Wednesday, August 23, 2017

August 24, 2017: This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Tomatillos

Cooking With This Week's Box

This week’s box is packed full, so lets dive in and start cooking.  As usual, we’ll start with this week’s featured vegetable, tomatillos.  If you’re feeling like making a traditional tomatillo salsa this week, go right ahead.  The purple tomatillos in particular make a gorgeous salsa, raw or cooked.  If you’re looking for something a little different, try the Roasted Tomatillos & Chickpea Curry recipe in this week’s newsletter (see below).  This is a very easy dish to make, leftovers are even better than the first day, and it’s an easily adaptable recipe.  You can keep it simple with just the chickpeas, or add some thinly sliced chicken breast to the mix.  Serve this dish with slices of fresh, salted cucumbers and diced tomatoes. 

This week I came across this recipe for One Pot Pasta for Late Summer  This recipe really does use one pot and celebrates the simplicity of summer cooking, which somehow always comes around to a dish containing pasta and fresh tomatoes!  This recipe includes several items in your box including the pint of small tomatoes, some of your zucchini, and an onion.  You’ll also need to snip a few herbs from your herb garden to round out this dish which will stand on its own, or serve it alongside a piece of sautéed fish or chicken. 

While we’re talking about noodles, I should mention that this week’s yukina savoy can stand in for bok choi in most recipes, including Melissa Clark’s recipe for Spicy Ginger Pork Noodles with Bok Choi which we featured in our June 2016 newsletter.  Use the entire bunch of yukina savoy in place of the bok choi in this recipe.  This is one of my favorite recipes for several reasons including 1) it’s very easy to make 2) leftovers are equally delicious 3) it’s always a  crowd pleaser—who can go wrong with noodles?!

I keep thinking we’re at the end of green bean season, and then Richard finds more green beans!  That’s ok though, they’ve been really good and, sadly, this really is the last week for them.  I’m going to try this recipe for Ginger & Garlic Green Beans.   This recipe is written for a 2 pound quantity of green beans.  Unless you have more  beans lingering from last week’s box or have some from your own garden to supplement this week’s half pound bag, you’ll need to either cut this recipe down or substitute some other vegetables in place of some of the beans.  I’m going to use this week’s broccoli (stems and florets) along with the green beans and smother them both in garlic and ginger.  This dish will go great alongside this recipe for Chicken Teriyaki featured at NYTimes Cooking. Serve the chicken over steamed rice, and make sure you make enough so you have plenty of leftover rice to make Fried Rice with Edamame later in the week.  There’s a simple recipe featured in our August 2015 newsletter.  This recipe calls for a half pound of edamame and some corn.  Since we don’t have corn this week, just double the amount of edamame in this recipe.  You have about one pound of edamame in your box, so this will work out perfectly.  You can use ground pork, as the recipe calls for, or you can leave the pork out and have a vegetarian version.     I love fresh edamame in fried rice and I love how fast it is to make fried rice!  You’ll have dinner on the table in no time!

This week’s Italian frying peppers are going to find their home on an Italian Sausage Sandwich with Spicy Grilled Peppers and Fennel-Onion Mustard.  As long as you have the grill fired up to make the parts and pieces of this sandwich, you might as well enjoy this meal out on the patio taking in some summer night air. This is a substantial sandwich, so you won’t need to serve anything more than some fresh tomato slices to go along with it.  Finish off this meal with the French Orange Melon or some chunks of watermelon for dessert!  Not sure how to cut up a watermelon?  Check out this video at  The author, Ali, shows you how to cut a watermelon in several different ways! 

What shall we do with this week’s cucumbers?  Perhaps we should make Cucumber Mojitos!  Summer won’t last forever, so make a drink to enjoy as you grill out on the patio.   You can make it with or without rum, your choice.

