Wednesday, August 28, 2019

August 29, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Sweet Peppers!

Cooking With This Week's Box

Poblano Peppers: Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblanos and Caramelized OnionsCheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn

Sweet Peppers: Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad (see below); Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn

Mini Sweet Peppers: Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad (see below); Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Mini Sweet Peppers

Green Beans: Summer Minestrone Soup

Yellow or Red Grape Tomatoes: Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad (see below); Sweet Corn Risotto

Red Seedless Watermelon: Chill & Eat!  No recipe needed!

Tomatillos: Raw Tomatillo Salad

Jalapeno Pepper: Jalapeno Cream Cheese

Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn
This week the box is filled with a lot of sweetness, starting with our featured vegetable, Sweet Peppers!  There are a lot of peppers in this week’s box.  If they are red, yellow or orange, they are sweet.  If they are dark green, those are poblano peppers which have a mild to medium heat.  Poblano peppers were our featured vegetable last week.  If you didn’t have a chance to try our featured recipes last week, I’d encourage you to consider both Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblanos and Caramelized Onions and Cheeseburger Pie with Roasted Poblanos and Corn.  Both recipes call for about 2 medium poblano peppers and they are both recipes that appeal to a wide range of eaters.  But lets get back to the sweet peppers.  Ever since I picked up Yasmin Khan’s book Zaitoun, I’ve had my eye on this recipe for Red Pepper, Lentil & Tomato Salad (see below).  Now that the sweet peppers are ripening, it’s time to actually make this!  This salad is substantial enough to serve as a main dish, or you can eat it as a side.  It’s packed with the flavors of summer, leftovers are good for a few days, and it’s pretty easy to make.  You can make this salad with any of the sweet pepper varieties in the box, including mini sweet peppers.

Before we leave peppers and move on to the other box items, I want to mention that it’s time to make a batch of Jalapeno Cream Cheese.  This recipe calls for several jalapenos, but for most individuals, one jalapeno is likely enough.  This is one of my favorite summer cream cheese spreads for bagels and toast.

Tomato, Zucchini & Corn Pie with Almond Crust
photo from
One of our other “sweet” vegetables in this week’s box is sweet corn!  Earlier this week, Andrea Bemis posted this recipe for Tomato, Zucchini & Corn Pie with Almond Crust on her blog.  This recipe is another one that screams to be made in the summer and it includes fresh tomatoes, zucchini and sweet corn.  I’m also excited to try Andrea’s Almond Crust as a gluten-free alternative.  I’ve also been remembering how delicious fresh sweet corn is in Sweet Corn Risotto with a little fresh tomato salad on top, so that is on the list for this week as well.

While our melon and watermelon season are short and a little late this year, at least they made it before Labor Day!  These two selections need little to no explanation as to what to do with them.  They are sweet and delicious on their own, so cut a melon in half, grab a spoon and just eat them.  Yes, scoop them right out of the rind.  If you do want to do something a little extra special, make these tasty little Melon Prosciutto Skewers.  They’ll be a simple, yet impressive addition to a Labor Day picnic.

We’ve been enjoying a plentiful harvest of tomatillos this year and while salsa verde is a great way to use them, you can also use them in other ways such as this Raw Tomatillo Salad.  This recipe combines tangy raw tomatillos with smoky chipotle chiles, fresh cojita cheese and suggests scooping it up with tortilla chips. 

The Best Pan Roasted Potatoes
photo by Rocky Luten, from
Last weekend we finished harvesting all of our potatoes!  In the coming weeks we’ll be delivering a variety of different kinds.  This week we’re featuring our Rose Finn Apple Fingerling potatoes, an heirloom selection known for being a tasty potato.  Whenever I think of fingerling potatoes, I think crispy!  Last week this recipe for The Best Pan Roasted Potatoes was featured on and I immediately thought of making this recipe with the fingerling potatoes.  In this recipe, the salt actually goes on the bottom of the pan, so I’d recommend cutting the fingerling potatoes in half and putting them in the pan cut side down.  The cut side of the potato will be crispy, salty and delicious.  Serve these for breakfast along with eggs, for dinner along with a grilled steak, or just make the potatoes and serve them with fresh corn on the cob, boiled edamame, tomato slices, and wedges of fresh melon.  That my friends is the beauty of delicious, simple summer vegetable cooking.

If you don’t use the potatoes as mentioned above, and you haven’t eaten all of your mini-sweets by the time you get to this point in the article, I’ll mention another one of my favorite recipes using both potatoes and mini sweet peppers.  This is a simple recipe for Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken with Potatoes & Mini Sweet Peppers.  I like to make this with fresh potatoes and peppers, but you could also make this in the dead of winter with mini sweet peppers that you pull out of the freezer (hint, hint—freeze some mini sweet peppers!).

Fried Rice with Edamame and Corn
Before edamame season is through, I always have to make Fried Rice with Edamame and Corn.  While I vary the vegetables in fried rice throughout the year, one of my favorite combos is edamame and fresh sweet corn.  This is another recipe that can be made in the winter with vegetables you pull from the freezer, so if you have some extra corn, cook it, cut it off the cob and freeze it along with some edamame.  You’ll be glad you did when you pull it out in the winter to make this recipe.

As we close out this week’s Cooking With the Box conversation, we’ll end with this recipe for
Summer Minestrone Soup.  This is a great soup to make as we move out of summer and slide into fall.  Use this week’s green beans, zucchini and other summer vegetables in this classic Italian soup.

