Hello Tomatoes!

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Once again, it’s time to bid farewell to some now-familiar vegetables and to welcome the arrival of a mid-summer delight. The broad beans are finished for the season, as are the green and wax beans (though purple teepee and dragon tongue are still going strong). The rutabagas are fully thinned, our second seeding of lettuce has bolted, and this the last week for shelling peas.

Coming on strong: tomatoes! We sent four Oxheart tomatoes with each full share today and you can expect the tomatoes to continue right up until fall pick-up. The Oxheart may not be the prettiest tomatoes, but they are large and yield well whether the season is wet or dry.

You will also notice that we haven’t sent any zucchini this week. We picked small ones last week but thought we’d give the plants a chance to really start producing by not sending any this week. With some of the second seeding beginning to bloom, you should have a nice selection of zucchini for next week. And if we get some heat, you may have corn by then as well.

The cucumbers continue to produce abundantly; we hope you are enjoying them as much as we are! My favourite dish this week was a Greek salad with cucumbers, tomatoes (cherry and/or Oxheart), feta cheese, lettuce (or not), oregano, lemon juice, and olive oil. Mmm! I believe I made it three times over the course of the week and the kids keep asking for more. I am starting to run out of feta, but got a new batch started yesterday. Too bad we have to wait 2 weeks before it’s ready to eat!

Our potatoes, carrots, and beets continue to grow well, and the onions are looking promising as well. We have begun sending garlic, though we are a bit disappointed with the size of the heads this year. We will send the smallest ones first, and hopefully have some nice sized ones for winter use.

The cooking greens also continue steady: Swiss chard, perpetual spinach, and kale can be counted on through the season. For herbs this week you have a nice bunch of green onions, basil, purple basil, parsley, summer savory, and the last of the dill.

In keeping with the season, this was a week of heavy duty preserving in our household. Monday I froze beans, Tuesday I dried kale, Thursday I pickled beans, dried dill, and froze peas and beans, and Sunday I froze more peas and beans.

Our meals consisted of beets, peas, and Swiss chard rolls (see last week’s post for the recipe) for supper on Monday, leftover soup and bread with parsley and onions minced into spreadable cheese for lunch on Tuesday, and Shawn’s zucchini bean soup for lunch and supper on Wednesday (with Greek salad for supper). On Thursday I made another Greek salad to eat for lunch (along with leftovers) and a fabulous variation on saag paneer (curried spinach and paneer, see recipe below) for supper, which I served with boiled new potatoes. Shawn made the leftover curry into soup for Friday’s lunch, along with carrots, Great Northern beans, wax beans, and zucchini. The kids and I went to a wedding at St. Laurent on Friday and Saturday. We took shelling peas, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and carrots along to complement the wiener roast on Friday evening, and cukes and tomatoes to make yet another Greek salad for the potluck lunch on Saturday.

I have been realizing that it’s rather one-sided for me to do all the talking about what I’m doing with the vegetables, and have invited a couple of members to share their recipes and menu ideas. Next week, I will feature ideas from Jen in North Battleford. This week, I have a favourite recipe from Annette in Saskatoon:

Our Version of Pho Soup

This soup is a great way to enjoy large quantities of fresh herbs, and it tastes great.

8 cups broth (beef, chicken, pork, or a combination)

2 (3 inch) whole cinnamon sticks

2 whole star anise

3 whole cloves

2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds

2 large onions

4 inch piece fresh ginger

thinly sliced cooked (leftover) meat

cooked (leftover) starch item (ie: rice, quinoa, buckwheat, rice noodles)

chopped green onions

chopped fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, basil, purple basil)

chopped fresh sugar snap peas

lime juice (optional)

sriracha sauce (optional)

fish sauce (optional)

Combine the broth, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves and coriander seeds in a pot, and heat until it comes to a boil and then reduce heat so that the broth is simmering.

Peel the onions and ginger. Cut the onions into quarters and slice the ginger into quarters. Broil the onions and ginger in the oven, turning once or twice, until they smell good and show a few charred spots. Rinse the pieces under cool water to remove any loose or overly charred bits. Add the onions and the ginger to the broth.

Continue simmering the broth until it is reduced by about half. Strain the broth to remove the spices, onion and ginger.

Return the broth to the pot and add the meat and the starch item. Bring the broth to a boil and serve.

Dish the soup into bowls and then individuals can add green onions, fresh herbs, fresh peas, and their choice of additional seasonings. Personally, I think a very generous serving of green items in the soup is the best way to enjoy this soup.

If you would be willing to share some of your recipes and menu suggestions for future blog posts, please let me know!

And here is my saag paneer recipe:

1 full share Swiss chard, perpetual spinach, and beet greens, finely chopped

1 Tbsp sunflower oil

1/2 pound paneer, cubed

2 Tbsp sunflower oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 onion, finely chopped

1/2 tsp dried ginger (fresh would be better but we didn’t have any)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tomato, diced

2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

salt to taste

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet. Add the paneer cubes and fry until brown and crispy. Remove from the pan. Add 2 Tbsp oil and cumin seeds. When they begin to pop, add the onion, ginger, garlic, tomato, garam masala, turmeric, and greens. When the greens are wilted, stir in the whipping cream and paneer. Cook until heated through. Mmm!

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