Wednesday, July 22, 2020

July 23, 2020 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Tomatillos!

Cooking With This Week's Box

Green and/or Italian Zucchini: Zucchini-Corn FrittersPizza Bianca

Tomatillos: Mexican Eggs In Purgatory (see below); Pork & Tomatillo Stew (see below)

Small Tomatoes OR Black Eggplant OR Broccoli OR Cauliflower:   One Pot Vegetable Thai Red Curry

Spicy Pork & Tomatillo Stew on the cover of
Food & Wine Magazine, October 2007
This week we’re just starting to harvest some of the mid-summer vegetables including corn, tomatoes, eggplant and tomatillos!  Tomatillos are our featured item for the week and I have quite a few recipes to share with you!  One of the nice things about tomatillos is that they have a relatively long harvest window, especially because we do two plantings.  So this week’s portion is one to get you started, but we hope to include tomatillos in more boxes throughout the summer and early fall so keep these recipes handy and refer back to them in future weeks.  First of all, if you haven’t read this week’s vegetable feature article, please do so (see below).  In that article I mention 14 more recipes and include links to all of them.  In addition to these suggestions, we’re also featuring two tasty recipes.  The first is for Mexican Eggs In Purgatory (see below).  This is a twist on a traditional Southern Italian dish, Eggs in Purgatory, that has a tomato base and uses red pepper flakes to add heat.  This version uses tomatillos as the base for the sauce and the heat comes from either jalapeno or poblano peppers.  This dish is delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner!  The other recipe is one that is very familiar to me and I’ve been making for over ten years.  If you’ve read this article in past seasons you may remember me mentioning this Pork & Tomatillo Stew (see below), although I don’t think we’ve ever featured it in the newsletter!  This is a simple, yet tasty stew and the tomatillos add richness and thicken the broth.  I first made this for our crew when I was the summer farm chef back in 2007 and saw this recipe featured on the cover of Food & Wine magazine in October 2007.  I still have that issue of the magazine and am still making this stew!  In fact, every year I intentionally freeze some tomatillos so I can make this recipe during the winter months.

Zucchini-Corn Fritter, photo from
We just started harvesting our second crop of zucchini, so there are a couple pounds in this week’s box, and just in time to overlap with the first sweet corn of the season!  There will be more corn coming in the near future, but for this week these few ears will provide just enough corn to make these Zucchini-Corn Fritters!  The other recipe I’d like to mention utilizing zucchini this week is this simple recipe for Pizza Bianca.  This is more of a white pizza built off of slices of fresh fennel and thinly sliced zucchini.  This is the final week of fennel, so if you want to try something a bit more unusual, you could also use the fennel to make this Fennel Upside Down Cake!

Corn, Chard and Ricotta Galette, photo from
Lets go back to sweet corn for a moment.  I know everyone’s anxious for corn on the cob, dripping with butter.  Unless there are only two people in your household, this may not be the week for corn on the cob.  We’ll get there, but this first planting is just starting to mature so the harvest is a little light right now.  The fun thing about fresh sweet corn though is that a little bit added into a recipe can make everything so much tastier!  If you don’t go for the zucchini-corn fritters mentioned above, consider trying this Corn, Chard and Ricotta Galette.  If you receive the amaranth instead of chard this week, you could substitute the amaranth for chard in the galette recipe or you could make Amaranth and Corn Stewed in Coconut Milk.  This is a recipe from a past newsletter that also includes green beans.  Corn, amaranth and green beans are a tasty vegetable combo!

Green Bean Crisps
photo from
We’re happy to have another hearty harvest of beans for this week!  We’re just finishing harvesting our second planting and the third one already has little beans set on.  I’m not sure if they’ll be ready to pick next week, but we have our fingers crossed!  If you’re looking for something healthy to snack on this week, try these Green Bean Crisps!  The other recipe I want to mention with green beans in mind is this One Pot Vegetable Thai Red Curry.  This has become part of my frequently referenced summer recipes because it’s very versatile and you can use any summer vegetables you have available.  I often use potatoes, green beans and eggplant, but you could also include zucchini, sweet peppers and carrots.  As long as the volume of vegetables matches what the recipe calls for, you can use pretty much anything you have.

If you missed last week’s vegetable feature article about New Potatoes, go check it out and read more about why we think new potatoes are unique and different from any other potatoes we’ll deliver this year!  You’ll also find three tasty recipes that highlight new potatoes, or you might want to try my favorite way to eat new potatoes, New Potatoes with Garlic & Butter.

