Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

CSA Tip #1—How to use up those carrots

Jill Ford, our valued Holcomb Farm Admisitrator, has shared a recipe for Morroccan Carrot Salad that she claims is a must try.  Click on the Link and scroll down until you find the recipe entry (Morroccan Carrot Salad)

CSA Tip #2—Try quick pickles

I published this information in the 2010 newsletter and thought I would reprint it here so it is on the current blogsite…..

Quick pickling methods are a great way to use the bounty of the harvest if you don’t quite have enough produce for large canning jobs or simply haven’t yet crossed over into that plane of food preservation. Basically it involves packing raw or sometimes blanched produce in jars and pouring a pickling brine (often boiling) over it. While the resultant pickles need to be refrigerated and have a shorter shelf–life (about 3 weeks) than properly canned pickles, they are an easy and quick way to make your own.

I found several sources that called for using either a pint jar (too small) or several quart jars (too much) so I decided to develop some recipes that will fill a single Mason wide-mouth quart jar. Feel free to double or triple the recipe if you would like; but remember, they have to be eaten up quickly or given away to lucky friends.

These recipes lend themselves to improvisation, but here are some general guidelines for quick pickling recipes:

  • The vinegar, sugar, and salt are essential but you can substitute up to half water for the vinegar and reduce the amount of sugar if you want it less sweet.
  • Most vinegars will do, as long as they contain at least a 5% acidity level.
  • Dill seed, bay leaf, peppercorns, celery seed, mustard seed, fennel seeds, coriander seed, cumin seed, and other dry spices all work well with this method. Fresh dill works great, but other fresh herbs can turn black after being exposed to the heat and vinegar (although the taste is unaffected).
  • Try quick pickling with cucumbers, carrots (blanched), summer squash, peppers, green beans (raw or blanched), fennel, beets (cooked), okra, Swiss chard stems etc…

Just remember not to keep those pickles longer than 3 weeks—since they are not heat processed they are more susceptible to bacterial growth.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles                              Makes 1 quart jar

INGREDIENTS:

– 3 pickling cucumbers, scrubbed

– 1 1/2 cups white vinegar

– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

– 3 cloves garlic, slivered
– 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon celery seed
– 1/4 cup minced fresh dil

METHOD:
Slice cucumbers into 1/4″ rounds or spears. Pack into a clean wide-mouth quart jar.

In a medium saucepan, heat vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic, mustard seed and celery seed until it boils. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Stir in minced dill.

Pour hot liquid over cucumbers. Let cool one hour. Place lid on jar and refrigerate at least 12 hours. Pickles will keep, refrigerated, for 3 weeks.

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Indian Spiced Summer Squash Pickles           makes 1 quart jar

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 medium zucchini
– 1 large summer squash
– 1 small onion
– 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
– 3/4 cup light brown sugar
– 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
– 3 cloves garlic, slivered
– 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
– 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
– 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
– 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

METHOD:
Cut zucchini and summer squash into 1/4″ rounds. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, very thinly slice the onion and break apart. Layer onion, zucchini and summer squash in a clean wide mouth quart jar up to the top of the jar.

In a medium saucepan, heat vinegar, brown sugar, salt, garlic and spices until it boils. Let boil one minute. Pour hot liquid over layered vegetables. Cool for one hour. Place lid on jar and refrigerate for at least 12 hours before serving. Pickles will keep, refrigerated, for about 3 weeks.

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The idea for these pickles came from a Bon Appetit recipe for Sriracha Fridge Pickles in June 2011 by Doug Flicker of Piccolo Restaurant (Sriracha Fridge Pickles).  It is a great way to use up those beautiful Swiss chard stems.  I changed it a bit to reflect ingredients I had on hand and to fit nicely into a quart jar.  Chef Flicker’s method is a bit different than mine…check them both out

Sweet & Spicy Chard Stem Pickles                         Makes 1 quart Jar

 

INGREDIENTS:

– 2 small onions (like Red Long of Tropea), peeled and thinly sliced

– 1 large bunch swiss chard stems, cleaned and cut into 2″ lengths

– 3/4 cup white vinegar

– 3/4 cup rice vinegar

– 1 cup sugar

– 1 1/2 teaspoons Vietnamese chili garlic sauce, (or more to taste)

– 3/4 teaspoon celery seeds

– 2 teaspoons kosher salt

METHOD:

1. In a quart mason jar, layer onion slices and chard stems, adjusting to fit (stems can stick out a little as they will shrink some after the boiling liquid gets poured over them).

