Typically we would pick up our weekly Community Support Agriculture (CSA) bag with the produce already picked and packed into our blue bags. But with the 4th of July landing in the middle of week, I was able to go to the farm and select the produce myself. As I walked in the door I am like a kid in a candy shop, all those beautiful colors, textures and future flavors awaiting to be discovered. “What do I pick first?” There was summer squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, cabbage, kohlrabi, cucumbers, watermelon, peaches and potatoes.
Of all the different items available I choose the one that most shy away from because for the home gardener it is a vegetable that grows prolifically and quite large. If you guessed the ZUCCHINI then you would be right. The ones at the farm are small and nearly seed free, excellent for the recipe that will accompany our main dish.
This well known type of summer squash, is highly versatile and has a delicious, mild flavor. When selecting zucchini, look for ones that are dark, firm and heavy for their size. Small ones will have a crisp texture and a sweet flavor; they become softer and more bitter as they grow bigger. Zucchini can be stored for up to 3 days wrapped in paper towels in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Zucchini are at their best when used during the summer months. They can be sauteed, baked, roasted or grilled to bring out their delicate texture, but can also be simmered into soups, steamed, or fried to bring our their sweetness. Zucchini can be sliced or grated raw, for use in salads or in baking cakes, cookies or quick breads. Because of the soft, delicate skin of the zucchini there is no need to peel. Just rinse the outside well, trim the ends, and then slice, chop, or shred.
PASTA SALAD with GRILLED SUMMER VEGETABLES
- 1 to 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 zucchini, cut diagonally (CSA bag)
- 2 yellow squash, cut diagonally (CSA bag)
- 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and halved
- 1 eggplant, quartered
- 1 red onion, sliced thick (CSA bag)
- 12 oz fusilli pasta, cooked, drained and cooled
- 2 cups baby spinach, torn
- 3 oz feta cheese
- 2 tomatoes, chopped (CSA bag)
- 2 Tbsp chopped basil
- 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- dash of paprika
Preheat grill to medium heat. Brush squash, peppers, egg plant and onion with olive oil and grill, flipping once, until just charred in parts and tender. Transfer to a plate as done and set aside to let cool. Cut into bite-size pieces. In large bowl, toss grilled vegetables with pasta, spinach, cheese, tomatoes, and basil. Mix together vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and paprika. Pour over pasta mixture. Refrigerate for a couple hours to allow the flavors to blend.
While I had the grill going I decided to try a new recipe for the corn on the cob that I picked up at the farm.
Choose ears with green husks and no signs of browning or drying. They should feel cool, never noticeably warm. The silk tassels should be pale yellow and moist. Select ears with plump, juicy kernels that are tightly packed in even rows. Store unshucked ears in plastic bags in the refrigerator for no more than 1 day.
BASIL BUTTER SWEET CORN GRILLED
- 12 ears of corn (CSA bag)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 Tbsp basil, minced
- 3 Tbsp parsley, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- kitchen string
Soak corn for 20 minutes. Mix together butter, basil, parsley and salt together. Peel back corn husks to within 1 inch of bottoms; remove silk. Spread butter mixture on the corn. Re-wrap corn in husks, secure with string. Grill, covered, 25 to 30 minutes. Enjoy!
Give these recipes a try, let us know what you think and check back next week when we pick up our next CSA bag.