CSA Newsletter: Week 14

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IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Cherry Tomatoes (Large Shares Only) // Most tomatoes should be kept out on the counter at room temperature, but cherry tomatoes need to be stored in the fridge or they over-ripen quickly.

Plum or Slicer Tomatoes // Store at room temperature for up to a week. Do not refrigerate. Use heirlooms much more quickly, immediately if you can.

Tomatillos // Store in the crisper drawer of your fridge. They should last at least a week.

Sweet Peppers (Large Shares and most Small Shares) // Refrigerate peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer. Moisture makes them spoil faster so don’t store in a plastic bag.

Jalapenos // Hot peppers keep well in the fridge, especially in the crisper drawer. I often keep hot peppers in a plastic bag so that they don’t spread their heat or flavor to other fridge items.

Carrots (Large Shares and Small Shares who did not receive sweet peppers) // Refrigerate carrots in a plastic bag. They will easily keep for 2-4 weeks this way. If your carrots had tops, remove them prior to storage and store the tops separately in a separate bag. They should last 2-3 days.

Acorn Winter Squash // Store winter squash in a cool, dry place and try to use within a week or two. Do not store in the fridge! This will cause it to spoil much more quickly.

Gold Potatoes // Early in the season you will receive new potatoes which have not been cured. They can be stored just like you’d store regular potatoes, however they will not last as long at room temperature. Try to use within a few days or move to the fridge if you think it will take a couple weeks to use them.

Leeks // Store in the fridge and try to use within a week. Store in a plastic bag for best storage.

Red Onion // Store along with your garlic and potatoes in a cool dark place and try to use within a couple weeks. In the proper conditions, pure darkness and cool temperatures, they can store up to 6 months.

Thyme (Large Shares) // Lay on a damp paper towel and wrap tightly. For long term storage and drying instructions, see here.

Chives (Small Shares) // Store in the fridge in a small glass with about an inch of water, stem side down (like flowers in a vase) for best storage.

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The winter squash has arrived!!! And it is absolutely perfect!

As so many of you who have been with us for years know, our winter squash fields have really let us down the past couple of seasons. Our early years of farming were marked with overwhelming production of this fall favorite and then suddenly the last couple of seasons were excessively wet and we lost the crop again and again to disease and rot. I’d like to say we’re learning what we are doing, but really winter squash production is soaring this year for a few reasons and only some of them have anything to do with us.

We’ve learned a lot through our couple years of crop failure. We learned we were planting the crop a bit too late and were not keeping it covered long enough. We planted the crop a full ten days earlier this year than we had in 2017 and 2018. We love the idea of letting squash ripen a bit later so that we don’t have to move straight from mass harvest of onions to mass harvest of squash, but have learned year after year that friends who got their squash in much earlier weren’t plagued by the massive disease and rot issues we had been experiencing. Getting this crop in almost two weeks earlier than we had before and letting the plants grow to full maturity in the summer heat seemed to be much better for its production overall.

We also continued to row cover this crop (aka cover it with that white sheer fabric) until the very last possible moment—until the plants literally grew too large and pushed their way out from under it. This is really helpful for both pest and disease resistance. Our first winter squash failure came from the squash vine borer. This is a pest that literally bores into the vines and kills the plant from the inside out. Their population spreads fast and because they are living and laying eggs inside of the plant, it’s almost impossible to stop them once a population begins. Keeping the crop covered helps keep this pest away until plants are fully mature and have already set many fruits.

Together, these two techniques have really helped our crop immensely, but we’ve also had a wonderful late summer season. The past six weeks have been much drier than the August and September of the past couple of seasons. Last season in particular was incredibly wet with 22 inches or rain falling on our farm in the month of August. Even though we had row covered our winter squash and got it into the ground in mid-June instead of late June last year, the amount of moisture just decimated the crop. That much rain brought both disease and rot to our beautiful stand of plants. They went from looking perfect to essentially looking dead in ONE week’s time.

Farming is like that. Experience matters, but so does the weather and the specific patterns of that particular season. You can think you’ve learned a lesson and implement all the right strategies for success and have a total crop failure for reasons you had never experienced before. You’re never done learning in this profession. And you’re never really in control.

Over the years, we have been lucky enough to have learned from a lot of truly talented growers and CSA farmers. The best of the best tell us to plan for 20% crop failure. 20%!!!! The best of the best tell us that each year 1/5 of what we grow may very well not turn out. Those odds are crazy.

And I’m learning that is exactly why most farmers you meet are incredibly humble and gracious. They operate under the assumption that the craft they spend their days and their weeks and their months and possibly even their lifetimes working to perfect, can never actually be perfect because it’s always at the mercy of something bigger. They have to do their best for all their customers and all of their crops, and 20% of the time that still won’t be enough. How many of us can say that? How many of us experience failure 20% of the time even when operating at 100%?  

It’s amazing to ride this roller coaster and to find ourselves at the top with crops we’ve really struggled with in years previous. It’s a crazy world we’ve gotten ourselves into. And for that, we are immensely grateful.

-L&K

P.S. We just wanted to let you know that we’ve got a date for the Fall Harvest Party!! It will be September 28th from 11-3 p.m. and we’re so excited to have a CSA-member led CHILI COOKOFF at this event!! We’ll also have fresh apple cider alongside more apples for pressing as well as a caramel apple building station again for the kiddos. It should be a perfect fall day at the farm. You can find our Chili Cookoff and party sign-up form here.

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VEGGIE ID: Leeks

Leeks are the super tall vegetables in your box this week that look almost like a giant green onion. These are one of my all time favorite veggies and I hope you learn to love them too!

They are in the allium (onion, garlic, shallots, etc) family so have that delicious allium flavor. They can be used any place where you would use an onion but I LOVE them in potato leek soup! To use them, you want to cut a tiny bit of the bottom off (the fringy part that was in the ground) as well as the leaves (use the parts that are white and pale green, skip the parts that are dark green- though they can be used for soup stock) and you can then cut them into rings or slice the leek in half and slice it much as you would an onion.

For more info on leeks and how to cut them, head over here!

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VEGGIE ID: TomatilloS

First and foremost, a tomatillo is not just an under-ripe tomato even though it does kind of look like that once you remove the husk. A tomatillo is a relative to the tomato and is sometimes known as a the Mexican husk tomato because of the way the fruit grows inside of a papery skin. It is a bit brighter, less sweet, and more acidic than a typical tomato.

To use them, you peel away the papery skin and give them a quick rinse under water since the skin of the actual fruit is always a bit sticky. Tomatillos are more commonly used in salsa verde (the green salsa often offered to you at Mexican restaurants). I love to use them this way or in a salad dressing with similar ingredients. Typically they are turned into a salsa or sauce of some kind.

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Understanding tomato blemishes

I mentioned is last week’s CSA email that the tomatoes are beginning to go down hill. It’s very common for tomatoes to begin going down in quality after 5 weeks. The fruits are still great to eat but there are a couple things to watch for.

On the left you will see some yellowing on the top of the fruit. This is called sun scald. It is very common for tomatoes to have sun scald on their tops after 5 weeks of production because at this point in the growing season, all of the tomato leaves have died off and there is nothing left to shade the ripening tomatoes. We remove the worst sun scald fruits when we clean tomatoes each week and give them to our restaurants as “seconds” or discounted damaged produce. However, since we are moving towards the end of the tomato season, we will begin to give you tomatoes with just a touch of yellowing. There is nothing wrong with these tomatoes. They will still taste delicious. We recommend just trimming the yellow portion off when you core the tomato since that portion rarely develops much delicious tomato flavor.

On the right you will see the effects of a tomato disease we get every year around this time. It is called anthracnose and it is a fungal disease that causes certain varieties of tomatoes to rot faster. Again, it is a common occurrence in organic tomatoes and is absolutely fine to eat. It is a disease that makes the tomato decay faster. It does not do anything to your body.

The photo above is just for reference. We will NEVER give you a tomato that looks like that. Any tomatoes with that much damage will be tossed into the compost. However, anthracnose is present in some of our tomatoes at this point of the season and can’t always be seen at harvest. A tomato may look perfect but due to anthracnose, decay very quickly on your counter. At this point in the season, we recommend using CSA tomatoes within 2-3 days. This means using them within 2-3 days if you plan to eat them raw OR cooking with them in 2-3 days. The disease will not spread or have any effect in a cooked product.

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IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

You can expect 9-10 of these items in your box next week

Cherry Tomatoes

Slicer and/or Heirloom Tomatoes

Colored Bell Peppers or Italian Fryers

Festival or Butternut Winter Squash

Carrots

Purple Daikon

Leeks

Fennel

Green Beans

Broccoli

Napa Cabbage or Bok Choy

Lettuce Mix

Mixed Herbs

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KATHY'S RECIPE CORNER

Early on, Lauren's mom instilled in her a great love of cooking. She's always had a garden and knows what to do with abundant produce better than anyone. We hope you enjoy her classic Wisconsin preparations of summer abundance. 

