Mid-Summer Extra-veg-anza!

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You may have noticed the CSA shares have been quite bountiful the last few weeks. Quite Bountiful. In addition to all those lovely vegetables, there have been blueberries and corn piled high in the refrigerator. I am wicked grateful for all the abundance in my life. I am also responsible for being, well, responsible with all that abundance. It would be a universal insult to allow any of those fruits and vegetables to go to waste.

This responsibility began to disturb my sleep, so into the kitchen I went, on a serious mission to deliciously dispatch as much seasonal produce as humanly possible. Two salads, two soups, salsa, a baked dessert and some freezer bags later, I think I’ve made a dent.

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One of my favorite vegetables to pickle is green beans, in a spicy, dilly brine. Unfortunately, a full canner batch of dilly beans doesn’t seem to interest anyone but me, and I can’t eat them fast enough by myself. Enter Dilly Bean Salad. I made a salad dressing with all the ingredients in the dilly bean brine plus some canola oil, dressed hot, blanched green beans with it, and put the whole shebang in the refrigerator to chill and marinate. The resulting salad was very much like my canned dilly beans, a bit milder in flavor, but close enough to make me happy. I’ll get the recipe up as soon as I’m sure of the measurements.

The next salad, from Ottolenghi’s Plenty, made use of cucumbers and red onion, in a garlic, ginger, sesame, and rice wine dressing. This recipe has distinctly Asian flavors, so The Husband enjoyed it as much as I did. It’s also very easy to get together while preparing other parts of the meal, as it has some wait time built in while it marinates.

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There it is next to the Dilly Bean Salad, alongside a pulled pork BBQ sandwich, and one of the soups – Julia’s New England Corn Chowder. I had forgotten how easy this corn chowder is. It’s so simple, yet so satisfying, with so few ingredients and steps. Although my chowder looks like it has ham in it, those are actually pink potatoes! I didn’t know they were pink on the inside when I bought them. They look like regular red potatoes on the outside, and their flavor is the same, too. I still have plenty of corn season left to make another batch or two of this lovely soup.

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The second soup started here, on this baking sheet, with magda squash (and one lonely pattypan) seasoned with zatar seasoning, liberally drizzled with oil, and roasted in the oven until soft and browned. I pureed the squash in the food processor, warmed it in some vegetable broth, and seasoned with salt, curry powder, and ground sumac. If you’ve never tried ground sumac, it is worth picking up a little jar. It’s tangy and tart, perfect for when I’m looking for some acidity in a dish, but don’t want to add lemon juice or vinegar. Zatar seasoning contains ground sumac, salt, sesame, and thyme, and both zatar and sumac are used as table spices in the Middle East. Since the magda squash is a Middle Eastern variety, I stuck with spices from the same region, and it all played together very nicely.

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The soup is finished with freshly minced cilantro and a dollop of greek yogurt to freshen it up and cut through its earthiness. Recipe forthcoming, again when I have duplicated it and written down proper amounts.

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This is the most wonderful season for salsa. The jewel tones of heirloom tomatoes, combined with the bright greens of jalapenos, cilantro, and scallions, make a gorgeous and kicky salsa that we just can’t get enough of. I will be making as many batches of this as we can eat, usually filling a quart jar and a generous bowl for chips in front of the TV. If it stays around long enough, we use it on tacos, burritos, eggs, and avocado toast. Almost anything that stands still, and is edible, is a target for this salsa.

You may remember the appearance of a most unusual fruit in the CSA share: husk tomatoes, or ground cherries, as they are also known. They are more like berries than tomatoes, so I paired them with the last of the blueberries to create a cobbler; Blueberry Ground Cherry Cobbler.

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Joy of Cooking has a basic formula for fruit cobbler, using their Buttermilk Drop Biscuit recipe for topping. This is as juicy, sweet, and succulent as it looks. It’s waiting for me to drizzle some heavy cream over it and eat it right up. Whipped cream is good too.

Last, but not least, is our stalwart companion, kale. It was really starting to pile up (it keeps so well in the crisper drawer I don’t have to use it up weekly like other, more delicate greens), so my best option was to blanch and freeze it. Done and done.

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It’s always great to have bags of frozen kale on standby in the winter months, full of vitamins, minerals, and hearty green flavor. It couldn’t be easier to tear open a bag, break up the frozen block of kale into a simmering soup, and warm it through. Although we are weary of it now, kale will be most welcome months from now.

I did make a dent, but it’s a small one. There’s squash, eggplant, peppers, more green beans, and more cucumbers. I am sleeping slightly better, but that won’t last for long, because I know the vegetables won’t last long either. They say there’s no rest for the wicked. I guess there’s no rest for the wicked grateful, either. Gotta keep rocking the veggies.

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