Notes From the Farm
This week we are including some great salsa-making veggies. The tomatillos are falling off the vine, thus a bit dirty. We do not wash them because it makes the fruit more susceptible to mold as moisture gets trapped in the papery husk. Simply peel, then wash them and prepare yourself for sticky fingers. The Anaheims we have taste-tested are mild. In the next two weeks we will be harvesting hotter peppers out of the hoop-house for those of you who like your pepper to bite back.
Salsa time is bittersweet because it means the end of the growing season is near. We are starting to gather some of the fall crops. We have a variety of winter squashes curing in the greenhouse and shallots and onions in the shade house. The cornstalks are browning and we seem to be feeding every Redwing Blackbird in the neighborhood. While some of the summer vegetables are fading, we will continue to have greens, tomatoes, peppers, salad mixes,cucumbers, herbs and summer squashes until it frosts. We think this is the best tasting time of the year. Dig in!
Fresh herbs this week include a mix of spearmint, marjoram, and basil. Veggies include summer squash/zucchini, kale, yellow beans, cucumber, golden beets, tomatillos, sweet onions, Anaheim chili peppers, and a carnival squash. You will also find salad greens with nasturtium flowers mixed in for a pleasant peppery taste.
Treat golden beets like red beets and continue to remove the tops before storage. The greens can be treated like swiss chard if you want to save them. Golden beets will turn brown if grated fresh and not cooked. If you want to keep them raw, try soaking grated beets in acidulated water in order to keep the color longer. Tomatillos can be stored at room temperature if you plan to use them quickly. Otherwise they do best stored in a perforated plastic bag or paper bag in your refrigerator. The squash will do best stored in a cool dry spot.
Anaheim chilies are moderate on the heat scale, but if you are sensitive to heat, make sure to remove the seeds and membrane before eating. Roasted and peeled, these chilies make a great addition to burritos, veggie egg scrambles, enchiladas, or salsas. If you don’t plan to use them while fresh, the whole chili can be roasted and then frozen for later use.
Carnival squash, which is a variety of acorn squash, has a beautiful multicolored exterior with a moderately sweet flesh. Roasted carnival squash makes a great side dish that can be topped with your favorite compound butter.
Native to Mexico, tomatillos make a great addition to many Mexican dishes. Make sure to remove the papery husk and rinse tomatillos before using. The fruit can be used raw but it takes well to cooking too. Roasting or simmering tomatillos can help mellow their slightly tart bite. Tomatillos are the key ingredient for salsa verde or chili verde, but can also be added to burrito or enchilada filling. Below you will find a simple recipe for a tomatillo-avocado salsa that goes well with nachos and grilled meats or vegetables.
The veggies these days are perfect for some pasta dishes that require only your taste buds and inspiration. Start by grating and salting a medium zucchini, letting it drain for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook off some off your favorite pasta in salted boiling water, drain and hold warm. In a large pan, heat some olive oil and briefly sauté minced garlic, adding grated zucchini and cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add a healthy dose of coarsely chopped tomatoes, cooked pasta, and a generous portion of grated parmesan or fresh mozzarella. Toss well to combine. This dish would benefit from a dollop of freshly made pesto. Serve immediately.
Courtesy of Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook by Cindy Pawlcyn
12-14 tomatillos, papery husks removed and rinsed well
2 small ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves only
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To make the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth and liquid, but not thin. Refrigerate until needed.