Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Severe Weather Event….Again

By Richard DeWilde

Well here we go again!  Another severe weather event, the third in 3 years.  This is starting to look like an annual event!  What started in 2007, 12 inches in 24 hours, was called at the time a “100 year event.”  Meteorologists no longer refer to 50 or 100 year events, because they now appear to be annual events!

Jack weathering out the storms Tuesday night at Richard's
feet, all snug in a comforting denim shirt.
So what is it like for us to deal with such an event?!  On Monday night it started to rain with possible “heavy rain” in the forecast.  It rained and rained, our weather man referred to it as a “trailer,” new to me but meaning that the band of showers did not just pass through, but the tail end continued to build into heavy showers for 12 hours!  I dumped the rain gauge at 10 PM, emptying 4.5 inches.  I tried to sleep, but our sweet dog Jack kept waking us to adjust his blanket covering because he was terrified by the constant thunder and lightning.  So after a troubled sleep, we rose before dawn to assess the damage.  By morning the total rainfall had risen to 8 inches rain in less than 12 hours.

From past events, the obvious first thing to check is the animal fencing that crosses the creek.  Yep, they were washed out!  Angel and Juan Pablo were here at the first light of dawn to contain our animals.  As of Tuesday night the pigs are in the corral, their two creek fences still not complete.  The cows are all accounted for and contained, but much more fencing work is needed!

One of our field roads off of Wire Hollow Road , completely
washed out from the storm.
Now, on to harvest!  Our pre-dawn assessment found that no fields were accessible.  River and creek crossings, roads to bench fields and the dry washes were all plugged with rock and debris.  We canceled morning harvest, pulled every skilled operator and utilized every piece of equipment to spend the morning fixing roads and our yard to make them passable while the rest of the crew worked in the packing shed and greenhouses to pack things harvested the previous day and worked on trimming and cleaning onions and shallots for storage.

In the afternoon, we loaded up the harvest wagons to resume harvest. Unfortunately, the rain started just as the crews were heading to the field.  It was a wet, muddy afternoon, but we were able to pick peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and tomatillos in the on again/off again rain!  We had to fix some of the tomato trellises that had tipped over with the soggy soil.  Not the most fun day of harvest, but the product was fine and the crew got it done.

Large branches and other debris from the dry wash just down
the road from the field road pictured above.
A disappointing moment in the day was the field report from the corn harvest crew.  We’ve worked very hard to grow the very best crops of corn we have ever grown this year.  Sadly, they found the remaining corn was tipped over from wind and saturated soil that couldn’t support the stalks anymore.  The crop scheduled for picking this week as well as our next and final crop, flattened!  They were and will be able to pick some of it for this week and we’re crossing our fingers that the last crop might perk up with a few sunny days.  Also on that farm, they found all of our beautiful sunchoke stalks laying flat as well.  Argh!

Greens?  We delayed harvest until Wednesday morning because the leaves showed signs of being  water-soaked.  Based on our prior experience, the plant usually recovers from this, but needs some hours of dry weather preferably with sun before we resume harvest.

Vincente blading a washed out field road.
Everything we harvested is muddy and needs to be washed.  No worries, we know how to do that.  Tuesday evening still a steady rain, another “trailer!”  The old “normal” weather, gone, prepare for the worst!  As we finish up this article on Wednesday morning, we’re thankful for blue skies and sunshine.  The crews are back in the fields and we’re preparing to pack the CSA boxes for our Twin Cities members.  We’re making plans to continue the cleanup and will revisit the berms and ditches that failed or were damaged.  We’ll put things back together, build the berms higher and clean out the ditches.  We can’t quit--We have families to feed!

Our changing weather patterns are for real, and I don’t see this erratic weather going away anytime soon.  Should we transition to inside, greenhouse production?  Can we really curb the excess atmospheric carbon and stabilize our climate?  That would be preferable!  The technology is there for clean energy, clean cars, and carbon capture.  Much of the civilized world is already making huge improvements.  But will we?  Do we have the political will and leadership to do it?  I sure hope so.

