Patti Bess: September harvest
Juice squirting ears of sweet corn, flavor oozing tomatoes, green beans that snap with the slightest bend! The abundance of fresh vegetables in September is glorious, but it can also be overwhelming. It’s always a challenge to find new and interesting ways of preparing them.
Summer is actually one of my favorite times to cook. The abundance is like being a painter with a rich palette of colors. Many evenings when I have lingered too long outdoors, I resort to my favorite quickie dinner — Pasta very Primavera. In a large skillet, I stir-fry combinations of what’s on hand: onion, garlic, zucchini and other summer squash, Japanese eggplant, sweet peppers, basil, oregano, maybe chard and tomatoes. Served over pasta and garnished with a little fresh Parmesan.
When the children were younger and balked at eating all those vegetables, I made something we called “Special Spaghetti.” It consisted of a fairly large portion of the vegetables put into the blender with a little extra tomato sauce. Then served over noodles. I didn’t actually mention the ingredients however.
Whether you have your own garden or brought home treasures from the Farmers Markets or local supermarkets, here are a few favorite recipes from several local farmers to add to your repertoire.
This tapenade salsa from Michael and Monica Keller of Calolea Olive Oil is a perfect complement to top a grilled steak, baked fish or chicken. For twenty years the Keller’s small family farm has been producing top quality oils from heirloom trees in the Northern Sierra Nevada Foothills, and they continue to rack up international awards. Their oils are available at all the local farmers markets, SPD, and Briarpatch Co-op or contact them at www.calolea.com.
Calolea Fruit Salsa
One cup cubed peaches
One cup cubed mangos
One cup cubed papaya
One cup cubed pineapple
Two cups cubed avocado
One half bunch of finely chopped arugula or cilantro
One third cup Calolea extra virgin olive oil
The juice of 3 limes
Salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to a bowl and set aside. Serve at room temperature. This recipe would also be easy to cut in half for a smaller group.
George and Nancy Crews have been farming at Broadfork Farm for more than ten years. They are located just off of Highway 174 on North Meadow View Drive (second house in). Their easy to use farm stand is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. This is one of Nancy’s favorite ways to cook up all those end of season tomatoes.
Green Tomato Soup
Two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Two ounces thin sliced scallions (about one bunch)
Two cloves garlic, minced
One Bay leaf
Two pounds green, unripe tomatoes
One cup low sodium chicken broth
Two cups water
One half teaspoon salt
One quarter teaspoon black pepper
Garnish with sour cream
Heat oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Cook ham, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, one to two minutes. Add the scallions, garlic and bay leaf, stirring until scallions are tender and lightly browned, about four to six minutes.
Add tomatoes, broth, water, salt and pepper. Simmer partially covered, until tomatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minute. Discard bay leaf and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Rich and Mila Johansen grow winter squash and medicinal herbs on their farm in Penn Valley. Their orchards in Orland have been in the family for three generations. They produce Satsuma and clementine mandarins, naval and blood oranges, persimmons, Meyer lemons and other fruits.
Mila offers this fall recipe, “Pumpkin” Pie”, made for 30 years using Butternut squash which is creamier and has more meat in it. You could also use soy milk instead of regular, if preferred.
Butternut Squash/Pumpkin Pie
One and half cups cooked butternut squash
Three or four eggs
One and half cups milk
One cup honey (or to taste)
One teaspoon sea salt
Two generous tablespoons cinnamon
One third teaspoon cloves
Three quarters teaspoon ginger or nutmeg First prepare the butternut for use by baking until soft, one hour or a little longer for large one. You could also cut it into eight pieces and steaming until soft. It is not necessary to peel the squash before preparing, just scoop out the “meat” after it has cooked and cooled.
Place all ingredients into a blender. (Four eggs does make a more custardy texture.) The more you blend the fluffier the pie. Pour into a pie crust you have made or purchased.
Bake at 350 degrees about 50 to 60 minutes until firm. One large butternut squash will make up to four to six pies.
Patti Bess is a local freelance writer and cookbook author. She lives in Grass Valley.
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