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IMG_3415Last night’s garden harvest!

I looove roasted tomatoes. The fire-roasted tomatoes take tortilla soup to a whole new level with their smoky sweetness. We’re still harvesting several pounds of tomatoes from our garden every day – IN OCTOBER! I am finding all sorts of crazy things to do with them because I haven’t had time for much canning (or cooking for that matter) lately. It doesn’t get much easier than roasting the tomatoes, and, trust me, roasted tomatoes are much richer tasting than their non-roasted counterparts, especially for the soup and stew months ahead. So use this little trick to make some roasted tomatoes of your own.
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Oven-roasted tomatoes
Adapted from Food in Jars

Ingredients

Tomatoes of any variety – I have used this method with cherry tomatoes, Romas, heirloom varieties; all of which have turned out beautifully
A generous amount of olive oil
Fresh herbs of your choice (basil would be obvious here, but anything works. I also used a jalapeno for one batch that I’ll plan to use in chili)
Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. If using cherry tomatoes, just throw them in a glass baking dish. If you’re using a larger tomato, slice (or dice them – your preference) the tomatoes and lay them out in a glass baking dish. Dice or shred the herbs or peppers, and throw them in the baking dish. Pour the olive oil generously over the tomatoes (you want all of the tomatoes to be doused in olive oil) and salt and pepper. Put in the oven for 4-6 hours*. I’ve been doing these after dinner, so I usually put them in for two hours. Check on things, stir them around, put them in for another two hours. And then turn off the oven and let the tomatoes set in the warm oven overnight. Then I pack them into freezer-safe glass jars in the morning and throw them in the freezer. The whole process takes about 12 minutes of hands-on time, less if you’re using cherry tomatoes.

*Tip: the juicier tomatoes may take longer. You want to let them go until they begin to brown up just a bit like the ones in the picture.

I really don’t think too many of us have trouble using up tomatoes, but, by this point in the season, I am looking for some different ways to eat them, just to spice things up a bit (whereas in July, I have them with just salt and pepper for every meal of the day). These aren’t really recipes, so much as formulas, so play around with the flavors and ingredients based on what you have laying around and on what sounds good to you.

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Tomato-Cucumber Salad
A Sara Original

Ingredients:

A cup or two of cherry tomatoes, halved
Small red onion, diced
2-3 small cucumbers, diced
Handful of fresh basil or mint or oregano (we have all three in the garden, so I just pick on based on what sounds good, but really any fresh herb would be delicious), sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Splash of red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Throw all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir, barely.

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Heirloom Caprese Salad

A Sara Original (stolen from centuries of Italians)

Ingredients:

1 heirloom tomato, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1/4 cup feta (or fresh buffalo mozzarella for the more traditionalists)
Small handful of fresh basil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Assemble the tomatoes on a plate, followed by the onions, topped off with the cheese and basil. Dress with the oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper.

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Corn Salad
A Sara Original

Ingredients:

4 ears sweet corn, cooked and shucked (grilling the corn gives an even tastier, smokier flavor if you have time)
1 small red onion, diced
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1 jalapeno, diced (take out seeds for less spicy, leave them in for more heat)
Juice of one lime
1 tomato, diced
1 small bell pepper, diced
1 cup cilantro, chopped (or more, depending on your taste)
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Assemble all of the ingredients in a large bowl and stir carefully. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and jalapeno if necessary.

Now I’m hungry, so I think I’ll head out to the garden and see what I can scrounge up!

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Everyone always talks about having zucchini coming out of their ears, but I’ve never had that great of luck growing it. I must have a black thumb when it comes to zucs. I need to do some research. Fortunately, we’ve had plenty of zucchini (and other summer squash) from Victory Acres and from the farmer’s markets, so it’s not like we’ve gone without. Our favorite way to use zucchini is to shred it and use it in place of pasta in lasagna and other pasta dishes. We’ve made this dish close to once a week for much of the summer: we shred zucchini in the food processor, saute it in a large pan with some olive oil and basil for just about five minutes or so. Then we put some marinara or meat sauce on top.

For lasagna, I use a mandolin to slice the zucchini length-wise. For lasagna, I like to sweat the zucchini a bit, so it isn’t so watery. To do so, I slice it up, salt it, and then let it sit in a colander for at least an hour. I only have a picture of making it in a baked pasta dish, but the idea is the same for lasagna – you just use the zucchini “noodles” instead of the lasagna noodles (and no pre-cooking necessary of course). We find zucchini a much tastier pasta substitute than spaghetti squash, so I try to shred and freeze several bags of it for use throughout the winter as well.

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I also made some zucchini and sweet pepper relish (using this recipe), which turned out quite delicious. We’ve been eating it up on just about everything, but our favorite so far is in tuna and salmon salad.

