CSA Newsletter – Week 16
Salt and Pepper
Welcome to fall, everyone! I just started back at OSU, and I am so grateful to be spending my time studying the history of food, something that I cannot wait to share with you all. Last week I learned all about the history of various spices and how they literally changed the world, but what stood out most to me was the amazing stories behind the most common things on the table—salt and pepper.
It seems like salt and pepper have always been there, no matter what culture or era you’re from, but apparently the two ingredients couldn’t have more different histories. There is no record of when humans first started using salt on food, though the ways in which we use salt has changed drastically over time. In some cultures, rather than sprinkling salt into food, each guest at the table would have a small salt block to lick throughout the meal.
Pepper, on the other hand, has a history much richer than one would expect, and it didn’t join salt on the table until the Romans were in power. Back then, food was treated as a vehicle for spices, and one’s wealth was measured by how many spices they could afford to use. The trade routes from India and the Molucca Islands (where peppercorns and most other spices are still grown) were extremely long, thus leading to extremely high prices. This led to the first major separation of classes in the Western world; suddenly the royalty, who had been more or less living similarly to the peasants, found themselves eating decadently-seasoned food and wearing silks.
In fact, it was the high price on spices, primarily peppercorns, that led hundreds of adventurers to search for a cheaper trade route by sea. One of those explorers was Christopher Columbus, who obviously did not succeed in finding the trade route to India. But it’s crazy to think that he never would have gone to the New World had pepper simply been cheaper. How different would things have been? Just something to ponder as you eat your way through this week’s box.
-Laura Bennett, email@example.com
Table of Box Contents
- Acorn Squash—When I was growing up my mother would bake acorn squash halves with brown sugar, butter, and bacon inside. It was amazing, I won’t lie, but if you’re looking for a healthier alternative, see the recipe on back.
- Poblano Pepper—This pepper is most commonly used to make Chiles Rellenos, as it has a chipotle-like flavor.
- Sweet Italian Peppers
- Yellow Potatoes
- Bunched Turnips—We grow a variety of turnips at the farm, so you can see which variety ends up in your box. If you get purely white turnips, the entire bunch is sweet and delicious. Be sure to eat the stems and greens! If you get purple-top turnips, the stems and greens are a little on the bitter side and would be best blended into a soup rather than eaten.
- Bunched Purple Haze Carrots
- Medusa Kale—This kale is known for being particularly purple, though the color intensifies with the colder weather, so it may still be green yet. Sauté with potatoes, a poblano pepper, and top with fried eggs for a warm, autumnal breakfast.
- Thyme—Fresh thyme is a wonderful treat, but if you can’t use up the whole bunch don’t fret. Just let it hang in your kitchen to dry, and then put it in soups, or crunch the leaves off into a jar for use on a later date.
- Sweet Onion—This time of year I love making grilled cheese sandwiches with a layer of caramelized sweet onions inside.
- Superstar Onion—Nice acidic flavor, perfect raw on salads and sandwiches.
Roasted Roots w/ Maple Syrup, Black Pepper, and Thyme
“This dish begs to be served with a pork chop.”
- 1 bunch Turnips, stems removed, trimmed, and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
- 1/2 bunch Purple Carrots, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/4 bunch thyme, minced
- 1 tsp dried chile flakes
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Toss the turnip cubes with a nice glug of olive oil and season generously with salt and black pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast until fully tender and lightly browned, 25-30 minutes.
Pile into a bowl, sprinkle with the vinegar, and toss to distribute. Let the turnips absorb the vinegar for a minute. Add the maple syrup, thyme, and chile flakes and toss. Taste and adjust with more salt and pepper if needed.
Roasted Acorn Squash w/ Yogurt, Walnuts, and Spiced Green Sauce
“Such a stunning dish, and with so little work. I look for a mix of squash that will have differently shaped slices so that you get some drama on the platter.”
- 1 1/2 cups yogurt
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 lbs winter squash
- olive oil
- 2 tbsp slightly sweet white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup walnuts, lightly roasted, roughly chopped
- Spicy Pesto, hot sauce, or Spiced Green Sauce (below)
Mix the yogurt withthe garlic, lemon zest, and 1/4 tsp salt. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Trim off the top and bottom of the squash, then peel away the skin with a paring knife or sturdy vegetable peeler. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and fibers with a stiff spoon, and cut the squash into ½ inch slices.
Toss the squash, either in a large bowl or directly on a rimmed baking sheet, with 2 Tbsp of olive oil and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Spread out on one or two rimmed baking sheets, and roast until tender and nicely browned on the underside, 20-40 minutes depending on the texture of the squash. Let the squash cool slightly on the baking sheet (s).
Arrange the squash slices on a platter, spoon a ribbon of yogurt on top, and then sprinkle with vinegar. Drizzle/spoon the pesto/hot sauce over the squash so it looks pretty. Scatter the walnuts on the dish and finish with a few drops of olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Spiced Green Sauce
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- seeds from 4 green cardamom pods
- 1/2 cup Poblano, minced
- 1-3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 2 cups cilantro leaves, packed
- 2 cups parsley leaves, packed
- pinch ground cloves
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Put coriander, cumin, and cardamom into a dry skillet and toast lightly about 4 min, shaking pan regularly. Dump into mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind.
Blend everything including your ground spices into a food processor and pulse until all is finely chopped into a rough puree, drizzling in olive oil as you blend.
Add more salt and pepper to taste and store in fridge up to one week.