Quick Fresh Tomato Soup

 

1 cup chopped celery

1 leek, white and pale green parts, chopped

1 medium carrot, shredded

½ green pepper, chopped

¼ cup butter

4 ½ cups chicken broth, divided

4 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped (dip tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds to loosen skins)

½ teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

4 teaspoon sugar

¼ cup flour

  1. Saute’ celery, onions, carrot & green pepper in butter in stockpot. Add 4 cups of the broth, tomatoes, spices and sugar; heat to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer for 20 minutes. Blend flour with remaining ½ cup chicken broth. Stir gradually into soup, cook until slightly thickened, stirring frequently.

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box inspiration:

Every week I'll share the links to some of my favorite recipes for the produce in your box from my own blog as well as my favorite bloggers and chefs. I am a master recipe substituter so be sure to read my notes before clicking through to see what vegetables I am swapping for others and how I adapt favorite recipes time and time again with whatever is in season! Though some of the recipes I share may look complicated, I also love sharing tips for streamlining or suggesting other preparation suggestions in the notes of the recipes.

photo by: Alexandra Cooks

photo by: Alexandra Cooks

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion, Simplified // Uses Tomatoes, Red Onion, feel free to add Leeks and/or 1 of any of the Peppers you received this week // If you are feeling sick of tomatoes, it’s time to freeze some! I love this super simple sauce and after pureeing, it freezes great in bags or wide mouth mason jars.

Vegetarian, Vegan if you substitute olive oil for butter, Gluten-Free

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Acorn Squash Quesadilla with Tomatillo Salsa // Uses Tomatillos, Acorn Squash, Jalapenos, Onion (use red or yellow), skip poblanos and use whatever Sweet Peppers you received this week // I’ve been just waiting for the day we pulled off growing tomatillos and winter squash together so I could share this perfect summer meets fall recipe.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free (with the right tortillas)

photo by; Bon Appetit

photo by; Bon Appetit

Leek Soup with Shoestring Potatoes // Uses Leeks, Onion (use red or yellow), Potato, skip the Garlic and Parsley // A CSA member reminded me of this favorite recipe over the weekend and I’m so overjoyed that they did. I made it for a farm to table event a few summers ago without the fried herbs (my fried herbs just turned into a greasy mess) and added a simple jalapeno oil. The soup has a lot of butter and a lot of cream, but don’t let that stop you. It’s the best leek soup you will ever eat.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

photo by: Bon Appetit

photo by: Bon Appetit

Shaved Carrots with Charred Dates // Uses Carrots // A salad can be made from any base of raw vegetable and carrots are no exception. You may not usually eat them this way but you should give it a try!

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Bon Appetit

photo by: Bon Appetit

Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Fried Onions & Parsley // Uses Potatoes, Onions (use red or yellow), skip the Parsley and perhaps finish with Chives instead // I think perhaps we should all start having boiled potatoes in our fridge all the time because then you can make mashed potatoes, potato salad or my new favorite SMASHED POTATOES (!!!) in 5-10 minutes flat. I made these on the grill Sunday and they were like crispy dinner hash browns in all the best ways. One word of warning: boil the potatoes whole regardless of the size and then quarter or halve the largest ones before "smashing" for best results.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Things I Made Today

photo by: Things I Made Today

Winter Squash & Tomato Gratin // Uses Tomatoes and/or Cherry Tomatoes, Acorn Squash, Red Onion, feel free to add Leek, Jalapeno or Sweet Pepper, skip the parsley and maybe add some Chives instead // I wait all year for the winter squash to overlap with the tomatoes so I can share this beautiful recipe with you! It’s so simple and so tasty. You can use any winter squash and any tomatoes (though the winter squash we gave this week really should be peeled before use).

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

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Leek & Pepper Pretzel Dip // Uses Leek, Colored Pepper, Jalapeno, maybe add some Chives if you like // Many thanks to CSA member and worker share Amy who reminded me putting random vegetables into cream cheese is ALWAYS a great idea. Leeks, jalapenos and a sweet pepper (if you still have one lying around) are a match made in heaven.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

photo by: Making Thyme for Health

photo by: Making Thyme for Health

One-Pot African Peanut Stew // Uses Onion (red or yellow), Jalapenos, sub a Tomato or Two for the tomato paste and maybe a handful more for some of the vegetable broth, sub Leeks for garlic, sub Festival or Butternut Squash for sweet potato, skip the greens unless you happen to still have some kale in your fridge, add a Sweet Pepper or two, and some Carrots if you feel like it // Every time of year, I  get this exact same craving and share this exact same recipe. It's the perfect dish to celebrate the time of year when tomatoes and peppers smash into winter squash. It may look like a lot of substitutions but I promise it's really not. This time of year is made for African peanut stew and the flavors of this box are just begging you to make it. Even if you want to leave out a suggested veggie ingredient or two, it will still be perfect. I promise.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Clean Living Guide

photo by: Clean Living Guide

Roasted Tomatillo Verde Chicken Enchiladas // Uses Tomatillos, Jalapenos, Onion (red or yellow), sub in Leek for some of the onion if you don’t have enough, sub in other Peppers for the poblanos, add in roasted or sauteed Acorn Squash if you like // Roasted chicken + roasted tomatillo verde salsa + a whole bunch of cheese a corn tortillas, it’s weeknight dinner perfection.

Gluten-Free

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Baked Squash Mac & Cheese // Uses Acorn Squash, Onion (red or yellow or could swap in a Leek), add in whatever Peppers you feel like and maybe a handful of Chives // Even though you only got 1-2 squash this week, I still love this recipe for this box and think you should make it anyway. You can absolutely half your squash to have more to stuff, but who really cares if you wind up with some extra mac & cheese left over. Enjoy!

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Crockpot Caramelized Pork Ramen Noodle Soup with Curry Roasted Acorn Squash // Uses Acorn Squash, Carrots Jalapeno, sub Leeks or Red Onion for green onions // This clearly qualifies as a PROJECT recipe. I prefer not to share project recipes for all you lovely CSA members because I know your preference is usually to cook maximum vegetables in minimum time with limited crazy techniques and/or ingredients, but this recipe, this recipe is oh so worth it. And it uses a crock pot, so that equates ease, right?

Gluten-Free

CSA Newsletter: Week 13

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IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Watermelon or Cantaloupe // Store in the fridge. Once cut open, store leftover melon in the fridge wrapped with plastic wrap. The flesh will dry out if left exposed. Use them quickly.

Cherry Tomatoes // Most tomatoes should be kept out on the counter at room temperature, but cherry tomatoes need to be stored in the fridge or they over-ripen quickly.

Slicer Tomatoes // Store at room temperature for up to a week. Do not refrigerate. Use heirlooms much more quickly, immediately if you can.

Tomatillos // Store in the crisper drawer of your fridge. They should last at least a week.

Sweet Peppers // Refrigerate peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer. Moisture makes them spoil faster so don’t store in a plastic bag.

Shishitos or Cherry Bombs // Hot peppers keep well in the fridge, especially in the crisper drawer. I often keep hot peppers in a plastic bag so that they don’t spread their heat or flavor to other fridge items.

Curly or Lacinato Kale // Lasts at least a week if kept moist. Kale doesn’t taste as good once it’s dried out. Keep it in the crisper drawer of your fridge or loosely in a plastic bag to seal in the moisture.

Festival Winter Squash // Store winter squash in a cool, dry place and try to use within a week or two. Do not store in the fridge! This will cause it to spoil much more quickly.

Purple or Red Potatoes // Early in the season you will receive new potatoes which have not been cured. They can be stored just like you’d store regular potatoes, however they will not last as long at room temperature. Try to use within a few days or move to the fridge if you think it will take a couple weeks to use them.

Yellow Onions // Store along with your garlic and potatoes in a cool dark place and try to use within a couple weeks. In the proper conditions, pure darkness and cool temperatures, they can store up to 6 months.

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The fields are beginning to change right before our eyes. Beautiful stands of fall root vegetables that have been hidden under cover are emerging in perfect rows. Baby bok choys begin to stand tall. Elegant rows of lettuces hug the ground. Tomatillos grow heavy with the weight of hundreds of fruits just about ready for harvest. The fall beans begin to flower. The leeks, elegant as ever, become the center of attention as we walk by. We look out on the winter squash, plants now wilting and dying, and see hundreds of fruits on the ground. It’s the most vibrant this crop has ever looked for us, and we’re crossing our fingers for our first good winter squash year in five years.  

