September 27, 2010 § Leave a comment
The smell of dewy tomato leaves is one of my favorite scents. It is fresh, earthy, intoxicating. During the blessed months of summer I can spend endless hours in the corner of my garden dedicated to colorful tomatoes inhaling the most gratifying smell on Earth. My favorite this summer: Purple Cherokee. No, Green Zebra. It is unfair to pick favorites.
Unfortunately for produce, the better you are, the quicker you will be attacked. This summer my colorful tomatos met their delicious death in the form of fresh tomato and grilled corn salads, classic caprese salads, toasty tomato sandwiches, rich sun dried cherry tomatoes, and most recently a tomato potato gratin perfect for the autumnal equinox.
September 27, 2010 § Leave a comment
Simple dishes can be so much more gratifying than spending hours slaving, blanching, dicing, measuring with hopes that all the effort is worth it in the end (which it usually is). This is one of those perfectly simple recipes. Vegetables picked earlier in the day with nothing masked by over processing, this versatile mix of whatever you happen to have could not be more perfect to welcome the crisp autumnal air. Saucy tomatoes, caramelized onions, pillowy eggplants, silky peppers and tender squash do all the work while you get to reap all their deliciousness.
This was prepared for Rushton Farms of Newtown Square,Pa as a recipe sampling for their CSA shareholders. The recipe was provided by the affiliated Willistown Conservation Trust’s wonderful Assistant Director of Development, Elizabeth Stokes.
Often times, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, for many reasons. Most recently due to my being constantly surrounded by, what I consider, the most beautiful place on Earth. Chester County, Pennsylvania. Only 40 minutes away from Philadelphia I can breath pure country air and eat luscious fresh food (two of my requirements for bliss) on a daily basis. Consequentially I want to make sure that my little piece of heaven stays heavenly. Which is why I became involved with the Land Trust and Rushton Farm. The Trust monitors wildlife preserves, provided easements to landowners and raises money for the community, basically taking care of my home for me. A couple of years ago they started a non-certified organic farm on one of their properties which grew into Rushton Farms, a Community Supported Agriculture farm. Whenever I am surrounded by the purity of the farm its as if I never want to leave.
On my most recent visit the farm was displaying an array of gorgeous vegetables; tomatoes, sweet peppers, poblano peppers, chili peppers, lettuces, kohlrabi, kale, boc choi, spaghetti squash, eggplants, and I am sure to be forgetting somethings. Maybe the clean air goes to my head but I become completely content when surrounded by farm food.
My point: make sure to find your own CSA for next seasons harvest. Try looking here.
Rushton Farm’s Roasted Vegetables
This is just a guideline for the method of roasting. Almost any veggies should be delicious in this. Also think about using different cheese and spices to take it in a different direction. Parmesan and oregano, goat and sage, blue and rosemary! Oh, the possibilities are endless. Just thinking about new additions makes me want to run to the garden. But here is the original.
4 ripe tomatoes
3 small or 1 large yellow squash
2 small or 1 large eggplant (peel globe eggplants to eliminate any bitterness, leave the skin on japanese eggplants)
2 sweet red peppers
1 cooking onion
olive oil for coating
1 block of feta cheese chopped up
Salt, pepper, and oregano
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut all of the vegetables into uniform 1 inch chunks and lay them in a single layer in a baking dish (or two). Drizzle with a nice little coating of oil, and sprinkle with a healthy dose of salt, a less healthy dose pepper and about three pinches of oregano, toss it all together and place it in the oven until the edges start to get a nice caramelization, about 40 minutes. Mix everything once in a while. If things look a little slow to get browned turn the heat up to 450.
When everything is toasted take out the roasting pans and sprinkle the feta across the top (and a little more salt never hurt). Return to the oven and melt the cheese. At the last minute turn on the broiler to get a nice browned bubbly cheese topping.
Remove from the oven and let cool for a couple of minutes.
September 23, 2010 § Leave a comment
I’not sure why it hadn’t occurred to me earlier in the summer that one of the easiest ways to preserve excess tomatoes is to dry them. The idea came to me when I was mourning the wrinkled little cherry tomatoes who met their unfortunate grave beneath the mess of sweet smelling tomato vines. Nature inspires delicious things. Quickly, I plucked as many sugary plump guys and began my sun drying.
Slice the tomatoes in half
Place them on a baking sheet or roasting pan.
Cover with a cheese cloth to protect from greedy little bugs.
Find a nice and sunny, hot location to leave the pan.
Bring the tomatoes in at night.
Put them out during the day for up to a week.
If the weather gets cloudy or you get impatient, heat the oven to its lowest temperature and oven dry the tomatoes for up to 10 hours.
The finished tomatoes should be soft, not moist. Wrinkly, not crunchy. Delicious, not burned.
Store them in a tupperware or jar.