August 30, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Purple Potatoes

Cooking With This Week's Box:

Zucchini or Yellow Summer Squash: Peppery Zucchini & Potato Packets on the Grill (see below); Vegetable Enchiladas with Creamy-Tomatillo Sauce; Zucchini, Bacon, Gruyere Quiche 
Zoey Yellow Onions: Peppery Zucchini & Potato Packets on the Grill (see below); Mango Edamame Quinoa Salad; Vegetable Enchiladas with Creamy-Tomatillo Sauce; Corn Stew with Chicken & Sausage

Jalapeno Peppers: Breakfast Potato Nachos (see below);  Roasted Salmon with Jalapeno;  Corn Stew with Chicken & Sausage

Red Seedless Watermelon: Honey Grilled Watermelon Caprese Salad

Large Tomatoes: Breakfast Potato Nachos (see below);  Honey Grilled Watermelon Caprese Salad;  Corn Stew with Chicken & Sausage


Purple Majesty Potatoes: Breakfast Potato Nachos (see below); Peppery Zucchini & Potato Packets on the Grill (see below)

When I was a kid, purple was one of my favorite colors.  At that time I had no idea that there were purple potatoes or purple carrots!  I do envy CSA kids who get to grow up eating all of these cool vegetables!  We’ll kick off this week’s cooking talk with a recipe for Breakfast Potato Nachos (see below).  The Purple Majesty potatoes are a good variety to use for this and make for a colorful presentation.  The potatoes are cut into thin slices and then baked as crisp as you like them, thus becoming the “chip” part of the nachos.  Top them with cheese and whatever other vegetables you like, such as black beans, tomatoes, onions, and avocado.  Put a fried egg on top and you have authorization to eat nachos for breakfast!  Our other recipe suggestion for this week’s Purple Majesty potatoes is a simple recipe for Peppery Zucchini & Potato Packets on the Grill (see below).  If you’re grilling out for Labor Day weekend, consider adding this to the menu.  If you have a camping trip planned for the holiday weekend, this is a fun thing to make over the campfire.  We used to make these at summer camp.  You can cook the packets on a grill set over the fire, or add an extra layer of foil and put the packet right into the hot coals.

Honey Grilled Watermelon Caprese
Photo from How Sweet Eats
While we’re on the topic of grilling, I want to share this recipe for Honey Grilled Watermelon Caprese Salad.  I found the link to this recipe on Ali’s blog, where she featured 15 recipes using watermelon.  I had never considered grilling watermelon, but this salad sounds delicious.  You could serve this as a side dish, or turn it into a light lunch or dinner by serving it with some slices of grilled bread and thinly shaved prosciutto.

Last week I came across this recipe for Mango Edamame Quinoa Salad.  This is an interesting, yet very simple, salad featuring fresh edamame, sweet peppers, & onions paired with fruit and quinoa to make a light summer salad.  The author also gives some suggestions for making some substitutions, so if you don’t have a mango, you could also use grapes or blueberries.  I think this salad will go nicely with Pan Roasted Salmon with Jalapeno for a light dinner option.  The heat and fattiness of the salmon dish will balance nicely with the simple, sweet salad.

If you didn’t have a chance to make the Vegetable Enchiladas with Creamy-Tomatillo Sauce from last week, I’d encourage you to give it a try this week and put this week’s tomatillos and a poblano to good use.  The filling for this enchilada includes corn, zucchini, peppers and onions.  Another suggestion for using the tomatillos and one of the poblano peppers is this recipe for Roasted Tomatillo & Chickpea Curry.  We featured this recipe in last year’s newsletter and it was a hit with many members!

Steak, Poblano and Mushroom Tacos
Photo from Gimme Some Oven
I don’t know what it is about poblano peppers, but I really like the flavor of this pepper.  So, I’m going back to Ali’s blog to make her suggestion for Taco Tuesday featuring this recipe for Steak, Poblano and Mushroom Tacos.  This recipe will make use of two poblano peppers along with onions and garlic.
Sweet corn season will be coming to an end soon, but before it does I want to try this recipe for Corn Stew with Chicken & Sausage.  This recipe will make good use of fresh sweet corn as well as the fresh tomatoes and a jalapeno from this week’s box.

