A few weeks ago I started receiving my weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivery from a nearby farm. You can find more information on how a CSA works by visiting the Local Harvest site.
I look forward to this season every year because I now have available the freshest produce to cook with each week. The cover photo above shows what vegetables I received in my box last week. Jeta Farms is a family owned local farm, operated by Eddie Frank, and the farm sells their produce at local farmers’ markets, including the Palafox Market in Pensacola, FL on Saturday mornings.
Here are a few recipes I made with the vegetables in this week’s share.
Italian Frying Peppers
- 6 Italian frying peppers
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove smashed and cut in half
- Pinch of salt and pepper
Heat oil and garlic in a small saute pan. Lower heat and add the whole peppers. Saute slowly until lightly brown on all sides. Serve at room temperature. These peppers are delicious as an appetizer or as a side dish.
Homemade Refrigerator Dill Pickles
Makes 2 quarts. I use old mayonnaise jars with screw top lids.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups white distilled vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dill seed
- 6 thinly sliced garlic cloves
- 6-8 pickling cucumbers (Kirby)
- A few sprigs of dill
- 2 clean quart size jars
Combine water, vinegar, sugar, kosher salt, pepper, dill seed and garlic in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; stir.
Quarter pickling cucumbers lengthwise and divide evenly in the jars; add fresh dill.
Top with the hot vinegar mixture. Cover and refrigerate for several days before eating. The pickles keep for a few months in the refrigerator.
Potato Leek Soup
- 3 cups chopped leeks, light green and white parts
- 1 cup chopped sweet onions
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ pounds peeled potatoes, cubed
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup evaporated canned milk
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 2 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
Heat butter in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the celery, leeks and onion and saute until tender. Add garlic and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the chicken broth, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover the pot and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in a processor.
Add the evaporated milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer (do not boil). Serve in individual bowls and top each bowl with chives and bacon.
Grilled Yellow Squash
This is a favorite in our family – well – anything I put basil pesto on becomes a favorite with them.
- 1/2 cup fresh basil pesto
- 1/4 cup toasted pine (pignoli) nuts
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the grill
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 medium summer squash, (about 1 pound), sliced diagonally 1/4 inch thick
Preheat grill to medium-high. Oil the grates.
Combine pesto and lemon juice in a small bowl.
Brush both sides of the squash slices with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with the salt.
Grill the squash until browned and tender, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Serve topped with the pesto and the toasted nuts.
Eggplant And Fresh Tomato Bake
Jeta Farms grows the most delicious eggplant, Rosa Bianca, an Italian Heirloom eggplant. It is a medium size, round shaped eggplant with lavender-white skin and creamy white flesh with no taste of bitterness and very mild in flavor.
This is my summer version of eggplant parmesan.
- 2 Rosa Bianca Heirloom Eggplants (14-15 oz each)
- Dried Italian bread crumbs
- !/2 cup refrigerated egg substitute or 2 eggs
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
- 5-6 fresh plum tomatoes, sliced thin
- Salt and pepper
- Dried Italian seasoning
- Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Oil two baking sheets.
Place the sliced tomatoes on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Let the tomatoes drain while you prepare the eggplant.
Dip eggplant slices in the egg substitute and then coat in the dried bread crumbs. Place the breaded eggplant on the prepared baking pans and bake until brown, about 20 minutes, turning the slices over halfway through baking.
Oil an 8 inch square glass baking pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with eggplant slices and add half the sliced tomatoes and half of the cheese.
Add another layer of eggplant slices, tomatoes and cheese. Sprinkle the top layer with dried Italian seasoning. Cover the dish with foil.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 10 minutes more.
Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Brown Sugar Zucchini Bread
- 3 cups self-rising flour (King Arthur brand is what I use)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups shredded zucchini
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- Cooking spray
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Spray two 8-inch loaf pans with cooking spray and set aside.
Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
In a smaller bowl combine eggs, oil and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and mix well.
Fold in the zucchini and walnuts.
Divide the mixture evenly between the two baking pans.
Bake until deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 60 minutes.
Cool in pans on wire racks for 30 minutes; then remove bread from the pans and continue cooling on wire racks.
This bread freezes well.
