Every year, around August, the squash starts to grow faster than we can eat it, and we have to get creative with our preparations. The solution? Squash noodles! Spiralized Squash “Pasta” If you’ve been thinking about getting a spiralizer, it’s a really a great tool for using up all that Squash you get in your CSA boxes. You can turn the Squash into veggie PASTA! Add some fresh veggies or sauteed veggies, plus some tomatoes (fresh or in sauce form), and you’ve got yourself some really awesome pasta. *Image courtesy of: http://www.twirlybites.com/spiralize/spiralized-zucchini/.
Hey, Everyone! Bob Cat here – Main Street Farms’ co-owner, farm manager, and lead educator. When my good friend Allan asked me to come help him start Main Street Farms 5 years ago, my main incentive to come aboard was…THE FOOD. I had little farm experience back then, but I had been eating my whole life and cooking almost just as long. Coming from an Italian background, I learned at an early age the value of good food made from real, natural ingredients. I couldn’t have dessert until I finished my veggies, so I quickly learned to love veggies. I have been dating a vegan for almost 2 years now, so my love of veggies (and ability to grow them in abundance) has really come in handy. Still, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the veggies. It’s important to keep it simple. Every item that comes in your CSA box can easily be broken down into 2 categories: SALAD or STIR FRY. Ask yourself: “Do I feel like cooking tonight?” If yes, fire up the wok (or large frying pan), sauté some veggies, add your protein of choice, and make some rice or noodles. Not in the mood to cook? Start chopping whatever is available, toss it on top of some lettuce, and you’ve got a salad! Speaking of proteins, I love meat as much as the next person, but there are a lot of other options out there if you are getting tired of always deciding between beef, chicken, pork, lamb, or fish. Try substituting some tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans, falafel, or other protein/meat substitute. Throughout this week, I’ll be sharing some simple meal ideas that are common in my rotation: greens and beans, hummus and veggie wraps, taco salad, fresh rolls, curried lentils, spiralized squash “pasta,” chili, nachos, sushi, falafel, pita pizza, and cucumber-tomato salad. Expect rough outlines of how I make these dishes – I’m not much of a recipe follower; I just follow my stomach, so I apologize if I’m not very specific with quantities. Most of these are made vegetarian but can easily be made with your meat of choice. Hope you enjoy!
Heirloom tomato harvest is in full swing on the farm, and with the bounty that surrounds us, some tips are in order! Before getting into all of that, though, let’s talk about what makes these tomatoes just so special: They are a variety that is many generations old! If you plant their seeds, the same variety will consistently grow (unlike the hybrid tomatoes at the grocery store, which yield unpredictable results). They are naturally more disease-resistant than commercial tomatoes, but they have a shorter shelf life. Due to this somewhat fragile nature, we keep ours growing in our greenhouses, where they are safe and cozy. They lack the genetic mutation that makes conventional tomatoes perfectly round and red but, in exchange, can produce more natural sugars within the fruit, making them much more flavorful. Their many colors signify the presence of phytochemicals (disease-fighting, immune-boosting super substances) that are classified into the carotenoids (red, orange, purple), flavonoids (orange, yellow) and glucosinolates (greens), meaning they are saturated with nutrients that fight cancer and inflammation and act as pro-provitamins! Now, on to the tips! Don’t be alarmed by how heirloom tomatoes look. They are often multi-colored, crazily shaped, and enormous, but they are perfect for eating! Never refrigerate your tomatoes. It will actually make them mealy. Store them on your counter at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. We pick our tomatoes only when they’re perfectly ripe and ready to eat on the very same day we pack them into on your CSA shares or bring them to the market. This ensures that you get the freshest, most optimal produce possible. These lovely, ripe tomatoes should be gobbled up within a few days of receiving them. If you find yourself with too many tomatoes on your hands, they freeze wonderfully. Simply blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds, peel off the thin skin, and core. Freeze whole or diced, depending on your preference. Make sure to leave about an inch of head space in the container or bag in which you pack them, as they will expand while freezing.
Still trying to figure out bok choy? The World’s Healthiest Foods has some great suggestions! Follow the link for more information on bok choy’s nutritional qualities and health benefits. Storing Bok Choy To store, place bok choy in a plastic storage bag removing as much of the air from the bag as possible. Keeping bok choy cold will keep it fresh and help it retain its vitamin C content. Put the whole head in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator. Bok choy will keep for about 1 week if properly stored. Tips for Preparing Bok Choy Unlike some of the other cruciferous vegetables, you can consume virtually all parts of bok choy without much trimming or worrying about problematic textures or cooking times. Chop leaf portion into 1/8″ slices and the stems into 1/2″ lengths for quick and even cooking. To get the most health benefits from bok choy, let sit for a minimum of 5 minutes before cooking. Sprinkling with lemon juice before letting them sit can further enhance its beneficial phytonutrient concentration.
When I was a child, I used to play in my mom’s herb garden in the backyard, pinching the leaves and rubbing them between my fingers, sniffing them gleefully. Even though I had no idea how to use them, the smells were heavenly. I loved them all, but sage was always my favorite, with its soft green hue and big velvety leaves concealing a powerful aroma. Sage is from the mint family, but in flavor, it’s more like rosemary, with a hint of pepper. It pairs wonderfully with rich foods, which is why we use it liberally in all our Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing dinners. But sage isn’t only for special occasions. Chop it up and sprinkle it over potatoes roasted in the oven. Season grilled chicken or pan-seared pork chops with it. Toss it in with freshly cooked pasta. The trick is to use just enough of the herb to complement your dish. Too much and it will hog the spotlight. In a great little article called “Sage – Off the Beaten Aisle,” J.M. Hirsch, food editor at the Associated Press, offers a variety of ways to incorporate sage into meals, based on common cuisines throughout Europe. Hopefully, his ideas will inspire you to be more adventurous with sage! *Photo courtesy of: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266480.php