Week #12 (8/18 & 21)

This week your basket contains: summer squash, cucumbers, sweet peppers, carrots, onions, garlic, Swiss chard, lettuce, tomatoes.

We heard an interesting summer squash tip on The Splendid Table on public radio. Take the sliced squash and braise it; sauté in olive oil, then add a little liquid (wine, broth, water) and cook until soft. This can be pureed and used as a side dish or further diluted and eaten as a soup. Flavor with herbs such as sage or thyme. We thought we might freeze this puree for the winter when we will miss zucchini (it’s going to happen!).

Things are growing fast despite the strange weather. We are at the point in the summer when we turn off the water to our tomatoes to encourage ripening. Plants that are in the soil will survive the drought and get serious about maturing the fruit that is already set. Tomatoes in pots need some water still, but it can be reduced to get the same effect. All our fall and overwintering broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower has been transplanted. We are starting to seed lettuce that will be transplanted into the hoop houses in a month for overwintering salad mixes. We may be harvesting some of these lettuce, endive and radicchio plants until April 15th of next year! This is also a good time to start mustard greens for overwintering outside.

This is a great way to prepare cucumbers.  Once we’ve started a batch, we find it nearly impossible to keep them in the fridge because everyone loves them so much.

QUICK PICKLES

2 unwaxed or peeled cucumbers

1 small onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tb fresh dill or 1 ½ tsp. dill seed

1 cup hot water

1 Tb salt

2 Tb honey

3 Tb cider vinegar

Slice each cucumber lengthwise into 8 sticks.  Slice onion into rings.  Alternate layers of cucumber and onion in a broad non-metal dish.  Scatter dill and garlic on top.  Mix water with honey and salt to dissolve; add vinegar and pour this brine over the cucumbers.  Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours before using.

NOTE:  When ready to replenish the pickle container, add 1 Tb vinegar and 1 rounded tsp of honey to the brine and add more sliced cucumber and onion as needed.  Prepare a fresh solution after 2 or 3 batches have been made.  From American Wholefoods Cuisine by Nikki and David Goldberg.

This recipe is very flexible.  If you have any greens left from previous weeks (like last week’s beet greens) they can be added to your Swiss chard from this week.

MORSHAN

(North African Chickpeas and Swiss Chard)

¾ lb. swiss chard leaves, stemmed, washed and torn

2 cloves garlic

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground coriander seeds

1 small red chile

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

½ c. minced onion

2 tsp. tomato paste

1 cup cooked chickpeas

¾ c. vegetable broth

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Steam or blanch Swiss chard until tender, about 5 minutes.  Set leaves in colander to drain, squeeze out excess moisture, and coarsely shred.  Crush garlic in a mortar with salt, coriander seed and red chile until a thick crumbly paste forms.  Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add onion; saute until pale golden, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic paste and tomato paste; stir them in oil until sizzling.  Add Swiss chard, chickpeas and broth; cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand until ready to serve.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold, with lemon wedges.  Serves 4.  Adapted from Mediterranean Cooking by Paula Wolfert.

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