When you become a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), you purchase a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer. Weekly during the growing season in your area, your farmer will deliver that share of produce to a convenient drop-off location in your neighborhood. CSA members pay for an entire season of produce upfront and shares usually include 7-10 types of vegetables; enough for a family of 2-3 people.
This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. The farmers receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow and the farmers have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow. The consumer gets to eat fresh picked food with all the flavor and vitamin benefits, learn more about how the food is grown and develop a relationship with the farmer who grows the food.
My CSA is Jeta Farms, a family owned and operated farm located in Elberta, Al. They offer a variety of vegetables and some specialty and heirloom varieties. They do not plant GMO vegetable crops. I pick up my share on Saturday mornings and the produce is truly fresh and delicious. As soon as I get my share home, I start planning the week’s menu.
See the photo at the top of the post for last Saturday’s share, which included: a dozen ears of corn-on-the-cob, 2 eggplant, 4 plum tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, a package of blackberries, 2 large bell peppers, 4 patty pan squash, a pound of Italian green beans, a sack (about 5 lbs) of potatoes, lots of zucchini and yellow squash.
I was able to create a whole week’s worth of meals using these vegetables. All the herbs used in the recipes come from my garden.
- Sunday: Grilled Italian sausage, 2 grilled corn on the cob (from the corn share) and potato salad (from the potato share)
- Monday: Eggplant-Tomato Bake (recipe below) and sautéed zucchini (from the zucchini share) over Orecchiette pasta
- Tuesday: Stuffed peppers (recipe below) and cucumber (from the cucumber share) salad
- Wednesday: Grilled fish, grilled summer squash (recipe below) and potato salad
- Thursday: Chicken Oreganata, Italian green beans (recipe below) and eggplant bake
- Friday: Corn Chowder (recipe below) and hash-browned potatoes (from the potato share) with eggs
- Saturday: Grilled shrimp, grilled patty pan squash (recipe below) and tomato salad
- The blackberries became dessert; see the Blackberry Crumble recipe in my post on Using Summer Fruit
Here are some of the recipes I used for this menu.
Eggplant Tomato Bake
- 2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/4” round slices (from the eggplant share)
- 3/4 lb package fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- 4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4”slices (from the tomato share)
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup Egg Beaters (refrigerated egg substitute)
- Olive oil
- Fresh or dried oregano
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Oil two baking sheets.
Dip eggplant slices in the egg substitute and then coat in the bread crumbs. Place the slices on the prepared pans and bake until brown, about 20 minutes, turning the slices over halfway through baking.
Oil a 13 x 9 inch glass baking pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with eggplant slices and add half the tomatoes and half of the cheese. Add another layer of eggplant slices, tomatoes and cheese. Sprinkle the top layer with oregano.
Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lb ground turkey
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- Fresh corn kernels, cut off 2 cobs from the corn share
- 1/2 cup yellow squash, diced (from the squash share)
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 2 large bell peppers: halved and seeded (from the bell pepper share)
- 4 heaping tablespoons of your favorite prepared BBQ sauce
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the ground turkey until browned..
Add the chopped garlic, onion, corn and squash; stir and heat through. Season mixture with sea salt and pepper. Stir well to combine the flavors. Remove from heat. Add in the chopped parsley and cheese.
Coat a shallow baking dish that will fit the halved peppers with cooking spray. Stuff the halved peppers with the turkey mixture, pressing it in firmly. Place the stuffed peppers in the baking dish. Top each pepper with a spoonful of BBQ sauce.
Pour about an inch of hot boiled water into the bottom of the baking pan, around the peppers, and loosely cover the pan with a foil tent. This helps to cook the peppers. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the peppers are fork tender.
Grilled Summer Squash
- 1-1/2 lbs green and yellow squash, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick ovals (from the squash share)
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Prepare a gas or charcoal grill fire.
In a colander, toss the squash with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and drain for 30 minutes; transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, put the basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/4 cup of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor and purée until smooth.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, boil the balsamic vinegar until syrupy and reduced to about 2 tablespoons., 8 to 10 minutes.
Mix the squash with the remaining 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Grill, turning once, until golden and tender, 8 to 12 minutes.
Arrange the squash on a platter, dot with the pesto and balsamic syrup. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.