Meanwhile, some of the staples we’ve been growing since late June are really beginning to wind down. The summer squash ended a couple weeks ago, the zucchini is winding down quickly. Cucumbers are still hanging on, but both their quality and quantity are beginning to decrease. We’ll likely be done harvesting them in a week or two. The eggplant, a stand out of this season so far in its production, has finally slowed. Instead of hauling in 300 pounds of eggplant each week, our three little beds will likely only yield 30-40 pounds which we’ll reserve first for restaurants and only bring you if it has no other home. The tomatoes are slowing, but they’re certainly not finished quite yet. The shallots and onions are out. The potatoes are up next.

The sweet corn was mowed early last week, and that sealed the deal for me that summer is nearing its end and fall is on its way in. We’re officially clearing the way for fall cover crops. We’re officially putting so many of our fields to bed for winter. The biggest focus of our weeks right now, outside of keeping up on the harvests, is seeding fall cover crops. A cover crop is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a crop that is intended to cover a bed or a field once there is no longer any harvestable crop there.

Once a bed or field is fully out of production (either because it stops producing altogether or because it is no longer has a high enough volume and/or quality to be worth our time), Kyle will mow down whatever remnants remained in that particular bed or field. For the onions, we removed everything so he was really only mowing down weeds. In a field like sweet corn, there are huge stalks to be mowed down. He generally does this work with our small walk behind tractor because it has a flail mower attachment. A flail mower doesn’t just mow down whatever was in the field, it essentially shreds or finely chops the plant matter so that it can break down faster in the fields.

In the earlier parts of the season, he would mow and we would often replant a crop in a space once it was done producing. This is something called double cropping and it is a very common practice on vegetable farms because of limited bed space and because it can be easier to maintain weeds in the same bed over a full year than in two separate spaces. The fall carrots now grow in our spring lettuce fields. The fall beans grow where our spring turnips and radishes were harvested from. Now that we have reached September, there isn’t much we can plant that will grow to full size this year so the focus is on turning beds over to cover crops.

After Kyle mows the crop down, he tills it in with our full-sized tractor, incorporating the plant matter and prepping the area for seeding. He plants cover crop with a broadcast seeder, a device much like what people use to seed their lawn. It throws seeds over a large area rather quickly and sits on the soil surface. He tries to time cover crop seeding before a heavy rain for this reason. A heavy rain will push the seed into the soil finishing our planting process more efficiently.

Right now, we’re seeding the same blend of cover crops in all our fields. It’s a mix of buckwheat, hardy alfalfa, red clover, alsike clover, and yellow blossom clover. The buckwheat grows fast, shading out weeds very effectively (something essential at our farm) to nurse the other gentler crops into being. Buckwheat is a very quick growing crop so we will mow it down before winter making way for the alfalfa and clover to really establish itself. The alfalfa and clovers are all legumes which means their main benefit is fixing nitrogen back into our soils that have been depleted of some nutrients with our intensive vegetable production.  It will grow into the winter and even survive until spring if temperatures are mild enough. Either way, this great mix with do a great job of getting our fields ready for next year!

It’s a fun part of farming that we get to begin planning for next year in late summer. While we’re still dealing with some of our mistakes from the year prior, we can also begin to take action on them immediately. Vegetable farming is so cyclical and it’s so much more than just planting and harvesting. It’s a system that requires constant maintenance and thought. The more intention and time we put in this fall, the easier and better crops will grow next season. This is Kyle’s first year working fully on farm. He won’t be going to a seasonal job later this fall or his greenhouse gig in late January. He’ll be spending the next eight months preparing our farm for a better 2020 growing season. It’s such an exciting time for us, being able to spend more and more of our energy on our little seven acres and really begin to hone our craft.

As always, I hope you too are enjoying the ride.

-L&K

P.S. We just wanted to let you know that we’ve got a date for the Fall Harvest Party!! It will be September 28th from 11-3 p.m. and we’re so excited to have a CSA-member led CHILI COOKOFF at this event!! We’ll also have fresh apple cider alongside more apples for pressing as well as a caramel apple building station again for the kiddos. It should be a perfect fall day at the farm. You can find our Chili Cookoff and party sign-up form here.

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VEGGIE ID: Shishito & Cherry Bombs

The peppers on the left are shishito peppers. These peppers are a Japanese variety that became real trendy a few years back, but over time have proved they have staying power. The peppers are thin-skinned, crunchy and sweet, but the best thing about them is that they don't take much work. You don't need to seed them or even cut them at all.

I think these peppers are made for a vegetable skewer with some beef and onions,  but most folks swear by just tossing them in a pan until blistered. Here is a great link that teaches you how to blister them and also shares a few great recipes. If you aren't feeling too creative or like learning a new veggie, don't distress, you can also chop them up and throw them in anything that calls for green peppers or mild chile peppers.

We don't grow a ton of these peppers (because if we did you'd wind up getting them every single week) so instead these beauties will be rotated through your CSA boxes until everyone gets some!

The peppers on the right are cherry bomb peppers. These are our favorite pepper that we grow and we’ve been scaling them up the past couple of years. We still don’t grow a ton because we know our members don’t love getting bags of hot peppers every week, but we’ll keep slipping some into CSA boxes throughout the season whenever we have extra.

Cherry bombs have a sweet mild heat. I think they are too hot to be eaten raw, but much better if added to a dish and cooked a bit. Add them to any dish that asks for a jalapeno or red pepper flakes. Start with half if you’re worried about the heat. You won’t be disappointed.

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VEGGIE ID: Festival winter squash

Pretty and tasty, Festival acorn squash are creamy colored with decorative green and orange stripes. This is our replacement for the delicata squash we loved so much but that performed poorly at our farm year after year. I also love these squash because they look so much like a decorative gourd. I keep them on my counter in a bowl until I’m ready to eat them and it brings a little touch of fall into our lives.

They are great squash because they are so little and “personal” sized. You can just cut one in half, remove the seeds, roast it up with olive oil or butter, and drizzle it with maple syrup for a quick snack. You can also stuff the halves with a more hearty filling for a full meal. Or you can slice it and roast it that way for a quick side. It’s also great tossed into stews, soups or chilis. Use this squash in any of these way or substitute for any recipe that calls for acorn or butternut squash.

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VEGGIE ID: TomatilloS

First and foremost, a tomatillo is not just an under-ripe tomato even though it does kind of look like that once you remove the husk. A tomatillo is a relative to the tomato and is sometimes known as a the Mexican husk tomato because of the way the fruit grows inside of a papery skin. It is a bit brighter, less sweet, and more acidic than a typical tomato.

To use them, you peel away the papery skin and give them a quick rinse under water since the skin of the actual fruit is always a bit sticky. Tomatillos are more commonly used in salsa verde (the green salsa often offered to you at Mexican restaurants). I love to use them this way or in a salad dressing with similar ingredients. Typically they are turned into a salsa or sauce of some kind.

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Understanding tomato blemishes

I mentioned is last week’s CSA email that the tomatoes are beginning to go down hill. It’s very common for tomatoes to begin going down in quality after 5 weeks. The fruits are still great to eat but there are a couple things to watch for.

On the left you will see some yellowing on the top of the fruit. This is called sun scald. It is very common for tomatoes to have sun scald on their tops after 5 weeks of production because at this point in the growing season, all of the tomato leaves have died off and there is nothing left to shade the ripening tomatoes. We remove the worst sun scald fruits when we clean tomatoes each week and give them to our restaurants as “seconds” or discounted damaged produce. However, since we are moving towards the end of the tomato season, we will begin to give you tomatoes with just a touch of yellowing. There is nothing wrong with these tomatoes. They will still taste delicious. We recommend just trimming the yellow portion off when you core the tomato since that portion rarely develops much delicious tomato flavor.

On the right you will see the effects of a tomato disease we get every year around this time. It is called anthracnose and it is a fungal disease that causes certain varieties of tomatoes to rot faster. Again, it is a common occurrence in organic tomatoes and is absolutely fine to eat. It is a disease that makes the tomato decay faster. It does not do anything to your body.

The photo above is just for reference. We will NEVER give you a tomato that looks like that. Any tomatoes with that much damage will be tossed into the compost. However, anthracnose is present in some of our tomatoes at this point of the season and can’t always be seen at harvest. A tomato may look perfect but due to anthracnose, decay very quickly on your counter. At this point in the season, we recommend using CSA tomatoes within 2-3 days. This means using them within 2-3 days if you plan to eat them raw OR cooking with them in 2-3 days. The disease will not spread or have any effect in a cooked product.

