (because of garden availability)
Switched mushrooms for broccoli (because we aren’t into fungus around here)
Sauteed onions with the squash
Used penne pasta instead of rigatoni
Added three ounces of cooked sausage for extra flavor and bulk
We loved it, and I felt like it used quite a bit of the veggies in the fridge. I may try it with bacon next time. 🙂
One last piece of summer news: Our tomatoes are ALMOST ripe. I am hoping for BLTs in another week or so.
Two weeks in one post! That’s a sure sign that my summer is getting busier by the minute, and I don’t see things slowing down anytime soon. After all, we are coming up on the most wonderful time of the year, at least in my world. Plus, things are booming in my garden and with our CSA, and because I’m a glutton for punishment we love our fruit, I ordered massive amounts of blueberries again this year. They’ll probably show up about the same time as the airplanes. Thank goodness blueberries are easy to process.
Here’s a recap of the last two weeks of CSA goodness.
Week 4 brought us summer squash, zucchini, shelling peas, one bunch of kale, a head of broccoli, a bunch of beets and two cucumbers. The fennel was my “what am I going to do with this?” item of the week. I ended up roasting it with Parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt and pepper. While it was definitely edible, I don’t think it’s in line for our favorite veggie anytime soon. I sauteed the beet greens (still have the beets in the fridge), and I am saving the kale for another batch of chips, I think. (Maybe tomorrow, since it’s cooling down a bit here.) In an attempt to eat more vegetables during the day, I sliced the cucumbers and packed them in our lunches during the week.
The real wins though, were the new recipes for the zucchini and summer squash. I didn’t have a chance to make fritters, and my fridge was dangerously close to being overrun by squash, so I went looking for some new ideas. I made zucchini muffins (complete with chocolate chips, per Andy’s request), and a savory squash bread, loaded with Parmesan cheese. The muffins were good, but the cheese bread was amazing. We ate it all before I could take a picture, but I am sure that I’ll make this bread again, so I’m sure to share it here sooner or later.
OK, so here’s week five. More lettuce. More kale. More broccoli. More squash and zucchini. (Can you say fritters and bread? Again?) The pickles and beans were the newbies this week. (Yay! I’m going to make this potato and bean salad with the beans!) The kale is headed for chipville, and we have been eating the lettuce on burgers and sandwiches. (I learned that lettuce, while great on a BLT, isn’t really ideal on a grilled cheese. What can I say? I’m just trying to use up the stuff!) I plan on “quick pickling” the pickles with our go-to recipe, although this idea intrigues me.
I also have a giant bag of green beans from our garden, and I can’t decide if we should just keep snacking on them or if I should can them. It’s probably enough to get four quarts… is that worth heating up the kitchen with giant kettles of water? Decisions, decisions….
I can’t wait to see what comes next! I’m hoping for tomatoes and sweet corn! 🙂
No doubt about it, summer is here! (As if the constant sunshine and 80 degree temps weren’t enough to clue you in… we’re having a beautiful summer so far. Sorry to everyone in Ohio who’s feeling a little soggy lately. Or everyone broiling in the southwest. Come to Wisconsin. You’ll like it here.)
This week’s CSA was the most bountiful by far, and I was beyond excited about our goodies.
You’re looking at a pound of green beans, a pound of sugar snap peas, a pound of regular peas, three cucumbers, two summer squash, two zucchini, a head of lettuce and a bundle of rhubarb. And I thought rhubarb was done for the season! (Makes me wonder if I should still be picking from my rhubarb plants.)
As you can see, more salad is on the menu for us, and I’m going to turn the cucumbers into quick pickles – hopefully I’ll get around to sharing that recipe this year!
I don’t have any specific plans for the peas and beans yet. Peas are one of Andy’s favorites, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE green beans, so we may enjoy them just as they are, in their pure, unadulterated greatness.
I tried to make a cold zucchini salad with the two zucchini, and it was not well received. Andy’s words were, “Don’t you make fritters out of zucchini? You have a rock star, why try something else?” So we’re going to attempt to make lemonade out of lemons – or fritters out of salad, in this case. I’ll drain off the liquid from the leftover salad, chop the ribbons into slivers, add an egg and some flour and then try to fry them up! The summer squash will probably get fritterized as well. 🙂
I have no idea how I’m going to use the rhubarb yet… especially since I wasn’t expecting it at all! It’s like the snow day of our produce box – an unexpected but totally appreciated bonus!
Zucchini. I’m convinced that you either love it or you hate it. As a child, I definitely fell into the “hate it” category. Maybe it’s the fact that it gets mushy when you saute it. Or maybe it was all those hours turning the crank on the food mill to create “zucchini relish” for my mom. I’m still not a fan of zucchini bread, muffins or brownies. (Yes, I can taste the zucchini. No, I don’t want green things in my brownies.)
Then, a couple of summers ago, something wonderful happened. One of our friends made zucchini pancakes for dinner. (Yes, I was completely weirded out by this. I trust Josiah’s taste in food though, so I gave them a try.) And wouldn’t you know it, they were good. (Side note: I think this is similar to my childhood and teenage aversion to squash and sweet potatoes, which are usually overly sweet. Keep the veggies simple and savory, people!)
Good thing I changed my mind, since we’ve received several zucchini in our CSA share. Aside from grilling a few pieces, they’ve all been fritterized.
1 pound (about 2 medium) zucchini
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 scallions, thinly sliced (feel free to substitute onions if your scallions have unexpectedly turned slimy)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste
Olive oil, for frying
Using a box grater (or a food processor, if you’d like to avoid shredding off the tip of your finger…), shred the zucchini into coarse strips. Place the zucchini in a large bowl and toss with salt. Set zucchini aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the egg, scallions, pepper, garlic and cheese in a bowl. Preheat oven to 200 and place a cookie sheet in the oven.
Scoop the zucchini on to a thin, dry, clean (Get one out of the drawer. Do not use the one that has been hanging on the dishwasher for 3 days!) dish towel. Roll up the towel and wring the extra water out of the zucchini. (Do this over the sink, obviously.) Alternatively, you could put it in a colander and press the zucchini against the sides to extract water. I think I get more out with the towel method.
Place the zucchini back into the bowl and stir in the egg mixture. Once the egg has been stirred in, put the flour and baking powder in the bowl. Mix until just combined.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, drop large tablespoons of zucchini batter in the pan. Flatten slightly with the back of a spatula. Cook until the bottom is golden brown (about 4 minutes), then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown.
Remove cooked fritters from the pan and place on the cookie sheet in oven. Repeat the process with the remaining zucchini batter.
Serve with sour cream for dipping.*
*See Smitten Kitchen’s original post for other topping ideas. Andy forgoes the sour cream (no shock to those who know him!), and I eat them either way.