Italian Flat Green Beans With Tomatoes and Garlic
- 1 lb Italian flat green beans, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 3-inch pieces (from the green bean share)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 medium garlic cloves, cut into very thin slices ( a 1/4 cup)
- 1 tomato, cut into 1/2-inch dice ( 8 ounces)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
- 6 -8 basil leaves, cut into chiffonade ( stacked, then rolled tightly and cut into very thin strips)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and cook for 5 minutes. Drain immediately.
While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a medium sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the garlic slices, distributing them evenly. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the slices become almost translucent and start to brown on the edges; be careful not to let the garlic burn.
Add the diced tomato and salt and pepper to taste, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, so that the tomato is heated through. Add the cooked green beans and heat through for 1 to 2 minutes; mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Transfer to a serving dish and top with the basil, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- 8 corn on the cob from the corn share
- Corn Stock, see below
- 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
- 2 large carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 ribs celery, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 yellow squash, diced (from the squash share)
- 2 lbs potatoes, diced (from the potato share)
- 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning (such as Old Bay)
- 2 fresh whole sprigs of thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups (1 can) evaporated whole milk
Cut the corn kernels from the 8 cobs and reserve the corn and cobs separately. Place the corn cobs and 4 quarts water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and immediately reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the cobs and discard.
Add half the reserved corn and all the vegetables to the soup pot and return the broth to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
With an immersion blender, puree the soup right in the soup pot. Add the seasonings, remaining corn and milk. Heat on low for about 15 minutes or until the corn is tender.
Grilled Patty Pan Squash with Italian Salsa Verde
For the salsa verde:
- 1 large garlic clove, halved,
- Salt to taste
- 1 anchovy fillet, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup (tightly packed) parsley leaves
- Freshly ground pepper
For the squash:
- 4 small to medium patty pan squash from the squash share
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine the garlic, salt, anchovy fillet and capers in a food processor. With the motor running add the olive oil with the parsley and blend to a purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If serving within a few hours, allow to sit at room temperature. Otherwise, refrigerate and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Prepare an outdoor grill.
Slice the patty pan squash in half horizontally and coat with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Grill the squash for about 5 minutes on each side or until they are tender all the way through.
Transfer the squash to a serving platter. Top each one with a teaspoon or two of the salsa verde and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
- Five Reasons to Join a CSA (viewsfromhere.com)
- Summer CSA: Week 1 (fitnessandfeta.com)
- Week 8: June 25, 2014 (sneadsfarm.wordpress.com)
The concept of farm fresh food is gaining steam these days as Americans are looking at eating healthier. One way to accomplish this is by stocking fresh fruit and vegetables in your refrigerator. Farm fresh foods are superior to food that you purchase from the grocery store because they come directly to you from the farm. The fewer steps there are between your food’s source and your table, the less chance there is of contamination. Also, when you know where your food comes from and who grows it, you know a lot more about that food.
Now, with the local growing season in full swing, getting fresh produce is easier than ever. Farmers markets, produce stands and even roadside vendors are your best source for the freshest and most nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables.”When you buy locally grown, you’re getting the produce at its peak form,” says Darlene Price, senior nutrition resource educator at Orange County Cornell Cooperative Extension. “It’s ready to eat right now. When you buy your fresh produce in a supermarket, you’re never really sure how long it’s been sitting.”
Seemingly endless varieties are yet another advantage local farmers have over their giant commercial counterparts, who are restricted to crops that can survive long storage and the arduous transportation process. Local farmers plant what’s delicious, healthful and in local demand. “The large commercial farmers have to plant foods that will survive a lot of abuse,” says Louis Schultz, coordinator of the Florida market. “We’ve gotten very removed from our food. The average supermarket potato travels 1,500 miles. Local farmers don’t have to worry about factoring all that in. They can plant anything.”
The diversity available at the local markets means that a larger range of nutrients and disease-fighting phytochemicals — which give fruits and vegetables their bright, deep color — is there for the taking. Nutritionists advise us to “eat the rainbow,” and the color spectrum at a local farmers market is simply unrivaled.