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IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

You can expect 10-11 of these items in your box next week

Cherry Tomatoes

Slicer and/or Heirloom Tomatoes

Tomatillos

Colored Bell Peppers or Italian Fryers

Hot Pepper

Festival or Acorn Winter Squash

Carrots

Potatoes

Leeks

Red Onion

Fennel

Rainbow Chard

Mixed Herbs

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KATHY'S RECIPE CORNER

Early on, Lauren's mom instilled in her a great love of cooking. She's always had a garden and knows what to do with abundant produce better than anyone. We hope you enjoy her classic Wisconsin preparations of summer abundance. 

Roasted Potato Salad with Kale

2# unpeeled potatoes, cut into large chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
Seasonings, as desired
3 stalks kale, stem removed and roughly chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3-4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked, drained and chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees. Toss potatoes with olive oil and 1-2 tablespoons seasoning of your choice (my mom uses a mix of season salt, garlic salt and pepper). Roast potatoes for 35 minutes in a preheated oven until edges begin to brown and potatoes are tender.

2. Add kale to pan, toss to coat with oil and seasonings, and roast 10 minutes longer. In a small bowl, combine mayo, yogurt, mustard and parsley. Add bacon and onion.

3. Allow potatoes and kale to cool slightly. Toss with dressing, stir to coat. Adjust seasonings as needed/desired.

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box inspiration:

Every week I'll share the links to some of my favorite recipes for the produce in your box from my own blog as well as my favorite bloggers and chefs. I am a master recipe substituter so be sure to read my notes before clicking through to see what vegetables I am swapping for others and how I adapt favorite recipes time and time again with whatever is in season! Though some of the recipes I share may look complicated, I also love sharing tips for streamlining or suggesting other preparation suggestions in the notes of the recipes.

photo by: Alexandra Cooks

photo by: Alexandra Cooks

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion, Simplified // Uses Tomatoes, Onion, feel free to add Garlic or 1 of any of the Peppers you received this week // If you are feeling sick of tomatoes, it’s time to freeze some! I love this super simple sauce and after pureeing, it freezes great in bags or wide mouth mason jars.

Vegetarian, Vegan if you substitute olive oil for butter, Gluten-Free

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Acorn Squash Quesadilla with Tomatillo Salsa // Uses Onion, Tomatillos, sub Festival Squash for Acorn Squash, skip poblanos and jalapenos and use whatever Peppers you received this week // I’ve been just waiting for the day we pulled off growing tomatillos and winter squash together so I could share this perfect summer meets fall recipe.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free (with the right tortillas)

photo by; Bon Appetit

photo by; Bon Appetit

Summer Gazpacho // Use Sweet Pepper, Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Sub Onion for the Shallots (unless you still have the Shallot lying around), add Cantaloupe or Watermelon // Gazpacho used to seem weird to me. Cold pureed vegetable soup? Sure, it used half of the CSA veggies in one recipe but still a bit odd. THEN I began adding cantaloupe and watermelon to my gazpacho and it change everything. Make this recipe exactly as written but then add 3-4 cups of cubed, seeded cantaloupe. It will change everything.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Bon Appetit

photo by: Bon Appetit

Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Fried Onions & Parsley // Uses Potatoes, Onions, skip the Parsley // I think perhaps we should all start having boiled potatoes in our fridge all the time because then you can make mashed potatoes, potato salad or my new favorite SMASHED POTATOES (!!!) in 5-10 minutes flat. I made these on the grill Sunday and they were like crispy dinner hash browns in all the best ways. One word of warning: boil the potatoes whole regardless of the size and then quarter or halve the largest ones before "smashing" for best results.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

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Kale Peanut Salad // Uses Kale, skip the cucumbers, radishes and scallions, sub in Sweet Peppers, Carrots from last week, and thinly sliced Onion instead // My very favorite kale salad. You could just eat the kale with peanuts and peanut dressing all year long. Honest. But it’s even better when topped with whatever random veggies you have in your fridge and want to use up.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free

photo by: Alexandra Cooks

photo by: Alexandra Cooks

Huevos Rancheros with Blistered Salsa Roja // Uses Cherry Tomato (or diced Tomatoes), Onion, sub whatever Hot Pepper you received for the jalapeno, add sauteed kale to the tortilla broiling step, add thinly sliced Onions to the top // It’s the sixth week of tomatoes in your CSA boxes. It is time to make SALSA!!! And then eat them with tortillas and eggs for breakfast.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free (with the right tortilla)

photo by: Food Network

photo by: Food Network

Blistered Shishito Peppers with Browned Butter, Lemon & Parmesan // Shishito Peppers // I love shishitos pretty much any which way, but this was the first recipe I ever made with shishito peppers and it introduced me to their complexity and delicate flavor. They have been a favorite ever since. Thanks Food Network for encouraging me to toss my vegetables in butter and cheese.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Spicy Southwestern Quinoa Bowl // Uses Kale, Tomatillos, sub Festival Squash for sweet potatoes, sub Hot Peppers, add Cherry Tomatoes or Diced Tomatoes // I love a good grain bowl. This one is perfect for early September.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Baked Squash Mac & Cheese // Uses Festival Squash, Yellow Onions, add in some sauteed Kale and whatever Peppers you feel like // Even though you only got 1-2 squash this week, I still love this recipe for this box and think you should make it anyway. You can absolutely half your squash to have more to stuff, but who really cares if you wind up with some extra mac & cheese left over. Enjoy!

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Caramelized Onion & Balsamic Tomato Tarts // Uses Onion, Cherry Tomatoes // Yes, I admit this recipe is totally and completely over the top, but it is also so gosh dang delicious if you happen to have a spare moment this weekend and wanted a foodie project to fill your time, here it is!

Vegetarian

CSA Newsletter: Week 12

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IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Watermleon or Cantaloupe // Store in the fridge. Once cut open, store leftover melon in the fridge wrapped with plastic wrap. The flesh will dry out if left exposed. Use them quickly.

Cherry Tomatoes // Most tomatoes should be kept out on the counter at room temperature, but cherry tomatoes need to be stored in the fridge or they over-ripen quickly.

Slicer and Heirloom Tomatoes // Store at room temperature for up to a week. Do not refrigerate. Use heirlooms much more quickly, immediately if you can.

Eggplant (Large Shares and most Small Shares) // Eggplant is very perishable. Use quickly or at least within the week. Many people recommend not storing in the fridge because it will get soggy quickly, but we generally do and just use it within a couple days. You can cube it and freeze it for soups or curries if you know you won’t get to it right away.

Zucchini (some Small Shares who did not receive Eggplant) // Zucchini spoil most quickly in very warm or very cool temperatures. They can be stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge, but try to use within a week as they will get soggy quickly in there.

Cucumbers (Small Shares who did not receive Eggplant or Zucchini) // Store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Try to use within one week.

Sweet Peppers // Refrigerate peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer. Moisture makes them spoil faster so don’t store in a plastic bag.

Poblanos or Jalapenos // Hot peppers keep well in the fridge, especially in the crisper drawer. I often keep hot peppers in a plastic bag so that they don’t spread their heat or flavor to other fridge items.

Carrots // Refrigerate carrots in a plastic bag. They will easily keep for 2-4 weeks this way. If your carrots had tops, remove them prior to storage and store the tops separately in a separate bag. They should last 2-3 days.

Daikon Radish // Store loose in the crisper drawer of your fridge. They will easily store for a month, after that they will begin to get a bit softer but will remain usable for 2-3 months.

Celery // Celery releases a gas known as ethylene. It is therefore should not be stored in plastic — This will trap the gas and cause quick spoilage. For best storage, wrap in aluminum foil and store in the fridge.

Yellow Onions // Store along with your garlic and potatoes in a cool dark place and try to use within a couple weeks. In the proper conditions, pure darkness and cool temperatures, they can store up to 6 months.

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We did it! We have now officially got all six beds of onions in from the field, tucked safe and sound into the greenhouse alongside the two beds’ worth of shallots. When we were a much smaller operation, we used to get this all done in early August but as we have continued to scale our onion production, this task became a much larger project spanning several weeks instead of just all coming out in one giant harvest.

Now our greenhouse can only hold about a quarter of our onion field at a time so the process looks a little different. We have to pull no more than two beds at a time, lay them out in the greenhouse to let the green dries (with several fans running through the space to maximize airflow), wait a week or so, and then begin to top. Onions are one of our absolute favorite crops to grow even though they take a little bit of maintenance post-harvest.

We move the onions through the greenhouse in a kind of west to east flow, allowing them to dry more and more each step of the way. That first step I mentioned above is the most important. Laying them out in a single layer with the green tops still intact is essential so the necks of the onions can pull excess moisture from the onion as each individual bulb dries. A week or so later (we give them longer when we can), we then spend an hour snipping those green tops off the onions and placing the onions in bulb crates. These crates are filled with holes so air still moves nicely through them. The onions are packed about half full so that they can continue to dry. After about another week or two, after the onions are fully cured, we move them into red mesh bags and pack them into my parents’ basement on farm. It’s a great space because the temperatures are cool and the humidity is generally low. As we scale up this production, we’re considering moving onions into a cooler for long term storage.

