• Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

    Something New–Red Noodle Beans (sorry couldn’t get photo to upload–click here to view)

    I was out picking beans yesterday and came across this highly unusual variety.  They are dark purple, thin, and incredibly long (up to 18″).  As it turns out they are a relative of black eyed peas, but taste more like a green bean.  They can be steamed, sautéed, or used in stir fries.  They can even be grilled if you can figure out a way to keep them from falling through the grates.  See my recipe below for Simply Sautéed Red Noodle Beans.

    Featured Item—Cherry Tomatoes

    I think of cherry tomatoes as the crown jewels of summer.  They are amazingly colorful and so decadently sweet, juicy, and healthful.  Technically a fruit, tomatoes are one of the most widely grown and consumed product in the US.  Cherry tomatoes are miniature versions of large tomatoes and grow similarly.  They can be as small as a currant or as large as a golf ball and are generally round (typical cherry tomato) or elongated in shape (pear or grape tomatoes).  There are many varieties yielding several bright colors, from white, yellow, orange, bright red, pink, and purple-y black.

    In the Pick Your Own section of the farm we have the opportunity to sample several of these wonderful varieties of cherry tomatoes, including:

     Matt’s Wild—Don’t be fooled by the size of these beauties–these bright red tomatoes are fully mature, they are just tiny. However, don’t pass them by, they are total flavor bombs, chock full of sugars. They do have a tendency to crack and thus are best picked just before reaching their absolute peak. I do recommend that you don’t mix them in a bag or quart box with other variety of cherry tomatoes or else they will easily burst.

    Sun Peach—These tomatoes are slightly elongated, deep pink, sweet, and not as tangy or acidic as their sister variety (Sun Gold).  They are fairly resistant to cracking. It is tempting to think they are not ripe since they don’t get deep red, so remember, pink is ripe!

    Pink Cherry—This is another pink variety known for its great balance of sweet and acidic.

    Black Cherry—this hybrid variety yields a purplish-brown fruit with rich, complex yet sweet flavor.  Some say it tastes a bit “smoky”.  Wonderful on salads.

    Indigo Rose—Just when you thought you knew cherry tomatoes, this variety will throw you for a loop. When exposed to sunlight their skins turn a shiny dark purple but yet they are not yet ripe. It is not until they turn a dull purple brown that they have fully ripened. This is a unique fruit in that it contains anthocyanins in its skin—a potent anti-oxidant. So don’t pass by these healthy gems without trying some—your body will thank you!

    Sun Gold—Probably one of the most popular varieties of all time, this tangerine-orange, almost candy sweet tomato with bright acidity ripens early in the season (as we have been blessed to experience).  While known for it sweetness, it does have a tendency to split, especially after rainy weather.  Picking sun golds just before they are fully ripe or in cooler weather can help reduce the amount of splitting in your yield.  These are fantastic snacking tomatoes.

    Cherry tomatoes are as equally nutritious as larger tomatoes, containing high amounts of vitamins C, A, and K and containing significant amounts of protein, fiber, Vitamins B6 and E, and important minerals.  They are also high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant thought to help prevent many major illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

    Cherry tomatoes are divine eaten raw or cooked.  Raw, they are wonderful on tossed or composed green salad, or added to pasta, bean, grain, or corn salads.  Raw cherry tomatoes are also a great base for stuffed hors d’oeuvres (try stuffing them with feta chunks, guacamole, or tapenade).

    Cooked, cherry tomatoes really shine in pasta dishes.  They are also great in foil or parchment “hobo packs” with fish or shellfish, were they add tasty moisture without the need for a lot of calorie-laden fat.

    Pick plump, un-cracked cherry tomatoes that have uniformly ripened to their appropriate color (pale yellow, dark red, deep pink, dark red, or dark purple).  Store cherry tomatoes in pint boxes or colanders where they are exposed to air (so they don’t begin to spoil).  Do not refrigerate raw cherry tomatoes.  Wash just before eating or cooking.