I’m really the only one in the family that likes this raw zucchini salad, which is fine by me. The zucchini stays a little crunchy, which is nice for a change.

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Adapted from Food52

Ingredients

2 zucchini
Handful fresh basil or mint
Juice on one lemon
1 clove garlic, sliced
Splash of extra virgin olive oil (1 – 2 tbsp, to taste)
Salt and pepper

Directions

Cut the ends of the zucchini and slice it on the lowest setting on your mandolin (if you don’t have a mandolin, you can attempt to slice thinly with a knife instead). In a jar combine the remaining ingredients except the basil and shake well. Pour the dressing over the zucchini, add the basil, and gently stir to combine. Enjoy!

*More zucchini recipes here.

I love rainbow chard. It’s so pretty! And tasty and healthy too, but mostly just so pretty. I really only saute it in some olive oil and garlic because I think that’s the best way to play up its strengths, and I haven’t gotten sick of it yet. We’ve been using it as a base for burgers (at our dream restaurant, Grant says we’d call this “paleo on a plate”) in place of using buns, so here we tore up the chard, sauteed it in some garlic and olive oil, and then piled on top our burger and all of the fixins (sauteed mushrooms, red onions, bacon, avocados).

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We also eat a ton of eggs for lunch, so this is a pretty regular lunch around our house: sauteed chard (or kale or spinach) with a fried (local, happy chicken) egg on top.

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This has been our go-to lunch (and sometimes dinner) for pretty much all of July – local sweet corn, a cucumber sandwich, and some rainbow chard with eggs. Indiana summer on a plate!

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We love cucs around our house. Our cucumber plants did just alright this year. I talked to other gardener friends, and many of them said that their cucumber plants didn’t fare so well either. The plants did well, just didn’t produce much. I’m wondering if it’s just another consequence of the crisis facing our bees (and other pollinators). It’s one of those things that we need to address as communities, not just individuals. Most likely, pesticides play a significant role in the problem, but all of our neighbors use pesticides, so not using chemicals on our yard doesn’t help the bees much (although I do notice much more insect diversity in our yard than we had when we first moved her and were weaning off the pesticides and fertilizers).

At any rate, we find all sorts of things to do with the cucumbers that we did get from our garden – and the ones from Victory Acres too. Our favorite way to eat them is as cucumber sandwiches. I like lots of butter, cucs, and red onion on mine; Grant likes them with my tomato jam (recipe coming); Jasper likes one my way and one Grant’s way. I also love my mom/grandma’s cucumber salad – summer isn’t complete without it. I also make lots of jars of refrigerator pickles. I do can a few as well for the winter months, but the canning process makes them a little less crispy than I would like so I prefer the refrigerator method (plus, let’s be honest, I eat them so fast that canning them isn’t really worth it). You can even use the brine from your pickled veggies, or try this recipe below that I’ve been using.

DSC_0220Refrigerator pickles
Adapted from Food in Jars

Ingredients

8-10 small cucumbers
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced (keep the seeds if you want it spicy, leave them out for a milder version)
1 cup apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar – I used white this last batch because I ran out of ACV)
1 cup water
2 tsp dill seed
1 tsp peppercorns
2 tsp sea salt

Directions

Clean jars. This makes about three pints worth of pickles. Clean the cucumbers and chop off the ends. Slice them into spears (or slices if you prefer) and put them in the jars. Add the garlic, dill seed, peppercorns, onions, and jalapeno to the jars, splitting them up evenly among the cars. Combine the vinegar, water, and salt in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Pour the brine into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace at the top. Put the lids on and let them cool on the countertop before putting them in the refrigerator. They will keep in the fridge for a month (or three days at our house).

Wow, so we went on that vacation I mentioned. And I think my brain hasn’t really come back from vacation yet. I didn’t mean to skip out on you all month, but life just got a little crazy. I’m sure you can relate. At any rate, I’m back, and this is my favorite time of the year in Indiana…the sweet corn is here, the heirloom tomatoes are arriving daily, all of the hard garden work is paying off.

You’re most likely not getting broccoli in your CSA share at the end of July, but I took these pictures a few weeks ago and wanted to share them. Both methods would work great for green beans too, which we’ve been eating a ton of lately straight from the backyard.

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Roasted broccoli with garlic scape pesto
A Sara Original

Ingredients

1 large head of broccoli
Garlic scape pesto – I used about one ice cube tray’s worth (or about 2 tablespoons)
Oil of choice (I used grapeseed)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Clean and trim broccoli. Bring pesto to room temperature (if frozen). Put the trimmed broccoli in a bowl, and add just a tablespoon or two of the oil, mixing everything together. Spread the broccoli out on a baking sheet and throw in the oven for 10-12 minutes. As soon as you remove the broccoli from the oven, put it on a serving tray/dish, and mix in the garlic scape pesto. The heat from the broccoli will warm up the pesto, so it’s best served immediately.

