Monthly Archives: July 2012
Living out in the country has so many advantages. I have to say my favorite benefit to country life is my proximity to several local smaller farms, especially this time of year. I feel like a little kid at Christmas time every year when I head to the produce stand at my favorite local farm. A family owned farm for over 200 years, the farm has as rich a history as it’s offering of crops. From sweet corn and strawberries to fresh eggs and grass fed beef, if it’s to be had you can find it there. Over this past winter I was thrilled to see that they had expanded their produce stand to include a massive refrigerated storage container for the vast array of jams and jellies they offer. For a person like myself, who despises outdoor work and gardening it allows me to feel remarkably connected to the food I eat.
This year, they had a few new offerings that I have very thoroughly enjoyed. Canary Melon, Zephyr Squash, 8-Ball Zucchini, and German Striped Heirloom Tomatoes are going to be sorely missed come winter time. Canary Melon, so named for it’s bright yellow color is delicate and sweet, with texture much like that of a Honeydew, but with a crisper sweetness to it. Cubed and drizzled with honey (also purchased at the farm) and crumbles of feta cheese is my favorite way to enjoy it. The Zephyr Squash is nothing like the gourd I turned my nose up to as a child. It’s got firmer flesh than your standard yellow squash, and is a little tangier. Use it just like you would a regular squash, but I’ve really enjoyed just eating it raw with some cracked black pepper. The 8-Ball Zucchini is again prepared just like you would with a regular zuke, but this softball shaped squash packs a remarkably sweeter flavor and a buttery texture.
Of these sweet newcomers my favorite of all has to be the German Striped Heirloom Tomatoes. Beautifully colored with yellow stripes, this tomato puts even other heirloom varieties to bed, and forget those red things you buy in the supermarket! Sweet and rich, I could eat it like an apple if it weren’t so juicy. Perfect addition to a sandwich, or just sliced and sprinkled with a bit of sea salt this is one variety of tomato I will be on the lookout for for years to come, if only I could have them year-round! I’ve used them so far in the paella I made last night, in a tomato sauce for pasta, and in a salsa. I particularly enjoyed the salsa, the sweetness of the German Striped was a great contrast to the spice of the red capsicum, and made for one awesome salsa. If you can get your hands on tomatoes of this variety, do it. Unfortunately, the season is almost over so hop to!
What are your favorite produce stand finds?
Okay, paella. A delicious and hearty Spanish dish that is admittedly intimidating when you’re first reading a recipe for it. It calls for a few of those ingredients that I simply refuse to use like saffron. I’m not going to remortgage my house to buy spices, I just wont. I’ve also jumped back on the vegetarian band wagon again recently so the chorizo and chicken are out. Lastly, there’s the shrimp, clams and other shellfish that I’ve always refused to eat simply because they’re nasty. It’s been quite a while since I posted a recipe, or anything for that matter and tons has changed about me. One thing that stayed the same: My recipes are usually such far flung versions of what inspired them that it’s often hard to still call them that. So is this a real paella? No. Is it tasty and delicious using wholesome ingredients and local, in-season produce? You bet your sweet ascot it is.
Since it’s been a while since I’ve posted, I forgot the cardinal rule of food blogging: Photograph the food before you serve it to your ravenously hungry friends.
Serves 4 as a main dish, 6 as a side.
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Cooking Time: 90 minutes.
Assemble the following:
- 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1/3 Onion, cubed
- 1 1/2 C. Un-Soaked Brown Rice
- 1 Large Tomato, diced
- 1 C. Zephyr Squash, cut into match sticks
- 1 C. Zucchini, cut into match sticks
- 3 Spring Onion, finely chopped
- 5 C. Vegetable Broth
- 1 C. Spinach
- 1 C. Artichoke Hearts
- 2 C. Black Beans
- 1/4 C. Red Capsicum Pepper (more or less depending on taste)
- Lime Juice (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 tsp. Cumin
- 2 tsp. Sage
- 2 tsp. Thyme
- 2 tsp. Crushed Black Pepper
- 2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
- 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp. Turmeric
And do this with it:
- Bring the vegetable stock to a slow simmer in a separate pot.
- Heat a large skillet with a lid over medium.
- Sweat the onions until they’ve turned translucent, or about five minutes.
- Add garlic and saute for three minutes longer.
- Add the dry rice to the pan and toast for about seven minutes. (Normally, I would have reached for soaked brown rice, but the toasting step is important, and you can’t toast soaked rice because it’s been soaked.)
- Deglaze the pan with lime juice, being sure to scrape up all the delicious charred bits from the bottom.
- Ladle in a cups of the veggie broth and stir. Cover and reduce the heat to low, checking and stirring often.
- Preheat your oven to 425 F.
- When rice is nearly done (about forty minutes) add the beans, squash, zuchini, tomato, red pepper, spinach, and spring onion and saute for ten minutes longer.
- Transfer the mixture to an oven-safe dish, cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes.
- Garnish with a lime wedge and voila!