When we harvest the onions, we try to get any large clumps of dirt off, but the onions are still pretty dirty through this whole curing stage. They have some dirt from the field and lots of dried layers of skin left on them. We store them this way in those big bags for efficiency of moving things through the greenhouse, and then clean them to order. You’re receiving the first of the freshly cured yellow onions this week and will get more next week before we take a brief onion break for the fall leeks!!!!!!

I love to walk members through this process every year because it is the best and easiest way to show you just how much work and expertise goes into every single item we share with our members. The growing is just half the battle. Starting the seed, transplanting the crop, and keeping them weeded in the field is only half of what we do.

At this time of year, when most everything has been planted, harvest and post-harvest handling are taking 90-95% of our time each week. We not only work to harvest things at their peak ripeness and condition, we also need to figure out the best and most efficient ways to transport, wash, and store them for you. We keep crates washed and organized so when it comes time to harvest, we have the right tool for the job. We sharpen knives and fill wash tubs. We squeegee the floor a couple times a day to keep the mud moving out of the pack shed and into our drainage field. We package things into bags or pint containers so pick up can go easier for everyone. We load freshly processed veggies onto mini pallets and wheel them into our cooler.

By the time a crop makes it to you, we have probably nurtured it in someway (seeding, planting, weeding, harvesting, washing, bagging) at least 6 times. With something like onions, it’s probably more like 10 times. Imagine that! Someone at our farm has worked with each onion you receive TEN times.

Seven years in, it’s still truly amazing to me—this whole process, this deep nurturing of our land and our local community through our direct work. It’s a process you can understand with practices that are simple and that we feel are deeply respectful to our land. You can see the exact ways the dollars you invest in a local farm supports our work and the work of our crew. It’s so beautiful. And I think it begins to show you the imbalance that can sometimes exist at the store when you see a particular vegetable available for $1 a pound (or less!). Together, we can all begin to understand why the food we eat should be valued more highly—why it makes such a difference to pay $3 for a pound of tomatoes instead of 75 cents.

We’ve been together twelve weeks now and I know so many of you already understand all this—how local matters, how practices matter, how employment standards matter—but I just wanted to take one more opportunity to extend our most heartfelt thanks to you all for being a part of this movement we’re all building together from the ground up. And to thank you for being conscientious and intentional with just a small fraction of our purchasing decisions. It’s the theme of this month’s Climate Change Challenge and it is something that just speaks so wholly to our hearts. Thanks to you all for showing up and for being a part of this solution. We’re honored to grow (and harvest and process and clean) these onions for you!

-L&K

P.S. We just wanted to let you know that we’ve got a date for the Fall Harvest Party!! It will be September 28th from 11-3 p.m. and we’re so excited to have a CSA-member led CHILI COOKOFF at this event!! We’ll also have fresh apple cider alongside more apples for pressing as well as a caramel apple building station again for the kiddos. It should be a perfect fall day at the farm. You can find our Chili Cookoff and party sign-up form here.

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VEGGIE ID: Daikon Radish

Daikon is not all that different from a regular radish (crisp and sweet with a little bit of spice). The main difference is just that it's MUCH larger. Daikon can get anywhere from 3-15 inches long. You can enjoy them raw, sliced, shaved, or cut into matchsticks. They add a great crunch to pretty much any dish with just a very subtle spice. I especially love to pickle them and toss them on sandwiches or grain bowls.

Have fun experimenting and if you want to learn more about this unique veggie: head over to Food 52 where they give you loads of  information and ideas for how to use it.

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IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

You can expect 10-11 of these items in your box next week

Watermelon

Cherry Tomatoes

Slicer and/or Heirloom Tomatoes

Tomatillos

Colored Bell Peppers or Italian Fryers

Hot Pepper

Festival Winter Squash

Carrots

Onion

Curly Kale

Mixed Herbs

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KATHY'S RECIPE CORNER

Early on, Lauren's mom instilled in her a great love of cooking. She's always had a garden and knows what to do with abundant produce better than anyone. We hope you enjoy her classic Wisconsin preparations of summer abundance. 

Easy Jambalaya

2 tablespoons butter

1 large onion , diced

1 large green bell or sweet pepper, diced

2 or 3 celery stalks, diced

4 garlic cloves, diced fine

½ pound cubed chicken breast or large peeled deveined shrimp (optional)

1 rope smoked sausage, cut in half lengthwise then sliced into ½” pieces

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups uncooked long grain rice

1 ½ cup peeled, diced fresh tomatoes (put fresh tomatoes in boiling water for 30 -45 sec., slip skins off)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ jalapeno or more to taste, finely diced

1 teaspoon salt

  1. In a large skillet, saute’ onions, peppers, celery and garlic in butter until crisp tender.

  2. Stir in chicken if using, saute’ until pink is gone. Stir in rest of ingredients, bring to boil, cover with tight fitting cover, reduce heat almost as low as it goes, simmer for 25 – 30 minutes. Almost all liquid should be absorbed and rice should be tender.

  3. If adding uncooked shrimp, add about 5 minutes before end of cooking time. Shrimp will turn pink when cooked.

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box inspiration:

Every week I'll share the links to some of my favorite recipes for the produce in your box from my own blog as well as my favorite bloggers and chefs. I am a master recipe substituter so be sure to read my notes before clicking through to see what vegetables I am swapping for others and how I adapt favorite recipes time and time again with whatever is in season! Though some of the recipes I share may look complicated, I also love sharing tips for streamlining or suggesting other preparation suggestions in the notes of the recipes.

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons // Tomatoes // SCALLOPED TOMATOES WITH CROUTONS?! This is essentially one of my favorite winter Midwest recipes (scalloped potatoes) lightened up and made fresh with tomatoes instead of potatoes, basil instead of the usual pounds of cheese and a beautiful array of freshly=made breadcrumbs. This dish is tasty. Make it now and serve it up with poached eggs. 

Vegetarian

photo by: Six Seasons (Joshua McFadden)

photo by: Six Seasons (Joshua McFadden)

Grilled Carrots, Steak, and Onion with Fish Sauce Sauce // Carrots, Sub Yellow Onion for red onion, Poblano or Jalapeno (for chili used in sauce), whatever herbs you’ve got on hand // I've wanted to share so many recipes from this fabulous cookbook with you but can't always find the recipes online. I'm so glad that this one is because it's unbelievably simple, inspiring, surprising and delicious. Give it a go and if you love it, think about purchasing this awesome cookbook packed full of vegetable recipes!

Gluten-Free

photo by; Bon Appetit

photo by; Bon Appetit

Pork Chops with Celery & Almond Salad // Celery, sub Celery leaves for parsley, Shallot // In case you can't tell just by looking at it, fresh celery is NOTHING like store bought celery. The stems are thinner, the leaves are bigger, the green is more vibrant. Fresh, local celery doesn't need to be buried in soups or stocks (though I do use it for soup in the next recipe). It is worthy of starring as the main event on your dinner table. This simple salad from Bon Appetit is lovely and tender and delicate. It feels a little like fall thanks to the dried cranberries, but with the great cool weather we're having today, I'm feeling like fall anyways.

Vegetarian (if just making the salad), Gluten-Free

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Sesame Noodle Bowls with Lemongrass Meatballs // Carrots, Daikon, sub Onoin for scallions in meatballs, feel free to add some Green Pepper or Jalapeno to the meatballs as well, you can skip pretty much any of the herbs you don’t have on hand (cilantro, lemongrass, garlic) // This bowl of goodness is so dang delicious. I always scale up and make a double batch of the meatballs so that I have them at a moment’s notice (they store great in the freezer or fridge). Just be careful doubling the pickles as they get a little funky after 2-3 days. I usually dice all my pickle veg and do a quick pickle twice if I know I won’t finish it all in two days. Also, feel free to make the cashew sauce if you are so inclined. It’s a little too much effort for us so we usually just top with some sriracha.