Easy Grilled Onions, photo from
We’re almost ready to start bringing in more onions.  The tops are starting to die down and we’re making space in the greenhouse so we can dry them.  We’re finished with scallions and moving on to our next fresh onion selections, the beautiful Desert Sunrise Purple Cipollini Onions and Sierra Blanca White Onions.  Both are more mild and sweet onion varieties and are good ones for grilling and roasting.  Check out this recipe for Easy Grilled Onions.

Did you know you can cook cucumbers?  If you want to give this a try, consider making Roasted Cucumbers with Onions and Fresh Herbs.  If you want to stick with eating cucumbers raw, then consider making this Spicy Cucumber Salsa.  This is a nice, fresh alternative to a traditional tomato salsa and is excellent on fish tacos, grilled fish or chicken, or just eat it with tortilla chips.  It’s also very pretty made with the purple cippollini onions!

Spicy Cucumber Salsa, photo from
That concludes this week’s box contents.  We’re hoping to dig the first of our green top carrots next week and we’re crossing our fingers that the next variety of sweet corn will be ready to pick!  We should also see more tomatoes ripening and hopefully we’ll see more eggplant sizing up.  Richard brought in the cutest little Lilac Bride Eggplant that was only about four inches long!  It obviously needs a little more time.  We’re also keeping our eye on the peppers and hoping we’ll be able to start harvesting green bell peppers within the next week or two.  Our second planting of cucumbers will be kicking in here pretty soon and lets not forget about melons!  The early Sun Jewel melons will likely be the first and unless they surprise us, we will likely start harvesting them in about 10-14 days.  Have fun cooking this week’s vegetables and I’ll see you back here next week!---Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Tomatillos

By Chef Andrea

The view looking down the row of our "Tomatillo Jungle!"
Tomatillos…what are they?!  Tomatillos are one of those confusing vegetables that are actually a fruit although most often used in more vegetable fashion.  Tomatillos are classified as a nightshade, which means they are a relative to tomatoes.  However, they are not just a green tomato.  They are a completely different fruit.  They are actually in the same family with ground cherries, both of which are characterized by their papery lantern-like husks that surround the fruit.  Tomatillos grow on plants that are similar to tomato plants, 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!  The plants can grow to over seven feet tall, so we put stakes in between the plants and tie them up progressively with string to keep the plants upright and the fruit off the ground.  You know a tomatillo is ready to pick when it fills its husk completely and may even start to split the bottom of the husk.  While most tomatillos are green, we also grow two varieties that turn purple when fully ripe!  These typically take longer to mature, so we won’t be harvesting these for awhile.  Hopefully we’ll be able to send these your way later in summer or early fall.

Green tomatillos (in the bowl) and
Purple tomatillos (on the board)
So what do you do with them?  Lets talk storage first.  In the home setting, I recommend you just store your tomatillos at room temperature, either in a paper bag or just on the counter.  They’ll store like this for a week or more!   Before you use them, you do need to peel away the papery husk and you’ll find the fruit inside may be a little sticky.  Once you remove the husk and stem, the remainder of the tomatillo is completely edible, no need for further peeling and don’t even try to remove the seeds.

Tomatillos have a tangy, fruity  flavor and you’ll find purple tomatillos to be more sweet than green ones typically.  Tomatillos may be eaten either raw or cooked.  One of the most familiar ways to use tomatillos is in making salsa, salsa verde that is! 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, you’ll get a more smooth, thick salsa due to the natural pectin in tomatillos.  Salsa verde is a good place to start if you’ve never worked with tomatillos before.  You can eat it with chips, use it to jazz up scrambled eggs, put it on tacos, or use it as a base ingredient in other preparations.  The natural pectin in tomatillos does lend itself favorably to being used as a thickener for enchilada sauce, soups, stews, chili etc.
Purple Tomatillo Salsa! 
Cooked (bowl on left) and Fresh (bowl on right)
Tomatillos are 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, soup, etc, the texture issue isn’t an issue.