We’ve reached the bottom of another delicious box of vegetables.  Next week the box contents will likely shift a bit. We’ll still have plenty of peppers, hopefully some zucchini and tomatoes, but we’re also planning to start pulling leeks along with green top celeriac and our final crop of green top beets.  Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Sweet Peppers

By Andrea Yoder

Mini Sweet Peppers
The peak of pepper season typically marks the point in the year where late summer collides with fall.  At the end of this week we’ll be turning another calendar page, Labor Day will come and go, children will return to school and soon we’ll officially say good bye to summer.  Peppers are one of my favorite vegetables to grow and eat and they so gracefully represent this unique point in our growing season.  They play well with summer vegetables, but can also dance with fall and winter selections.  They are easy to eat, right off the stem in all of their crispy, raw glory.  Roast them and they become soft, sweet and smoky in flavor which can add a sweet richness to sauces, soup, sandwiches and more.  While pepper season usually lasts several weeks, I never get tired of peppers and always make sure I have enough frozen peppers in the freezer to span winter, spring and early summer until the next crop comes in.  I use them throughout the winter on pizza, add them to pasta dishes, mix them with root vegetables and roast them with chicken, add them into winter soups and stews, and of course they end up in scrambled eggs, quiche, frittatas and egg bakes.  Peppers are one of the easiest vegetables to preserve, so even if I don’t feel like I have the time to tackle preservation projects, I know I can always successfully freeze peppers.  Peppers do not need to be cooked before freezing.  So, at a minimum, freezing peppers requires the time it takes to wash the pepper and put it in a bag.  If I have a little extra time, and to save some freezer space, I’ll actually remove the stem and seeds and cut them into smaller pieces.  Really, it’s that simple and you’ll really appreciate having them in the dead of winter!

We grow several different types of sweet peppers.  All peppers start out as green peppers when they are immature.  While we eat green peppers, peppers are really fully ripe and at their peak of sweetness and flavor if we let them turn color to be fully red, yellow or orange.  Our mini sweet peppers are our all-time favorite variety and the sweetest and most flavorful pepper we grow.  While there are many snack peppers available in the marketplace today, we believe our peppers are more flavorful than commercial seed varieties.  We’ve been saving our own seed for well over 15 years and our variety is not just carefully selected, but also well adapted to our area.

Orange Italian Frying Pepper
We also really enjoy growing and eating Italian frying peppers.  Italian frying peppers are long, slender peppers that, despite their name, may be eaten either raw or cooked.  We have both red and orange varieties and both have pretty good pepper flavor and sweetness.  One of our other unique sweet pepper varieties is the Ukraine pepper.  This is another pepper that we save our own seed.  It’s actually not available commercially and we got the seed from a woman who brought it from Ukraine.  We like this pepper because it’s a heavy producer, often with as many as twelve peppers per plant. This pepper resembles a bell pepper, but they are smaller and have a pointy bottom instead of a blocky bottom.  They also ripen to more of an orange red color instead of bright red.  They have a thick wall which makes them a good candidate for roasting.  They’re also a good pepper to use for stuffed peppers.

Roasting Sweet Peppers on Stovetop
While sweet peppers are delicious eaten raw, they can also be sautéed and roasted.  You can roast peppers, whole, over an open flame such as on a grill or just on your stovetop if you have gas burners.  Otherwise, peppers may be roasted under a broiler in the oven.  When roasting peppers, you want to blacken nearly the entire exterior of the pepper.  Once blackened, put them in a bowl and cover them so they steam for about 10 minutes.  Remove the cover and once they are cool enough to handle you can peel away the black skin.  Once you have roasted the pepper, it’s ready to use however you’d like.  Slices of roasted red pepper are a nice addition to sandwiches, grain or lentil salads, or use them to build an antipasto platter.  You can also use roasted sweet peppers to make a delicious cream sauce, dressing or soup.

Peppers are high in vitamins A & C as well as a whole host of other phytonutrients, so munching on a sweet pepper also has nutritive benefits.  I mentioned above how easy it is to preserve sweet peppers so you can enjoy them throughout the year.  Watch your email for our produce plus offerings coming as early as next week.  You’ll have the opportunity to purchase larger quantities of peppers if you’d like to preserve more than you receive in your box each week.  Enjoy!

Red Pepper, Lentil and Tomato Salad

Yield:  4-6 servings as a side dish or 2-3 servings as a main course

1 cup brown or green lentils
5 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ small red onion, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon, or to taste (approximately 2 Tbsp)
 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet peppers, ¼ inch pieces 
1 cup quartered small tomatoes (red or yellow grape, etc)
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 ½ Tbsp basil leaves, roughly torn, plus more to serve
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 ½ oz feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
  1. Cook the lentils in a saucepan of simmering water until they are soft but still have some bite.  Depending on the freshness of the lentils, this will take 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the vinegar into a small bowl and add the red onion.  Stir well, then leave the onion to soak (this removes some of its pungency).
  3. Once the lentils are cooked, drain them, rinse with warm water and place in a serving bowl.  Immediately squeeze the lemon juice and 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil over the lentils and stir well.  Leave to cool completely.
  4. Stir in the red onion (drain and reserve the vinegar for the dressing), sweet pepper, tomatoes, lemon zest, garlic and basil.
  5. Dress the salad by combining 2 Tbsp of the reserved vinegar, the remaining 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.  Pour over the lentils, mix well, then taste and adjust the seasoning.  You may want to add a bit more of the vinegar, lemon juice or salt to balance out the flavors.
  6. Just before serving, strew with a few more basil leaves and the feta, if you are using it.
Recipe borrowed from Yasmin Khan’s beautiful book, Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen.

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