CSA Newsletter – Week 13
In addition to writing these newsletters and working our farmers markets, my main summer task is running food processing at the farm. We roast all of the tomatoes and peppers that don’t sell at market and freeze them for future use. The tomatoes get used to make our salsa, the pizza sauce in our restaurant, and even get sold to restaurants throughout the Portland and Corvallis areas. Our roasted peppers are even more of a delicacy, used to make Romesco sauce in our restaurant and sold to other restaurants as well. But we don’t stop there! We also blanch and freeze our sweet corn, turn cabbage into sauerkraut, and make pesto out of various greens (not just basil).
Watching food go to waste is a terrible sensation, one that we try our best to avoid. If you ever find yourself having a hard time using up the produce in your box during this peak of abundance, think about what you can put away for the winter. Roasting and freezing bags of sweet peppers allows you to make Romesco sauce in the dead of winter when there are no peppers in sight. If you’re into canning, you could roast up some tomatoes and make a marinara sauce.
I’m sure some of you are seasoned home-canners who know a whole lot more than I do. But if you’re new to food processing, look up some recipes on Ball Preserving Website. Just a few years ago I didn’t know how can at all, let alone even make a small batch of something, until I just started trying things out on my own—all I had was the Ball preservation book. And now I’m a professional food processor! Okay, so maybe that’s not your goal, but it makes my point nonetheless—anyone can learn how to do anything if they want to. So don’t miss out on the last few weeks of summer bounty, and see if you can preserve some to enjoy this winter.
-Laura Bennett, firstname.lastname@example.org
Table of Box Contents
- Yellow Watermelon
- Italian Pepper—sweet and crisp, great raw or sautéed.
- Pimiento Pepper
- Yellow Bell Pepper
- Red Potatoes
- Bunched Beets
- Red Torpedo Onion
- Sweet Onion—The high sugar content makes these perfect for caramelizing in a sauté.
- Summer Squash
- Cherry Tomatoes
Roasted Beets, Avocado, and Sunflower Seed Salad
- 1 lb Beets, with greens attached
- olive oil
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup salted roasted sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup lightly packed roughly chopped flat-leaf basil leaves
- 4 scallions, sliced at a sharp angle
- 1/2 cup pickled peppers, lightly packed, seeded, and chopped such as pepperoncini
- 2 firm-ripe avocados
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Trim the tops and bottoms off the beets. Wash the greens and let dry. Rinse and scrub the beets to remove any mud or grit. Cut up any larger beets so that they are all about the same size.
Put the beets in a baking dish that’s large enough to accommodate all of them in a single layer. Season with salt, then pour ¼ cup water into the dish. Cover tightly with foil and steam roast until the beets are tender when pierced with a knife. Depending on the size, density, and age of the beets, this could take between 30-60 minutes.
Meanwhile, if you have beet greens to cook, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil, add the beet greens, and toss them until they are wilted and a bit stewed, about 5 minutes. Set aside until cool, then chop through them a few times.
When the beets are tender, let them cool until you can handle them, then rub or pare away the skins. Cut into ½-inch wedges or chunks and pile into a bowl. Add the greens.
While the beets are still warm, sprinkle with the vinegar, ½ tsp salt, and many twists of black pepper. Toss to distribute the seasonings and let the beets absorb the vinegar for a few minutes. Add a healthy glug of olive oil and toss again. Let the beets sit at room temp until you’re ready to serve.
To assemble for serving, add the sunflower seeds, parsley, scallions, and pickled peppers and toss gently. Peel the avocados and cut them into neat chunks that are about the same size as the beet wedges, and add them to the beets, too. Toss thoroughly but very gently, so you don’t mash the avocado too much. Taste and adjust with more salt, pepper, vinegar, or oil. Serve right away.
Special Note—Always dress cooked roots and potatoes while they’re still warm. The acidic ingredients will be absorbed more deeply, making your final dish nicely bright.
Adapted from SunBasket.com
- “The first time most people taste Romesco sauce, they proclaim that they want to eat it on absolutely everything. Spicy and a little sweet, nutty and smoky, chunky yet smooth — it’s a sauce that appeals to most of our taste buds and senses.
Most traditional recipes include roasted sweet peppers, tomatoes, almonds, stale bread, olive oil and a touch of sherry vinegar. But you can make any variety with the basic elements — mostly peppers, a tomato, a nut, an acid, an oil, and a thickener. Some of our favorite varieties include toasted hazelnuts, roasted garlic, lemon, and sunflower oil. Make it fancy by throwing in some smoked paprika and fennel or brighten it with a little basil and parsley." (I usually caramelize a sweet onion slowly in a frying pan and add that into the mix too—LB)
- roasted garlic
- lemon juice
- sunflower oil
- smoked paprika optional
- fennel optional
- basil (to garnish)
- parsley (to garnish)
To make, start by roasting your peppers and a tomato or two in a 375°F oven until just charred — this is what gives the base flavor.
Once the vegetables are done and have slightly cooled, remove the charred skins, seeds and cores from the peppers and discard.
Then throw everything in the blender with an oil and acid of choice and puree until mostly smooth with a few chunks. Stir in the spices and add salt and pepper to taste. Andale, get creative!
"With Roman origins and a claim to the Catalan region of Spain, Romesco is a sauce with as many variations as applications. It’s a perfect paring for grilled shrimp, fish and vegetables or as a spread for sandwiches and burgers. Some might even eat it alone with a spoon. At Sun Basket, we prefer it on a big, juicy steak.”