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Honey sriracha broccoli
Barely adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

Ingredients

1 large head of broccoli, trimmed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons sriracha (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 green onion or chive, sliced
Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the green onion/chives and mix well. Pour the mixture over the broccoli and toss well to ensure the broccoli is coated.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a slipat mat or foil. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, sriracha and pepper. Pour this mixture over the broccoli and toss well to coat. Spread the coated broccoli on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10-12 minutes until the broccoli browns a bit (from the honey). Remove the broccoli from the oven, toss in the green onions or chives, and serve.

As I mentioned, both of these “recipes” work great with green beans. The garlic scape pesto is delicious over pretty much any roasted vegetable. We did cauliflower last week, and it was especially delicious.

I loooove garlic, so the few weeks that all of those garlic scapes come from the CSA are like Christmas. I think they taste like a green onion and a garlic clove had babies, which are really two of my favorite vegetables (alliums, but whatever), so my weird excitement is not all that surprising. I usually make garlic scape pesto, freeze it, and add it to salad dressings, pasta sauce, meat marinades, etc. I had a ton of garlic scapes though, so I decided to make a little dip, as well. I saved a few extra scapes to just add to salads and soups that I’ve made over the past few days. Since they’re milder than an actual garlic clove, they’re really versatile.

DSC_0001Garlic scape pesto
Adapted from Food52

Ingredients

1 cup garlic scapes
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Throw all of the ingredients except the olive oil in your food processor and pulse until everything is well blended. Then, with the processor on, pour in the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. I like to freeze my pesto in ice cube trays because that makes the perfect portions to add onto roasted veggies, mix with some extra oil for a salad dressing, spread on some tasty bread with some tomatoes for bruschetta, or to add a little something extra to pretty much any soup. Be adventurous!

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Creamy garlic scape dip
Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Ingredients

1/2 cup garlic scape pesto (above)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
Dollop of sour cream (optional)
Handful of Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Directions

I made the pesto, filled up an ice cube tray with it, and then used the leftover pesto in the food processor to make the dip to minimize the dishes. Just add the yogurt and sour cream (if using) to the food processor, and mix thoroughly. Serve with veggies or pita chips as a dip. Or we used this on baked potatoes, which was delicious. I also mixed it in with the yolks of some hard boiled eggs for deviled eggs too, which was super easy and tasty too. Feel free to experiment!

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20130612-193249.jpgI’m going to try to share what we do with our CSA share from Victory Acres each week here. It won’t be fancy and probably won’t be all that consistent, but I’ll do my best. Please share what YOU do with your share in the comments!

We used up the rainbow chard, asparagus, and some of the garlic scapes and oregano all in one dinner. I first got started on the asparagus and broccoli (not from the CSA but we had some of that for dinner too). Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and put your baking sheet(s) in the oven to preheat as well. While that’s going on, prep your asparagus. These were so fresh and pretty that I just snipped off the ends and washed them off. My favorite way to cook asparagus is just with some simple olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper. So after prepping them, I put them in a shallow bowl and added about 2-3 tbsp olive oil, plus a few cloves of minced garlic and some salt and pepper. Then just mix everything all around in your bowl to ensure that the asparagus is well-coated. Once the oven is preheated, take out your baking sheet and dump the contents of the bowl on the baking sheet – spreading the asparagus out a bit to make sure they aren’t on top of each other. I like my asparagus al dente, so I only roasted them about six minutes, but experiment to see what you like best. I finished them off with a little squeeze of fresh lemon, but that’s totally optional. (Side note: I prepped the broccoli the same way except they needed about 12-15 total minutes in the oven).

20130612-193239.jpgI love rainbow chard. It’s so pretty and healthy looking. We made burgers last night, so we wanted to use the chard as our “bun,” but there wasn’t quite enough for all of us, so I added some organic baby spinach that I had on hand. This is our family’s favorite quick and easy way to add some greens to any meal – it works perfectly with kale, chard, spinach, or really any leafy green. Wash and dry your greens (this is where a salad spinner is indispensable and probably our most-used kitchen appliance besides the dishwasher). I just tore up some of the larger pieces of chard and left the smaller pieces as-is. Then heat up some fat of your choice (I used coconut oil here). Once the oil is shimmering a bit at a high heat, dump in your greens. Then add your seasonings of choice: last night, I used some of the garlic scapes (diced) and fresh oregano (just torn up), as well as some garlic salt and fresh pepper. Continue stirring until your greens start to cook down a bit, then set the heat to low and cover the pan. The steam will finish off the greens.

For this meal, we put our burgers on top of the bed of chard/spinach and then just added the roasted asparagus and broccoli. I think, from start to finish, it took 25 minutes, but that was with me manning the veggies and Grant manning the grill!

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