Well, we’ve almost finished eating through this week’s box.  The final little bit of zucchini, onions, garlic and the green bell pepper will go into a saute pan and be used in a morning scramble that will become a Breakfast Burrito when wrapped up in a tortilla along with some fresh tomato salsa. I don’t have a recipe for this, so feel free to wing it and customize your scramble to match whatever little bits and pieces of vegetables and other ingredients you have lingering in your refrigerator. 

This brings us to the end of another week’s CSA box.  If you are wondering where the sweet corn is this week, please take a minute to read Farmer Richard’s newsletter article which will answer your question.  I’ll see you back here next week for more summer recipe ideas.  Next week’s box should have some colored sweet peppers in it as well as some poblano peppers, which is one of my favorite peppers.  Thankfully I have a whole week to figure out how I’ll incorporate them into next week’s meals.  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature:  Tomatillos

Tomatillos are an interesting “vegetable,” which are technically a fruit.  Despite the fact that they are often referred to as a “green tomato,” they are a bit different.  Tomatillos grow on plants that are similar to a tomato plant, but they are usually larger and have more of a wild, jungle-like appearance.  Their main stem is thick and sometimes resembles a small tree trunk! The plants can grow to be over seven feet tall, so we put stakes in between and tie the plants to them progressively as they grow in order to keep the plant upright and the fruit off the ground.  Tomatillos grow from pretty little yellow blossoms which are a favorite food source for bumble bees and other pollinator creatures.  The fruit is hidden inside a husk that looks like a little paper lantern.  You know the tomatillo is ready to pick when it fills the husk completely.  While most tomatillos are green, this year we’re growing a heirloom purple variety that, when fully ripe, is dark purple on the outside and light purple inside!

Tomatillos may be eaten raw or cooked and have a mild, tangy flavor that is slightly fruity.   Purple tomatillos are more fruity and sweet than green tomatillos.  When raw, tomatillos are firm with a dense flesh.  Once cooked, tomatillos soften and break apart becoming more like sauce.  They have a lot of natural pectin which is a natural thickener.  The outer husk is not edible, so this needs to be removed before you use them.  The fruit inside might feel a little sticky, which is normal.  Just give them a quick rinse and you’re ready to go. 

One of the most familiar ways to use tomatillos is in making salsa!  Tomatillo salsa may be prepared with all raw vegetables which will give you a fresh, chunky salsa.  The alternative is to cook the tomatillos on the stovetop with a little water before blending the softened, cooked tomatillos with the other salsa ingredients.  If you cook the tomatillos first, you’ll get a more smooth salsa.   Roasting tomatillos along with the other salsa ingredients such as onions, garlic, peppers and even limes cut in half will further develop the flavors of these ingredients giving you yet another version of tomatillo salsa.  You can roast the vegetables over an open flame on a grill or gas burner on your stove or put them in the oven under the broiler so you get that nice charred exterior.  Tomatillo salsa is delicious when simply served as a snack or appetizer along with tortilla chips, but it can also be used to top off tacos, quesadillas, make enchiladas, or served alongside your morning eggs or stirred into a bowl of black beans and/or rice.

Cooked purple tomatillo salsa (left) and
fresh purple tomatillo salsa (right)
Salsa is not the only thing you can do with a tomatillo.  There are many other interesting ways to take advantage of their unique tang and natural pectin.  The tanginess of tomatillos pairs very well with pork and can make a delicious Pork and Tomatillo Stew  which is thickened by the tomatillo.  They can also be used to make sauces for chicken and bean dishes, blend them into guacamole, or incorporate them into soups such as the Chilled Buttermilk and Tomatillo Soup we featured in a past newsletter.  They can make a delicious fresh vegetable salsa or salad when combined with fresh tomatoes, corn, edamame, onions, garlic, sweet and/or hot peppers and fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley or basil.  Purple tomatillos are one of just a few purple vegetables that actually retain their purple color when cooked.  In fact the color of a cooked purple tomatillo is a stunning bright purple that is just gorgeous!