Gluten-Free

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Pork Sausage Pasta with Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Sauce // Uses Eggplant, Cherry Tomatoes, could absolutely throw in some Sweet or Hot peppers as well as some Onion if you like // By now, cherry tomatoes may be beginning to lose their excitement as being devoured in fresh salads. Lucky for you, they turn into a sauce so effortless that you will just have to give this recipe a try if you got eggplant this week!

photo by: How Sweet Eats

photo by: How Sweet Eats

Nicoise Bagels // Uses Tomatoes, use Yellow Onions for pickling instead of red, add some sliced Cucumber if you’ve got it, skip the green beans and herbs if you don’t have any on hand // I’m a sucker for a pretty make-your-own spread like this of pretty much any variety but this one I really really love because of my absolute obsession with bagels and smoked salmon for breakfast. Make this for a lazy Labor Day brunch and spoil everyone you’re with. I never follow a recipe in this situation, I just use the photos and recipes for guidance so don’t worry if you only want to include half of these things in your final bagel brunch spread.

photo by: Alexandra Cooks

photo by: Alexandra Cooks

Huevos Rancheros with Blistered Salsa Roja // Uses Cherry Tomato, Onion, Jalapeno for salsa (feel free to add Poblano and/or substitute regular tomatoes as necessary), add thinly sliced Onions to the top // It’s the fifth week of tomatoes in your CSA boxes. It is time to make SALSA!!! And then eat them with tortillas and eggs for breakfast.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free (with the right tortilla)

photo by: Bon Appetit

photo by: Bon Appetit

Celery, Apple & Peanut Salad // Celery, sub Yellow Onion for scallions, sub Jalapeno for fresno chili, sub Celery leaves for parsley // In case you didn't get the hint above, here's another one: I really want you to make salad with your fresh celery. This one pairs salty peanuts, spicy peppers, sweet apples and a bunch of lemon juice for a light, bright perfect for late summer salad.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Jamie Oliver

photo by: Jamie Oliver

Tomato Soup with Carrots & Celery // Tomatoes, Carrots, Celery, Onion // I know this lovely cool spell likely won't last long so I'm relishing in it eating all the delicious hearty, tomato-y soups I can. And I'm thinking to the future with them too! I actually just made a bunch of this tomato soup and froze the majority of it in freezer-safe mason jars. I can't wait to pull a jar of soup out of the freezer on a busy fall or winter day when I don't know what to bring for lunch and be met with amazing summer flavors!

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Carrot Cake with Cider & Olive Oil // Carrots // Since we are finally receiving the first of the cider in our apple shares this week AND the first of the carrots (and I'm patiently willing fall into being), I thought this cake might be a lovely treat for your household. I'm all for summer abundance and non-stop simple tomato dishes, but I love to balance them with something fun and silly like a giant loaf of carrot cake!

Vegetarian

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Bahn Mi Burgers // Uses Daikon, Cucumber, Jalapeno, add Carrots to pickle if you like, skip the basil if you don’t have any // I love a good burger and I have even more fun with it when it’s a burger topped with loads of fresh veggies. This burger is inspired by the Vietnamese sandwich called the Bahn Mi and it is just so darn good!

CSA Newsletter: Week 11

IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Cantaloupe // Store in the fridge. Once cut open, store leftover melon in the fridge wrapped with plastic wrap. The flesh will dry out if left exposed. Use them quickly.

Cherry Tomatoes // Most tomatoes should be kept out on the counter at room temperature, but cherry tomatoes need to be stored in the fridge or they over-ripen quickly.

Slicer and Heirloom Tomatoes // Store at room temperature for up to a week. Do not refrigerate. Use heirlooms much more quickly, immediately if you can.

Eggplant // Eggplant is very perishable. Use quickly or at least within the week. Many people recommend not storing in the fridge because it will get soggy quickly, but we generally do and just use it within a couple days. You can cube it and freeze it for soups or curries if you know you won’t get to it right away.

Zucchini or Summer Squash // Zucchini and summer squash spoil most quickly in very warm or very cool temperatures. They can be stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge, but try to use within a week as they will get soggy quickly in there.

Cucumbers (Large Shares Only) // Store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Try to use within one week.

Banana Peppers, Cherry Bombs, or Jalapenos // Hot peppers keep well in the fridge, especially in the crisper drawer. I often keep hot peppers in a plastic bag so that they don’t spread their heat or flavor to other fridge items.

Carrots // Refrigerate carrots in a plastic bag. They will easily keep for 2-4 weeks this way. If your carrots had tops, remove them prior to storage and store the tops separately in a separate bag. They should last 2-3 days.

Celery // Celery releases a gas known as ethylene. It is therefore should not be stored in plastic — This will trap the gas and cause quick spoilage. For best storage, wrap in aluminum foil and store in the fridge.

Shallots // Store in a cool dark place until ready to use. These have been cured and should store for months, though you should use within a month for best quality.

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We are having a truly beautiful August at Raleigh’s Hillside Farm. With warm days and cool nights, both the crops and the farmers are in great spirits. The tomatoes are just beginning to reach peak production, and hauling in a thousand of pounds of tomatoes each week is so much more enjoyable when temperatures barely rise above 80 degrees. This tomato season has been an absolute joy so far both in weather for harvesting and the actual state of the crop. We’re just starting to see the first significant signs of disease and pest damage but they are still nothing compared to the last couple of years. If rain stays moderate, we can expect another month of tomatoes in your CSA boxes!

If you have noticed, the eggplant is also thrilled with this weather. We are having a tremendous eggplant year, hauling in 200-300 pounds of eggplant each week (when we are used to harvests barely half to a third of that size). We didn’t plan to give you so much eggplant this year but sometimes the crop decides how much members will receive. With both eggplants and tomatoes, you are experiencing a real “shared bounty” experience. One of the pillars of CSA is the concept of shared risk and shared bounty. We talk about this a little bit in our CSA handbook but essentially it just means that when a crop does well, you will receive a lot more than is usual, and when a crop does poorly, you will receive a little less.

On the reverse side of the bounty, you may have noticed that you received a lot less cucumbers this year than in the past. There were weeks in past seasons where we gave 4-5 cucumbers a week for the full month of July. Sadly, that wasn’t the case this year. Both of our cucumber plantings got diseased fairly quickly this year and that disease spread fast with the early summer rains. It’s completely normal for CSA boxes to fluctuate like this from year to year, and it’s up to your farmer to help you understand the unique personality of each season.

The winter squash field is still looking amazing, and we’re feeling very optimistic about this crop this year. Just like with tomatoes, winter squash is a crop we’ve really struggled with in past years because of the amount of rain received in August. Though we have had some big storms rolling through lately, they came after a pretty long dry spell. If the storms can stay light (none of that crazy 5-7 inches at a time stuff like last year) and relatively infrequent (no more than one or two a week), we expect a great bounty of acorn and butternut squash for the September CSA boxes.

The fall brassica field is also looking absolutely lovely. This field is row covered to keep the pests off and to help create a greenhouse effect that will speed up their growth so we can have some cabbage and broccoli in time for the last October boxes. We uncovered about half of it on Friday to get some weeding done, and it’s always so much fun to unveil part of a field and see how its doing. We spot check to make sure plants are staying watered but generally we won’t see a crop that’s under row cover for a week or two. When you uncover it to weed, it’s so exciting to see crops double or triple in size. We’ll continue weeding the rest of this field later this week.

In other news, Leo the farm cat (also known as Grizzly also known as Gravy also known as Derek) was adopted on Thursday. Our employee Zoe has been falling in love with him since the minute he wandered onto our farm about a month ago. She’s been waiting for the right time to take him home and that moment came last week. The farm crew will miss him and the silly energy a feline friend always brings to the harvest days, but we’re so happy to see him go to a great home.

-L&K

P.S. We just wanted to let you know that we’ve got a date for the Fall Harvest Party!! It will be September 28th from 11-3 p.m. and we’re so excited to have a CSA-member led CHILI COOKOFF at this event!! We’ll also have fresh apple cider alongside more apples for pressing as well as a caramel apple building station again for the kiddos. It should be a perfect fall day at the farm. You can find our Chili Cookoff and party sign-up form here.

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VEGGIE ID: Hot peppers

Consider this your official warning— all these peppers are hot!! The yellow ones are banana peppers and they are the mildest of the hot peppers we grow. Even if you eat these raw, they likely won’t hurt you. The red ones are cherry bomb peppers and one of our absolute favorites. They’re hot but also a little sweet. I think they are quite hot if eaten raw, but much better if added to a dish and cooked a bit. The green ones you are likely familiar with— these beauties are jalapenos. Remove the seeds and add a half or whole to most any of the dishes I share and I promise it won’t be too much heat.

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VEGGIE ID: SHALLOTS

The pretty pinkish purple thing in your box this week that looks a lot like an onion is actually a shallot. Their flavor is a lot richer and sweeter than an onion. They lend a lot of flavor to any dish, but I really love to mince them finely and use them raw in salad dressings made of buttermilk or caramelized and the focus on a pizza or other savory dish. I also love to use them in any salad that calls for raw onions because they have the perfect amount of subtle pungency.

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IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

You can expect 10-11 of these items in your box next week

Cherry Tomatoes

Slicer Tomatoes

Eggplant

Colored Bell Peppers or Italian Fryers

Jalapeno

Potatoes

Celery

Carrots

Daikon Radish

Onion

Chard

Mixed Herbs

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KATHY'S RECIPE CORNER

Early on, Lauren's mom instilled in her a great love of cooking. She's always had a garden and knows what to do with abundant produce better than anyone. We hope you enjoy her classic Wisconsin preparations of summer abundance. 