    I recently saw a recipe for pickled cherry tomatoes in one of my cooking magazines but then proceeded to lose it, but it turns out there are lots of similar recipes on the internet. Check out this option for quick pickled cherry tomatoes click here. Apparently, these pickles also work well with traditional heat canning methods(click here)

    Here are some of the more interesting (if not crazy) ideas I have come across recently for cherry tomatoes—who knew they could be so versatile:

    • Cherry Tomato and Cherry Cobbler (click here)
    • Ricotta Crostini with Cherry Tomatoes (click here)
    • Cherry Tomato and Vanilla Bean Preserves (click here)
    • Cucumber Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes (click here)
    • Cherry Tomato Tart (click here)
    • Balsamic Roasted Tomato-Basil Ice Cream (click here)
    • Cherry Tomato Butter (click here)
    • Cheddar, Zucchini and Cherry Tomato Muffins (click here)
    • Eight Tomato Cocktail Recipes from America’s Best Bartenders (click here)
    • Arabic Tomato, Cucumber, and Pita Salad (click here)

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    Even the gluten fiends in my house loved this dish. Pass the tomatoes around the table separately from the chicken because once the buttery tomatoes hit the chicken they start to soften up the crispy breading.

    Gluten Free Chicken Parmesan with Buttered Cherry Tomatoes

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 2 large chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise then pounded thin

    – 3/4 cup almond flour

    – 1/4 cup brown rice flour

    – 2 large eggs

    – 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

    – 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil

    – 1 tablespoons unsalted butter

    – quart cherry tomatoes, rinsed and stemmed

    METHOD:

    1. Lightly beat eggs in a bowl or container large enough to contain the chicken pieces. Place almond flour, brown rice flour, and Parmesan in another container and mix well. Season flour mixture well with salt and pepper. Melt ghee or coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Dip chicken in egg and then allow excess to drip off before placing in flour mixture. Coat chicken well in flour and shake off excess. Place in hot pan. Repeat with remaining chicken cutlets. Cook chicken about 6-8 minutes per side or until brown, crispy and cooked through. Remove to a plate.
    2. Meanwhile, melt butter in another skillet over medium high heat. Add cherry tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until cherry tomatoes begin to burst open and release their juices, about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve cutlets with warm buttered cherry tomatoes.

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    When I am overwhelmed with bounty and low on time, I find that simple is the only way. Here are a few simple recipes using fairy tale eggplant, shishito peppers, and red noodle beans.

    Simply Grilled Fairy Tale Eggplant                                             Serves 4

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 8-10 fairy tale eggplants, stems intact, rinsed well

    – 1-2 tablespoon light olive oil

    – salt and pepper to taste

    METHOD:

    Preheat a grill (preferably charcoal) and set on medium to medium low heat. In a large bowl, toss eggplant with oil and season well with salt and pepper. Place the eggplant on a grill pan or directly on grill grate. Cover the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn eggplant and cook another 2-3 minutes. Continue cooking and turning until eggplant is very tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. Add additional salt and pepper if desired to taste. Serve immediately.

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    Simply Grilled Shishito Peppers                                     Serves 4 as an appetizer

    INGREDIENTS:

    – 1 quart Shishito peppers, rinsed well

    – 1 tablespoon light olive oil

    – salt and pepper to taste

    METHOD:

    Preheat grill (preferably charcoal). Set grill to medium or medium low heat. Spray grill pan with cooking spray and brush with oil. Place peppers on grill pan and cover grill. Cook peppers, turning every minute or two until peppers are soft and slightly charred. Serve immediately. For an interesting twist, toss cooked peppers with one teaspoon sesame oil and two teaspoons sesame seeds (or furikake). Serve hot.

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    Simply Sauteed Red Noodle Beans                       Serves 4

    INGREDIENTS:

    – large handful red noodle beans, rinsed well and trimmed
    – 2 cloves garlic, minced
    – 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
    – 1/8 – 1/4 cup water or broth
    – salt and pepper to taste

    METHOD:

    Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add beans and garlic and salute, stirring frequently, until garlic just begins to turn light brown. Add water and cook, stirring frequently, until water cooks off and beans are at desired level of tenderness. If the beans are still raw, add a bit more water. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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