Tomatillos are best stored at room temperature until you are ready to use them, however it’s best to use them within a week.  They are also very easy to preserve for use in the off-season.  One option is to make salsa now and either can or freeze it.  If you don’t have time to make salsa or just want to have tomatillos available in the off-season for other uses, you can freeze tomatillos whole and raw.  Simply remove the outer husk, wash and dry the fruit.  Put them in a freezer bag and pop them into the freezer.  They don’t retain their firm texture after freezing, so don’t be surprised if they are soft when you thaw them.  If you are using them to make a cooked salsa or some other cooked preparation, the texture issue isn’t an issue.  If you are interested in purchasing a larger quantity of tomatillos to preserve, watch your email for a special produce plus offer within the next few weeks.  Have fun and enjoy this unique selection!

Oven-Fried Tomatillos

Yield:  4 servings

Olive oil cooking spray
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and cut into ½-inch thick slices
¼ tsp salt 
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Creole or Cajun seasoning (or other spice blend to your liking)
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup mayonnaise

  1. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F.  
  2. Sprinkle tomatillo slices with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  3. Combine the flour, garlic powder and seasoning blend of your choosing in a shallow dish.  Crack the eggs into a separate dish and lightly beat the eggs.  Put the breadcrumbs in a third dish.  Dredge the tomatillos in the flour mixture, dip in the egg and then coat both sides with breadcrumbs.  Place the breaded tomatillo slices on a backing sheet with a rack.  Generously coat the slices with cooking spray.  
  4. Bake the tomatillos for about 8 minutes or until the top side is crispy.  Turn the slices over and spray the second side with cooking spray.  Return the tomatillos to the oven and bake an additional 6 minutes or until the second side is also crispy.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the ketchup and mayonnaise in a small bowl.  Serve the tomatillos warm with the dipping sauce.  The outside of the slices will be crispy and the inside will be warm and soft.
Recipe adapted from

Roasted Tomatillo and Chickpea Curry

Yield:  4 servings

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed
1 poblano pepper or jalapeño pepper
1-2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup cilantro (handful of fresh leaves & stems)
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 Tbsp fresh oregano
1 tsp salt

Chickpea Curry
⅓ cup coconut milk, plus more to taste
1—16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp curry powder
2 tsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste

  1. Roast the poblano or jalapeño pepper and tomatillos directly on an open flame either on your stovetop or on a grill.  If you don’t have a gas range, you can also roast the vegetables under the broiler until nicely charred and soft.  Once the pepper is cool enough to handle, scrape the skin off of the pepper and remove the seeds.  
  2. Put the tomatillos, poblano or jalapeno (you may want to start with just half of a jalapeno and add more later if you want more heat), and the remaining salsa ingredients in a food processor.  Process everything to a smooth sauce consistency.  Pour the salsa into a bowl and set aside.  You should have about one cup of roasted tomatillo salsa.
  3. Put ½ cup of chickpeas into the food processor and pulse it a few times to mash them.  Set aside.
  4. Heat a saute pan over medium heat.  Add 1-2 tsp olive oil, then add the curry powder and stir it into the oil.  Let it sizzle in the oil for about 30 seconds.  It should be very aromatic.  Add ½ of the tomatillo salsa and cook for about two minutes.
  5. Next, add the mashed chickpeas, the remaining whole chickpeas, the remainder of the salsa, and ⅓ cup coconut milk.  Mix well and bring the mixture to a gentle boil.  Reduce the heat and continue to simmer the curry until it thickens a bit (5-7 minutes).  If it gets too thick you can thin it with a little water.  Taste and adjust the sauce to your liking by adding more coconut milk, salt, pepper and/or a squeeze of lime juice.  
  6. Serve over rice or quinoa with lime wedges on the side.

Recipe adapted from

Chef Andrea’s serving suggestions and variations:  You can make this dish as spicy or as mild as you’d like.  Sliced, salted cucumbers are a nice accompaniment for the dish that helps cool off the curry.  While this dish is good made per the recipe, I think it would also be good served with fresh, diced tomatoes on top or with the addition of chicken.  

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