Butterstuffing and Tomatoes

1/3 cup butter

½ cup diagonally sliced celery       

½ cup green pepper strips

¼ cup chopped onion (or shallot)

1 teaspoon salt          

1 teaspoon dried basil                                      

1 cup seasoned stuffing mix or seasoned croutons

4 (2 ½”) tomatoes, cut in 8 wedges each

2 teaspoons sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large heavy skillet, melt butter. Add celery, green pepper and onion along with spices and saute over medium heat until crisply tender. Add stuffing, toss. Add tomatoes and sugar, toss gently. Cover, continue cooking until tomatoes are hot yet firm.

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box inspiration:

Every week I'll share the links to some of my favorite recipes for the produce in your box from my own blog as well as my favorite bloggers and chefs. I am a master recipe substituter so be sure to read my notes before clicking through to see what vegetables I am swapping for others and how I adapt favorite recipes time and time again with whatever is in season! Though some of the recipes I share may look complicated, I also love sharing tips for streamlining or suggesting other preparation suggestions in the notes of the recipes.

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Cantaloupe Gapacho (pictured on the left) // Uses Cantaloupe, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Hot Peppers (whatever hot pepper you got in your box this week will work!), Shallot // I have mixed feelings about gazpacho. It’s generally not my favorite thing, UNLESS there is a whole bunch of melon in there bringing the sweet, spicy, bright, tangy flavors to life

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Better Than Takeout Drunk Noodles // Uses Garlic, Carrots, Zucchini, Shallots, sub whatever hot pepper you got for the Fresno pepper, skip the red pepper, add 1-2 Eggplants in lieu of the chicken (if you do, I’d double the amount of oil used) // I’m not sure if you’ve ever had Thai drunken noodles before but it is one of my absolute guilty pleasure dishes from pretty much any Asian restaurant. Some are great. Some are not that good. And I’m so excited for this amazing version from one of my favorite recipe developers so I can have this comforting dish whenever I want!

Gluten-Free

photo by; Bon Appetit

photo by; Bon Appetit

Pork Chops with Celery & Almond Salad // Celery, sub Celery leaves for parsley, Shallot // In case you can't tell just by looking at it, fresh celery is NOTHING like store bought celery. The stems are thinner, the leaves are bigger, the green is more vibrant. Fresh, local celery doesn't need to be buried in soups or stocks (though I do use it for soup in the next recipe). It is worthy of starring as the main event on your dinner table. This simple salad from Bon Appetit is lovely and tender and delicate. It feels a little like fall thanks to the dried cranberries, but with the great cool weather we're having today, I'm feeling like fall anyways.

Vegetarian (if just making the salad), Gluten-Free

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Eggplant Parmesan Melts // Eggplant, sub Tomatoes or Heirloom Tomatoes or Cherry Tomatoes, Shallots and whatever hot peppers you received for packaged tomato sauce // I know only some of you got eggplant this week, but I have this feeling that you all may still have some lying around in your fridge from earlier weeks, and if that is true, here is what you should be doing with it. Thanks site host Erin for reminding me how much I love this simple eggplant parm recipe. It had somehow gotten lost from my memory.

Vegetarian

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Smoky Eggplant Dip // Uses Eggplant, Garlic // For me, a good loaf of bread is essential for August eating. I LOVE how easy the eating is this time of year (you’ll see my favorite tomato toast recipe below!). Grill up some veg and eat it with a side of crusty bread or in this case, roast some veg and process it into a spread for your bread and eat it alongside a cucumber and tomato salad. Voila. Dinner time!

Vegetarian, Vegan

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Roasted Carrots with Avocado & Yogurt // Uses Carrots, sub Shallots for garlic // The carrots we gave you this week are PERFECT. No need to peel them or really do anything to them at all, but if you must, I love this simple sheet-pan dish. It’s a late summer favorite paired with some steak or grilled chicken.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini // Uses Zucchini or Summer Squash, sub Green Bell Pepper for red pepper, sub 2-3 cups roughly chopped Tomatoes for tomato sauce // This recipe is a little putsy but damn is it delicious. I love it with fresh tomatoes instead of sauce and some store-bought (or frozen) pesto to keep things a little easier.

Gluten-Free

photo by: Bon Appetit

photo by: Bon Appetit

Tomato Toast // Uses Tomatoes, Garlic // If you haven’t started or ended your day with a giant piece of tomato toast, you have not yet experienced the beauty of summer eating at its simplest. I love this crunchy yet fresh topping of sesame seeds and chives, but you could really play around with what exactly you sprinkle on top (maybe some fried garlic?). You can also make it vegan by using avocado instead of the mayo (still mix it with the garlic and lemon).

Vegetarian

photo by: Jamie Oliver

photo by: Jamie Oliver

Tomato Soup with Carrots & Celery // Tomatoes, Carrots, Celery, Onion // I know this lovely cool spell likely won't last long so I'm relishing in it eating all the delicious hearty, tomato-y soups I can. And I'm thinking to the future with them too! I actually just made a bunch of this tomato soup and froze the majority of it in freezer-safe mason jars. I can't wait to pull a jar of soup out of the freezer on a busy fall or winter day when I don't know what to bring for lunch and be met with amazing summer flavors!

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Carrot Cake with Cider & Olive Oil // Carrots // Since we are finally receiving the first of the cider in our apple shares this week AND the first of the carrots (and I'm patiently willing fall into being), I thought this cake might be a lovely treat for your household. I'm all for summer abundance and non-stop simple tomato dishes, but I love to balance them with something fun and silly like a giant loaf of carrot cake!

Vegetarian

CSA Newsletter: Week 10

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IN YOUR BOX THIS WEEK

Cantaloupe (Small Shares Only) // Store in the fridge. Once cut open, store leftover melon in the fridge wrapped with plastic wrap. The flesh will dry out if left exposed. Use them quickly.

Sweet Corn // Keep corn unhusked in the fridge until ready to use. Use as soon as possible. If you don’t think you’ll use it right away store it on ice.

Cherry Tomatoes // Most tomatoes should be kept out on the counter at room temperature, but cherry tomatoes need to be stored in the fridge or they over-ripen quickly.

Slicer or Heirloom Tomatoes // Store at room temperature for up to a week. Do not refrigerate. Use heirlooms much more quickly, immediately if you can.

Eggplant // Eggplant is very perishable. Use quickly or at least within the week. Many people recommend not storing in the fridge because it will get soggy quickly, but we generally do and just use it within a couple days. You can cube it and freeze it for soups or curries if you know you won’t get to it right away.

Zucchini or Summer Squash // Zucchini and summer squash spoil most quickly in very warm or very cool temperatures. They can be stored in the crisper drawer of your fridge, but try to use within a week as they will get soggy quickly in there.

Cucumbers // Store in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Try to use within one week.

Green Bell Peppers // Refrigerate peppers, unwashed, in the vegetable drawer. Moisture makes them spoil faster so don’t store in a plastic bag.

Shishitos or Poblanos // Hot peppers keep well in the fridge, especially in the crisper drawer. I often keep hot peppers in a plastic bag so that they don’t spread their heat or flavor to other fridge items.

Carrots // Refrigerate carrots in a plastic bag. They will easily keep for 2-4 weeks this way. If your carrots had tops, remove them prior to storage and store the tops separately in a separate bag. They should last 2-3 days.

Garlic // Store in a cool drafty place, preferably out of direct sunlight. Use within a couple weeks. They will store for several months but the quality will begin to suffer the longer you wait to use them.

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This time of year just always seems to sneak up on us in the most wonderful way. We are so laser focused on getting all the fall crops into the ground, harvesting the first of the tomatoes, preparing for Soil Sisters, figuring out how to get away for Kyle’s birthday (more on this later!), and just generally trying to survive the mania that is July on a vegetable farm, that all of a sudden we look up, realize the CSA is half over, and discover that we’ve made it to the most beautifully abundant time of the year.

From now on, the fields will only get less full. And though there are parts of that that feel bittersweet, it’s mostly the exhale we’ve been waiting for since early May. The scales have tipped. There is still plenty to harvest and the pace certainly isn’t slow, but it stops feeling so much like a race—like we can’t sleep a full 8 hours or take a full weekend off because we may never catch up.

The biggest focus of our weeks now, aside from getting a succession of lettuce, scallions, and fennel transplanted every couple of weeks, is keeping up with the zucchini and tomatoes (which really demand constant attention through at least the end of August) and hauling in all the storage crops.

