CSA Newsletter – Week 6
The Life of a GTF Tomato
Before I worked at this farm I had no idea why organic produce was more expensive than conventional. Conventional herbicides and pesticides are really expensive, so to me it seemed like it should balance out that organic doesn’t spend money on expensive chemicals but spends more on labor. What I have come to understand is that the issue is so much more than just a question of organic vs. inorganic. Methods of production is a huge factor in differentiating our farm from others. As an example, this is an extremely abbreviated list of all the work that goes into producing a GTF tomato. The full version is available on our blog.
- Seed selection—takes years of farming knowledge
- Seeding—make compost, make potting mix from that compost, seed the tomatoes, graft them, up-pot them, and plan for disease rotation in the fields.
- Grafting—grow disease-resistant rootstock and splice desired varieties on top and let graft union heal.
- House preparation—soil testing, ground tillage, irrigation installation, plastic mulch installation, trellising installation
- Transplanting—we transplant all our tomatoes by hand. Hundreds and hundreds
- Trellising & Pruning—as the plants grow we twist them around hanging strings and prune them as we would a perennial.
- Greenhouse Mudding—Either by hand or via a mud-cannon, we throw mud onto our hoop houses so the temps don’t get to crazy high for the plants in the summer.
- Weeding—regularly throughout the growing season.
- Pest & Disease Monitoring—throughout season
- Irrigation—constant vigilance!
- Harvest—It’s really hard to walk through a greenhouse packed 10 feet tall with tomato plants while carrying a flat that weighs 30 pounds!
- Grading—every tomato we harvest gets sorted by quality by hand, depending on where it’s destined to end up.
-Laura Bennett, firstname.lastname@example.org
Table of Box Contents
- Eggplant—“Eggplant may be the trickiest vegetable to cook, and therefore it can inspire some ambivalence. But when handled correctly, it is sublime.”—Joshua McFadden
- Jalapeño—They’re a little milder than they will be later in the season, which can be nice for certain dishes especially.
- Fennel—Use both the fronds and the bulb! The bulb is great grilled or roasted, or even slice thinly raw on top of meat. The fronds can make a delicious addition to pesto, salad, or soup.
- Chard—Chard, spinach, and beets are all cousins in the same plant family, and all can be used in similar ways.
- Carrots—sweet and wonderful raw or roasted with a little crunch still maintained.
- 2 Sweet Onions—High sugar content that makes them perfect for caramelizing, and they’re great roughly chopped in Pico de Gallo.
- Cucumbers—Eat fresh like an apple or slice into salads for a nice, sweet crunch.
- Summer Squash—Though there are many types of squash that are great for different dishes, all can be used interchangeably.
- 5 lbs New Potatoes—This week we have Nicola potatoes.
- Lettuce—Various varieties
- Tomatoes—Sweet & fresh!
Peak-of-Summer Roasted Ratatouille
From The CSA Cookbook. Though this dish is traditionally sautéed, roasting the vegetables brings out a richness and sweetness that you just don’t get from the stove top. Little more is needed than a generous glug of olive oil, a fresh sprig of rosemary, and some salt and pepper to marry the flavors while they caramelize. You can serve ratatouille as a side dish or make it a full meal with a loaf of crusty bread and a glass of red wine. Leftovers go great on a bed of mixed greens the next day.
- 1.5 lbs tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 lb summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 lb eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 yellow onion, cut lengthwise into eighths
- 10 garlic cloves, smashed with a knife
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 rosemary sprig (or another herb of choice)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400° F.
As you prepare all the vegetables, cut the tomatoes first and let them drain in a colander while you break down the remaining ingredients.
In a large bowl, gently toss all the vegetables with the garlic, oil, salt, and pepper until evenly coated.
Strip the leaves off the rosemary sprigs and scatter them on top.
Spread the vegetables across two large rimmed baking sheets in a single layer, with the tomatoes cut-side up. You want the vegetables packed in tightly, but not piled on top of each other.
Roast until most of the vegetables are soft, shriveled, and slightly browned, about 45 minutes. If your baking sheets are on two separate racks, swap their positions halfway through the roasting time for even cooking.
Transfer the vegetables and all their juices to a serving bowl and toss with the basil. Serve warm or chilled.
Caramelized Fennel and Onion
—Adapted from The CSA Cookbook by Linda Ly. Many people shy away from fennel, which they describe as having too strong of a licorice-like flavor. When you put that same fennel in the oven under high heat, however, its love-it-or-hate-it aroma mellows out into a warm slice of sweetness. Fennel bulb caramelizes beautifully the way onion does, turning soft and fragrant with only the slightest hint of anise. After a long roast, the sumptuous flavors of fennel and onion marry and make a deep, rich, and smoky sweet side to a savory steak.
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced lengthwise into 1-inch wedges
- 1 yellow onion, sliced lengthwise into 1-inch wedges
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
Preheat the oven to 425° F.
In a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the fennel and onion with the oil, salt, and pepper until thoroughly coated.
Scatter the vegetables across the baking sheet in a single layer and roast until golden brown and slightly charred on the edges, 35-45 minutes. Halfway through the roast, give the fennel and onion a quick stir for even caramelization on all sides.
Chard, Basil, and Boysenberry Salad w/ Hazelnuts
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
- 1 bunch Swiss Chard
- 1 bunch Fresh Basil
First, mince up some onion and smash with the back of a spoon in a large bowl with some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt. This changes the flavor of the dressing and you can smell this change almost instantly.
Then finely chop up your chard and basil (an entire bunch of each) and toss in the salad dressing. The longer the greens sit in the dressing the more soft and delicate they will become; I recommend serving at least twenty minutes after you finish making the salad.
Top with sliced up boysenberries (or any fruit, really!) and some chopped up hazelnuts. This is a wonderful salad to bring to parties as it only gets better with time.