Besides shopping at a farmer’s market you can join a CSA (community-supported agriculture) as a way to ensure a steady supply of fresh, local produce. Community-supported agriculture is a food production and distribution system that directly connects farmers and consumers. Consumers buy “shares” in a farm’s harvest in advance.The term “CSA” is also used to refer to an individual farm’s CSA program.
Farmers earn important early-season capital and have a guaranteed market for their produce. Barring a disastrous harvest, consumers enjoy overall lower food costs, field-fresh produce and greater access to high-demand fruits and vegetables, such as long-stem strawberries and heirloom tomatoes. Most CSA’s provide weekly deliveries or pickups, farm visits and other special events for members. For example, my CSA provides a fresh Christmas tree in December for all its members.
The recipes in this post take advantage of locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Cherry Tomato, Fennel and Arugula Salad
- 2 oz grated Parmesan cheese, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 lb. baby arugula leaves
- 1 large or 2 small bulbs fennel, stalks trimmed, outer layer removed, and cored
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or substitute 3 medium tomatoes cut into bite-size pieces, about 2 cups)
In a food processor, blend the Parmesan cheese, buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, mayonnaise and lemon juice until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Put the arugula in a large bowl. Using a mandoline set at a very thin setting or a vegetable peeler, shave the fennel and add to the arugula. Toss with a little of the dressing; just enough to coat the salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide the salad among 4 large salad plates and mound slightly. In another bowl toss the tomatoes with the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a little salt and pepper; scatter on the salads. Serve immediately, passing the remaining dressing at the table.
Baked Ziti and Summer Vegetables
Add color to baked ziti with yellow squash, zucchini and tomato.
4 servings (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups)
- 4 ounces uncooked whole grain ziti pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups chopped yellow squash
- 1 cup chopped zucchini
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 cups chopped tomato
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Cooking spray
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Coat an 8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to the pan. Add squash, zucchini and onion; saute 5 minutes. Add tomato and garlic; saute 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt and crushed red pepper.
Combine ricotta, remaining salt and egg in a small bowl. Stir into pasta mixture. Spoon pasta into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.
Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly and browned.
Chicken Cutlets with Bell Pepper Ragout
- 1 1/4 lbs ripe plum tomatoes (6 to 8), cored, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 1 medium red or orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 small onion, cut into medium dice
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium clove garlic, mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced into cutlets
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed and patted dry
Position a rack 6 inches from the broiler heating element and heat the broiler on high.
Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with foil. Put the tomatoes cut side up on one side of the pan and the peppers and onions on the other side of the pan. Drizzle everything with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with the paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix the seasonings into the peppers and onions.
Broil until the tomatoes are collapsed, about 7 minutes. Turn the tomatoes over, mix the peppers and onions again and broil until the tomato skins have large black spots and the peppers and onions are tender, about 5 minutes more.
Use tongs to pull the skins off the tomatoes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a cutting board.
Put the peppers and onions in a large bowl and add the garlic paste. Chop the tomatoes and add to the bowl with the other vegetables. Mix well. Keep warm.
Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Put the flour in a shallow pan. Season the chicken with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; dredge in the flour.
Working in 2 batches, cook the chicken, turning once, until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and top with the ragout.
Wipe out the pan. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and fry the capers over medium-high heat until they pop open and become crisp, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle them over the chicken and ragout.
Fresh Fruit Salad with Creamy Lime Topping
- 1/4 cup light sour cream
- 2 tablespoons light frozen whipped topping
- 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lime peel
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 3 cups assorted fresh fruit (such as cut up mango, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple chunks, kiwifruit or strawberries)
- Lime zest for garnish
In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, whipped topping, the 1/2 teaspoon lime peel, powdered sugar and lime juice.
Divide fruit among six dessert dishes. Spoon 1 tablespoon sour cream mixture over fruit in each dish. If desired, garnish with additional lime zest.
- Veggie Haul: CSA Adventures Episode 1 (grassfedyogi.wordpress.com)
- Hooray for CSA! (alongaruralpath.wordpress.com)
- What is a CSA? (onespoonfull.wordpress.com)
- Cooking Your CSA: Arugula Walnut Pesto (freshpressedlife.com)
- Mini Meatballs over Summer Spaghetti (alilbitofrye.wordpress.com)