2. In a medium saucepan, heat vinegars, sugar, chile garlic sauce, celery seeds and kosher salt until sugar is dissolved and mixture is just boiling.  Pour hot mixture over chard and onions.  Allow to cool uncovered at room temperature for at least an hour.  Cover and refrigerate for at least a day before serving.

Featured Item—Red Long of Tropea Onions

Did you know that along the coastal regions of Calabria in Italy grows a world- famous variety of onion called the Red Long of Tropea?  We are fortunate enough to get to try this variety of sweet red onion at the farm this week.  While their oblong shape might throw you a bit off (they look a lot like shallots), they are indeed a sweet red onion.  In fact, this variety is considered one of the sweetest red onion varieties in the world.

While the Tropea onion is a fairly thin skinned onion, it still needs it’s outer layer peeled before eating, much like other varieties of bulb onions.  The healthier green tops are also edible, and can be used much like scallion greens.

The Red Long of Tropea onion is prized both as a raw and as a cooking onion.  Obviously, cooking will enhance it’s sweetness and mellow it’s bite.  But as raw red onions go, these are delicious.  Try them thinly sliced in your favorite salads.  I highly recommend them in the first tomato or corn salads of summer, or in your favorite cucumber salad or pickle recipe.  These onions are also divine braised, roasted, caramelized, grilled, or sautéed.

Onions hail from the Allium family, which includes other invaluable treats such as garlic, shallots, leeks, scallions and chives.  The onion is the edible bulb of the plant that has been harvested and either cured or used fresh, like this week’s Tropea onion.

More than just flavor enhancers, onions have much to recommend them nutritionally.  They are low calorie, but contain good amounts of fiber, folate, B- vitamins, and vitamin C.  They are also high in antioxidants.  Because it is fresh and not cured, this onion will do best stored in your refrigerator where it will last a few weeks.

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Red Long of Tropea onions are wonderful grilled.  Our family loves this recipe for grilled skirt steak tacos.  The onions bring it to a new level.

Grilled Skirt Steak and Onion Tacos          Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

– 3 Red Long of Tropea or other sweet onion, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise

– 2 large skirt steaks, or three small

– 1 tablespoon chili powder

– 1/4 heaping teaspoon garlic powder

– 1/4 heaping teaspoon onion powder

– 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or more according to desired heat level

– 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

– 1/2 teaspoon paprika

– 2 teaspoons ground cumin

– 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

– 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

– 8 corn tortillas

METHOD:

1. Preheat grill.  Brush onions with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.

2. Mix chili powder through black pepper in a small bowl.  Rub generously onto both sides of skirt steaks.  Place skirt steaks and onions on grill set at medium – medium high.  Cover grill and cook for 3  1/2 minutes.  Turn steak and onions.  Cover and cook an additional 2 1/2 minutes for medium rare or 3 1/2 minutes for medium (this is a rough estimate.  Some grills are hotter than others).  Remove steak.

Continue to cook onions until caramelized and soft, but not burned.  Remove onions.

Quickly warm tortillas on grill (about 20 seconds per side) and place in foil to keep warm.

3. Allow meat to sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing.  Meanwhile, roughly chop onions and place in a small bowl.  Thinly slice meat and place on a platter.  Pour any collected juices back over meat.  Make individual tacos with slices of meat and some onion in warmed tortillas.

Note:  These tacos are great with other additional toppings such as shredded cabbage or lettuce, cheese, tomato, salsa/taco sauce.

