Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CSA Week 16

Here is what's in the share this week:

Swiss Chard
Heirloom Tomatoes
Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
Sweet Peppers
Hot Peppers
Husk Cherries
Red Onions

*Each week we are happily surprised by the continued production of our heirloom tomatoes, but the week will come when the plants are no longer producing enough fruit to supply the CSA. If you want to use some of the current abundance to prepare for a day beyond the end of tomato season, consider making tomato sauce and either freezing or canning it. Here's a sample recipe, but experimentation is encouraged:

4 1/2 pounds heirloom tomatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chopped garlic
4 cups diced onions
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup red wine
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 chopped fresh basil
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Submerge the tomatoes for about 10 seconds; remove and peel the tomatoes with a paring knife or your fingers. Don't remove seeds or juice--it's from these areas that a tomato gets a lot of its flavor. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add onions and salt, stir to coat, cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat to prevent burning, until soft and golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and oregano and cook, stirring often, 2 to 4 minutes.

Pour in wine and vinegar; bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits with a spoon. Cook until reduced slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and any juice; return to simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are mostly broken down, about 25 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Stir in basil and pepper. Transfer the sauce, in batches, to a blender or food processor. For a smoother sauce, blend all of it. For a chunkier sauce, blend 1/2 and combine the the unblended portion.

This sauce can be eaten fresh, or preserved by freezing or canning. Freezing is the easiest and most risk-free option, but if you want to try canning, refer to this blog post by a friend of the farm. The post is specifically about fruit, but it mentions the basics and includes links for further information.

*The corn this week is from Sunshine Farm in Sherborn. We're happy to be supporting another local farm business; please see the Week 14 post for information about our decision to buy sweet corn rather than grow it ourselves.

*This is the last week that fennel will be in the share, which means it is the last time this season you will wonder what to do with fennel. Make amends for past uncertainty with either of these recipes, both from Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables:

Sauteed Fennel With Lemon

"As basic, useful, and versatile as simply sauteed peppers, mushrooms, or snow peas--any or all of which will enhance it, as variations."

2 medium fennel bulbs
2 Tbsp olive oil or butter
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
pepper to taste

Trim and reserve fennel leaves (and cut off and reserve top stalks). Quarter each bulb lengthwise; cut each quarter crosswise in very thin slivers. Mince 1 Tbsp of the fine leaves.

Heat oil in large, heavy skillet; toss fennel slices to coat. Add salt. Continue tossing frequently over moderate heat, until tender--about 10 minutes.

Toss with lemon zest and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with minced tops.

Fennel a la Grecque

1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup dry vermouth
2 large garlic cloves, halved
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1 tiny dried hot chili-pepper, or 1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 medium fennel bulbs
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
Lemon Slices

Combine water, vermouth, garlic, fennel seeds, thyme, bay leaf, chili (crumbled), salt, and sugar in saucepan. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Let stand, covered, until ready to use.

Trim and discard fennel stalks, saving feathery leaves. Trim base of bulb slightly without removing core. Cutting across as you would a loaf of bread, progressing from one short side to the other, make even slices 1/4-1/2 inch wide.

Heat oil in wide skillet (12 inches or more). On moderately low heat brown slices lightly in single layer, turning once, about 10 minutes.

Remove garlic from prepare bouillon and discard; add liquid to fennel with lemon juice. Cover and simmer very gently 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer about 15 minutes, or until fennel is very tender.

Cool. Gently lift slices into serving dish. Pour liquid over. Cover and chill.

To serve, snip fennel leaves and sprinkle on top. Arrange lemon slices over all.

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