Your share this week includes red beets, bolero carrots, sweet onions, cucumbers, peppers, purple potatoes, green beans, zucchini, lemon basil, thyme, and chives. The green beans are just starting so this first bunch is going to be very young and tender.
Lemon basil has a unique lemon scent that makes a great addition to any pasta, chicken, or tuna salad. Its flavor is a perfect partner to seafood dishes and is also great in cocktails. The purple marker potatoes are a great multi-purpose potato that has lavender colored flesh all the way through. The color is due to the presence of anthocyanin, a flavonoid that is a great antioxidant. These potatoes can be roasted, baked, steamed, or fried. Their color makes them a fun addition to potato salad. To keep the bright purple color, add a dash of white wine vinegar to the cooking liquid. Peppers this week include a mix of Antohi and Nardello sweet peppers. The Antohi pepper is named after a touring acrobat that brought the seeds to the United States from his mother’s garden in Romania. This yellow pepper is mild and sweet. Nardello peppers are another heirloom variety that hails from southern Italy and named after the man who brought the seed to the United States. These sweet peppers are mild and sweet with a crinkly green exterior. If not using right away, store peppers in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will keep for a week or more but too much moisture in the bag will cause them to mold. Fresh peppers are great additions to salads and veggie platters but can also be stuffed, grilled, or roasted. Both varieties make a great addition to stir-fries, veggie browns, quesadillas and soup. Sweet peppers go well with tomatoes, eggplant, onions, summer squash, olives, capers, mozzarella, Fontina, goat cheese, basil, garlic, and olive oil. Slicing cucumbers are a refreshing treat on these hot days. Making sure they are free of dirt and dry, cucumbers can be stored in a plastic bad in the refrigerator for a week or longer. As they sit, slicing cukes tend to soften so they are best eaten fresh. Sliced thin, cucumbers are a treat on any sandwich or salad, served on a veggie platter or just eaten fresh with a sprinkling of salt. For a twist on a refreshing summer drink, add very thin slices of cucumber to sparkling water or as a garnish to gin and tonics. Once cut open, wrap cut end in plastic wrap.
Rice Vinegar Cucumbers
Adapted from Mustards by Cindy Pawlcyn, This refreshing salad goes well with shredded cabbage, rice noodles, and grilled chicken.
2 cucumbers cut in half, seeded, and sliced into ¼” half rounds
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large carrot, julienned
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint or basil
2 scallions, sliced thinly
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
Sprinkle cucumber slices with salt and allow to sit for 20 minutes, then squeeze gently and drain. Combine the cucumber, carrot, garlic, ginger, mint and scallions in a bowl. Combine the rice vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Pour the cooled vinegar over the vegetables and allow them to marinate at room temperature, tossing occasionally, until you are ready to serve the salad. This can be done up to 2 hours ahead of serving.
Beet Risotto with Greens (Serves 4)
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, This recipe from Deborah Madison is delicious on its own or served with grilled salmon, lamb, or pork.
5 ½ to 6 ½ cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup finely diced onion
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped basil
2 to 3 medium beets, peeled and grated
about 2 cups 2 to 3 cups greens (beet, kale, chard, spinach) stems removed
finely chopped salt and freshly milled pepper
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
Have the stock simmering on the stove. Heat the butter in a wide, heavy bottom pot, add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rice, stir to coat it well, and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer until it’s absorbed, then stir in half the parsley, the basil, grated beets, and the chard or kale. Add 2 cups stock, cover, and cook at a simmer until the stock is absorbed. Begin adding the remaining stock in ½ cup increments, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed before adding the next. When you have 1 cup left, add the beet greens or spinach. Taste for salt, season with pepper, then stir in the lemon zest and juice. Serve dusted with the cheese and remaining parsley.