We began with the garlic in mid-July. The crew got most of it dug on one lovely Wednesday afternoon after we packed your CSA boxes. We covered our greenhouse with shade cloth and transitioned the space into a curing house for our alliums. This is the same garlic you are receiving in your box this week. You will likely only receive it once since we love to hold onto the smallest garlic for next year’s green garlic and keep saving more and more of the biggest garlic for seed garlic (the less we give this year means the more we can plant for next year). We’ve only been growing our own seed garlic for three years so we are still working on increasing our little patch exponentially.

Next up on the storage crop harvest list was the shallots. We harvested all of these at the end of our Tuesday CSA harvest last week and brought them into the greenhouse for curing on Wednesday. If all goes to plan you will receive these next week! Over the weekend, our crew member Rebecca took care of the farm while Kyle and I headed to a cabin on Lake Waubesa to celebrate his birthday with his family. Rebecca not only kept the greenhouse water and zucchini harvested, she also hauled in 300 feet of yellow onions! This is what you see below.

We’ll keep chipping away at the remaining five beds of onions, harvesting them and dragging them into the greenhouse whenever we have a spare moment. Once they’ve dried a bit in there, we will begin to clip the tops and move them into crates and then bags. Hauling in the onions and getting them stored away will likely take the rest of August and then, before you know it, we’ll begin to bring in the potatoes and winter squash!

Late summer into early fall continues like this. We harvest what’s ready in the field while also focusing on getting storage crops curing. It’s some of the most fun we’ll have on the farm—some of the onion times you get to clear a whole crop at one time and take it to the scale. It feels amazing to write things like 283 pounds of shallots of 1000 pounds of Walla Walla onions in the harvest log. It’s our chance to really see what our fields are capable of, to understand the gravity and weight of all our little four acres produces. We’re giddy to be here in the middle of late summer, and we hope you’re savoring just as much of these August days as we are.

-L&K   

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VEGGIE ID: SHISHITO PEPPERS

Shishito peppers are a relatively new variety to us. We grew them for the first time last year and fell absolutely in love with them. These peppers are a Japanese variety that became real trendy a few years back, but over time have proved they have staying power. The peppers are thin-skinned, crunchy and sweet, but the best thing about them is that they don't take much work. You don't need to seed them or even cut them at all.

I think these peppers are made for a vegetable skewer with some beef and onions,  but most folks swear by just tossing them in a pan until blistered. Here is a great link that teaches you how to blister them and also shares a few great recipes. If you aren't feeling too creative or like learning a new veggie, don't distress, you can also chop them up and throw them in anything that calls for green peppers or mild chile peppers.

We don't grow a ton of these peppers (because if we did you'd wind up getting them every single week) so instead these beauties will be rotated through your CSA boxes until everyone gets some!

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IN YOUR BOX NEXT WEEK

You can expect 11-12 of these items in your box next week

Sweet Corn

Cucumber

Zucchini

Summer Squash

Eggplant

Cherry Tomatoes

Slicer Tomatoes

Colored Bell Peppers or Italian Fryers

Curly Kale

Celery

Carrots

Daikon

Shallots

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KATHY'S RECIPE CORNER

Early on, Lauren's mom instilled in her a great love of cooking. She's always had a garden and knows what to do with abundant produce better than anyone. We hope you enjoy her classic Wisconsin preparations of summer abundance. 

Ratatouille Pasta 

1 pound ground meat; hamburger, pork, turkey, whatever! 

1 or 2 mild peppers, diced 

3 shallots or 1 large onion, minced 

2 garlic cloves, minced 

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced 

2 teaspoons Italian seasonings 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

2 – 3 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled (dip in boiling water for 30 seconds) and diced

1 medium eggplant, cubed in ½” cubes

1 zucchini or summer squash, cubed 

4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cubed 

8 ounces rotini pasta, cooked 

Shredded parmesan, optional 

  1. Cook ground meat in a large skillet. Drain fat. Add pepper, shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Saute 5-10 minutes. Add seasonings, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini.  Simmer for another 10 minutes. Add cream cheese, stir until melted.

  2. Stir in cooked, al dente pasta. Top with shredded parmesan just before serving.

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box inspiration:

Every week I'll share the links to some of my favorite recipes for the produce in your box from my own blog as well as my favorite bloggers and chefs. I am a master recipe substituter so be sure to read my notes before clicking through to see what vegetables I am swapping for others and how I adapt favorite recipes time and time again with whatever is in season! Though some of the recipes I share may look complicated, I also love sharing tips for streamlining or suggesting other preparation suggestions in the notes of the recipes.

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Mason Jar Caprese // Uses Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Chives // Meet one of my absolute favorite summer lunches (especially when I’m about to run out the door on my bike and realize there is nothing in the fridge for me to take to work). This recipe came to being because of that exact reason. This is the world’s most portable caprese and making it in the morning when you plan to eat it for lunch will really give all the flavors time to meld and come together.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Better Than Takeout Drunk Noodles // Uses Garlic, Carrots, Zucchini, sub an Onion from the last couple weeks for the Shallots and Green Onion, sub Poblano or a couple Shishitos for the Fresno pepper, sub Green Pepper for red one // I’m not sure if you’ve ever had Thai drunken noodles before but it is one of my absolute guilty pleasure dishes from pretty much any Asian restaurant. Some are great. Some are not that good. And I’m so excited for this amazing version from one of my favorite recipe developers so I can have this comforting dish whenever I want!

Gluten-Free

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Hummus Heaped with Tomatoes & Cucumbers // Uses Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers, feel free to add some diced Green Pepper or Poblano // Now that we’ve made it to tomato season, simple dinners are key. Smitten makes her own hummus here but you absolutely would not have too. One of our favorite meals is taking a pita and dragging it through hummus and a few veggie salads. This puts that all together into one giant bowl of snacky dinner goodness. I am currently also obsessed with the roasted eggplant from this recipe and highly recommend you add some of that to your platter.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free (with the right pita)

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Smoky Eggplant Dip // Uses Eggplant, Garlic // For me, a good loaf of bread is essential for August eating. I LOVE how easy the eating is this time of year (you’ll see my favorite tomato toast recipe below!). Grill up some veg and eat it with a side of crusty bread or in this case, roast some veg and process it into a spread for your bread and eat it alongside a cucumber and tomato salad. Voila. Dinner time!

Vegetarian, Vegan

photo by: Bon Appeit

photo by: Bon Appeit

Grilled Corn & Poblano Chile Salad // Uses Sweet Corn, Poblanos (or substitute a few Shishitos or a Bell Pepper), feel free to skip the Scallions and throw in a whole bunch of garlic instead // Not much better than a grilled corn salad ESPECIALLY when paired with the incredible poblanos in some of your boxes this week!

Vegetarian, Vegan

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Roasted Carrots with Avocado & Yogurt // Uses Carrots, Garlic // The carrots we gave you this week are PERFECT. No need to peel them or really do anything to them at all, but if you must, I love this simple sheet-pan dish. It’s a late summer favorite paired with some steak or grilled chicken.

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

photo by: Half Baked Harvest

Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini // Uses Zucchini or Summer Squash, sub Green Bell Pepper for red pepper, sub 2-3 cups roughly chopped Tomatoes for tomato sauce // This recipe is a little putsy but damn is it delicious. I love it with fresh tomatoes instead of sauce and some store-bought (or frozen) pesto to keep things a little easier.

Gluten-Free

photo by: Bon Appetit

photo by: Bon Appetit

Tomato Toast // Uses Tomatoes, Garlic // If you haven’t started or ended your day with a giant piece of tomato toast, you have not yet experienced the beauty of summer eating at its simplest. I love this crunchy yet fresh topping of sesame seeds and chives, but you could really play around with what exactly you sprinkle on top (maybe some fried garlic?). You can also make it vegan by using avocado instead of the mayo (still mix it with the garlic and lemon).

Vegetarian

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Zucchini Quesadillas // Uses Zucchini or Summer Squash, Jalapeno, feel free to add some diced Green Pepper or Onion to the saute // Dealing with too much of a particular veg? The answer almost always is quesadillas!

Vegetarian, Gluten-Free

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

photo by: Dishing up the Dirt

Wine Braised Eggplant & Tomato Pasta // Uses Eggplant, Cherry Tomatoes, sub Chives for Parsley, add some Thyme if you have it // This dish would be amazing even without the wine braising, but that really takes things to the next level.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free (with the right pasta)

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

photo by: Smitten Kitchen

Takeout Style Sesame Noodles with Cucumber // Uses Cucumber, Garlic, add in Green Bell Pepper, Poblano and/or a couple Shishitos (I usually finely dice about a cup of peppers to sprinkle on top) // Okay okay, two takeout-style noodle recipes in one newsletter. Clearly I am having a craving. But I just had to share this recipe before the cucumbers are finished!

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free (with tamari instead of soy sauce)