Vegetable Enchilads with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce
Ok, so lets talk recipes!  My top two favorite things to make with tomatillos are Spicy Pork and Tomatillo Stew (see below) and Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce.  I’ve been making the Spicy Pork and Tomatillo Stew (see below) since 2007 and I know I must’ve mentioned it in past blog articles but it looks like I’ve never shared the recipe in a newsletter!  I first made this stew for our farm crew back in 2007.  In fact, it was on the cover of Food & Wine magazine in October 2007 and I still have that issue of the magazine hanging out in the magazine rack near the kitchen in the office!   The cover is faded and tattered, but it was a good issue and I still reference it periodically.  My notes for this recipe are in the margin indicating I multiplied the recipe times five to feed the crew!  This is a good stew to make in early fall when the weather starts to change and the chill sets in.  I also like to freeze tomatillos and pull them out in the middle of winter to make a pot of this stew.  My second favorite recipe for Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce was featured back in 2018.  This is a great recipe to make all summer and you can vary the vegetable ingredients depending on what you have available.  Ok, I lied.  I have a third favorite recipe. 
Roasted Tomatillo and Chickpea Curry
Back in 2017 I uncovered this recipe for Roasted Tomatillo and Chickpea Curry.  This is a bit of a non-traditional way to use tomatillos, which is exactly why I tried the recipe and it was delicious!

So, if you’re not sure where to start, I’d encourage you to consider a simple batch of salsa verde or reference the recipes in this week’s newsletter as well as the other two I mentioned that are on our website in our recipe archives.  Beyond these suggestions, I’ve compiled a list of 12 more recipes that are in my queue to make, hopefully this year!  If you try them first, be sure to post the results and your commentary on the recipe in our Facebook group…especially the Tomatillo Strawberry Pie!  Have fun and enjoy this unique vegetable/fruit selection!

Mexican Eggs in Purgatory
Yield:  4 portions (2 eggs each)

1 pound tomatillos, husked
1 poblano or jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded (if you wish)
1 ½ cups chopped cilantro leaves and stems, plus ¼-½ cup for serving
1 medium onion or 3 scallions, coarsely chopped, plus ½ cup for serving
¾ cup chicken broth
3 ounces thickly sliced bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (or as needed)
1 garlic clove, minced
8 large eggs
2 Tbsp grated Cojita or crumbled feta cheese, plus more for serving
2-3 ounces shredded Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Lime wedges, for serving
Corn Tortillas, for serving

1. Preheat the broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat source.  

2. In a blender, add the husked tomatillos, poblano or jalapeño pepper, chopped cilantro, onion, ½ tsp salt, freshly ground black pepper and chicken broth.  Puree until smooth.

3. In a large, shallow ovenproof skillet, cook the bacon over high heat until brown and slightly crispy.  If the bacon is lean, you may want to add the olive oil.  Once the bacon is cooked, add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, until fragrant.  Carefully add the tomatillo puree and cook over moderate heat until the sauce is thickened and dull green, about 10-12 minutes.

4. Using the back of a spoon, make 8 depressions in the tomatillo sauce.  Remove the pan from the heat and carefully crack the eggs into the depressions.  Sprinkle the eggs and tomatillo sauce with the 2 tablespoons of Cotija cheese and the shredded Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese.  Broil the dish until the egg whites are set but the egg yolks are still runny, about 3-4 minutes.  

5. Remove from the oven and garnish with more Cotija cheese, chopped onion and cilantro.  Serve right away with warm corn tortillas and lime wedges. 

Chef Notes:  

The tomatillo sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 2 days.  Bring the sauce to room temperature before adding the eggs. 

If you are serving less than four people, you can use a smaller ovenproof skillet and only half the sauce to cook four eggs instead of eight.  Reserve the second half of the sauce for a second meal. 

Variation:  If you want to add more vegetables to this dish, consider adding small diced potatoes and fresh corn kernels cut from 1-2 ears of corn.  Cook the potatoes and corn in the saute pan in a bit of oil before you cook the bacon.  Remove the potatoes and corn, cook the bacon and then add the vegetables back to the pan along with the tomatillo sauce.

This recipe was adapted slightly from Grace Parisi’s recipe featured at

photo from Food & Wine magazine, October 2007

Spicy Pork and Tomatillo Stew

Yield:  4 servings

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 ½ pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large celery ribs, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 Anaheim or poblano chile, seeded and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp mild chile powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
Pinch of dried oregano
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup  ½ –inch diced carrots
Two 6-ounce potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into 1-inch dice
Hot Sauce, for serving
Chopped Cilantro, for garnish
Corn Tortilla Chips, for serving

1. In a medium casserole or Dutch oven, heat the oil.  Season the pork with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until browned on 2 sides, about 2 minutes per side.  

2. Add the celery and onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes.  Add the diced chile, garlic, chile powder, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Add the carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and tomatillos, cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is cooked through and tender, about 30-40 minutes.

3. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce.  Ladle the stew into bowls, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with a few tortilla chips.  

Recipe adapted slightly from Food & Wine magazine, October 2007

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