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What a treat to have canteloupe this year at the farm!  If you can spare a little, try this tasty salsa, which also utilizes cucumbers, Red Long of Tropea onion, jalapeno, and herbs from the farm.  This recipe would also work well with peaches, mango, pineapple, or even watermelon.

Canteloupe, Cucumber, and Onion Salsa         makes about 2 cups

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 ¼ cup diced ripe but firm canteloupe

– 1/2 cup diced peeled and seeded cucumber

– 1/4 cup minced Red Long of Tropea onion, or other sweet onion

– 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

– 1/2 tablespoon honey

– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

– 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, Or 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

METHOD:

Mix all ingredients.  Allow to sit for 20 minutes to 1/2 hour.  Great served with grilled fish.

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Caramelized onions are great on grilled flatbread.  The following uses a mixture of three different kinds of onion, including the Red Long of Tropea.  The method looks complicated, but it is really quite easy once you do it once and get it down.

Grilled Mixed Onion Flatbread                      makes 2 flatbreads

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 bunch Red Long of Tropea onions, peeled and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

– 1 large yellow or white onion, cut in half and then thinly sliced

– 4 large scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced

– 3 large cloves garlic, slivered

– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

– 1 tablespoon white sugar

– 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling on flatbread

– 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

– 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

– 1 package prepared pizza dough, room temperature

METHOD:

1. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil until hot.  Add Long of Tropea and regular onion and stir until well coated with olive oil.  Cover pan and cook, stirring every couple of minutes, for 10-12 minutes, or until onions have given off their juices and are starting to stick to the pan.  Uncover pan.

Sprinkle onions with sugar and salt.  Cook, stirring frequently, for another 10-15 minutes or until onions are lightly caramelized.  Add garlic and scallions, and cook, stirring frequently, until scallions are soft, about 4 minutes.  Add minced rosemary and white balsamic vinegar.  Stir continuously with a wooden spoon, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom and sides of the pan.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until vinegar is evaporated.  Allow to cool.  (Can be made a day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use).

2. Preheat grill and set to medium-low.  Place 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl.  Divide dough into thirds.  Wrap one portion in plastic wrap and reserve for another use.  Using a combination of rolling and stretching, roll other two portions out on a lightly floured surface into a rough 6 – 7″ circle.  Gently transfer each circle to a baking sheet or pizza peel.  Brush the top of each flatbread with half of the olive oil.

Gently turn each flatbread onto the grill grate, oiled side down.  Prick flatbreads all over with a fork to prevent bubbles.  Brush top side with the rest of the olive oil.  Cover grill.  Grill undisturbed for 3 minutes, or until flatbreads are puffy and there are grill marks on the underside.  Using a large spatula, turn bread over.  Working quickly, sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.  Spread onion mixture evenly over both flatbreads.  Cover grill again and leave undisturbed for another 3-4 minutes, or until underside has grill marks, onion mixture is warmed through, and bread looks done.

Remove from grill to work surface.  Cut into serving pieces and serve hot.

 

3 thoughts on “Simply Fresh by Julie Wern”

  1. Easy pizza dough recipe
    This works great on the grill
    3 c flour
    1 pkg quick rise yeast
    2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp sugar
    1 c water (125 – 130 degrees)
    2 TBS extra virgin olive oil, plus 1/2 tsp to coat bowl

    In food processor, combine flour, yeast salt and sugar by pulsing for 10 seconds. With food processor running, slowly add water then olive oil. Process about a minute two to knead the dough. Dough should be smooth and elastic. If not, process a little longer, add another TBS water if dough is too dry or another TBS flour if dough seems too wet.
    Place dough in large bowl, turn to coat with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Either let rise for 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight, or up to 3 days (dough develops great flavor with a cold rise). Take dough out of fridge about an hour before using.

  2. I brush both sides of dough with a little olive oil before putting on the grill. I make grilled pizza at least twice a week during the summer. Great way to use the chard, peppers and basil. I’ve also used this recipe for making pizza in the oven on a pizza stone. Btw, I love reading your blog – great info about the farm’s produce and great recipes.

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