We started the conversation with purple potatoes and we’ll end this week’s conversation with purple carrots!  I like mixing the purple and orange carrots and think they are beautiful in this Carrot Salad with Coriander Vinagrette & Pistachios.  This is a light, refreshing salad that will go nicely served with this Zucchini, Bacon, Gruyere Quiche.

That’s it for this week.  We’re starting to harvest winter squash this week and are hoping to send leeks your way very soon.  Enjoy these last days of summer!—Chef Andrea

Purple Potatoes

Potatoes are the fourth largest food crop in the world, following behind rice, wheat and corn. Potatoes originated in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia but have spread throughout the world and are grown and eaten all over the world.  While we’re accustomed to seeing just a few common varieties on grocery store shelves, the world of potatoes is actually very diverse with hundreds of different varieties that go beyond the common Yukon gold, red potatoes and Russet potatoes for baking.  Earlier this week we harvested these beautiful Purple Majesty potatoes which you’ll find have a deep bluish-purple skin and purple flesh.  This variety is classified as a waxy, high moisture potato, thus it is a good potato for roasting, pan-frying, and it will hold together well in soups and stews.

As a young dietetics student, I remember learning about different plant compounds (aka phytochemicals) that are nutrients with beneficial health properties for both the plant as well as the person who consumes the food.  The cool thing about these compounds is that many have color, thus you can easily look at many foods and have some indications as to what health benefits you’ll get from them.  Foods that are purple, blue and red in color are likely going to be high in anthocyanins, a water-soluble phytochemical that has these color pigments.  Anthocyanins are beneficial for cardiovascular health and contribute to lowering blood pressure.  They are also beneficial in cancer prevention.  While we now have many choices in potato varieties, choosing a purple potato from time to time can be a great addition to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables that supply our bodies with a variety of beneficial phytochemicals.  The cumulative effect of eating in this way and including a variety of different colors from day to day will benefit your overall health.

Unlike many purple vegetables, such as beans, that fade to green when cooked, purple potatoes generally will hold their color when cooked.  The color may change, depending on the cooking method as well as the other ingredients you’re preparing with them.  If you want to maximize the purple color, choose a dry heat cooking method such as roasting, baking or pan-frying.  These potatoes may also be used in soup, but be aware that they may fade to more of a blue-gray if cooked with more alkaline ingredients such as cream or milk. If you boil potatoes, it’s best to cook them whole with the skins on to best preserve the color.  Because this is a waxy potato, it is not the best choice for making mashed potatoes as they can get sticky if you mash them too much.  They will however make a pretty violet mash!

Earlier in the season we featured new potatoes.  We told you to handle them carefully as they had delicate skin.  This week’s potatoes are not new potatoes.  The vines of the plant were cut in advance of harvest, thus helping develop the skins so they are more durable and will protect the potato for longer storage.  If you need to store them for a bit, you should be fine doing so.  Just store them in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight and don’t put them in the refrigerator.

Breakfast Potato Nachos

Yield:  4 servings

Picture from the little epicurean
Chili Spiced Potatoes:
2 pounds potatoes, sliced into ⅛-inch or ¼-inch thick rounds
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp fine sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
⅛ tsp ground cayenne pepper

½ cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese
½ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
tomato salsa
sour cream
sliced green onions
chopped cilantro
sliced avocado
lime wedges
fried egg

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
  3. Coat potato slices with olive oil. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on two baking sheet trays, making sure the potatoes do not overlap. Sprinkle spice mixture over potatoes, flip potatoes and sprinkle spice mixture on the other side. Bake for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are tender. (Note: if you slice the potatoes ⅛-inch thickness, bake for 20-25 minutes until potatoes are crisp)
  4. Set oven to broiler setting.
  5. Layer about half of baked potatoes on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with half of black beans and half of shredded cheese. Top with remaining potatoes, black beans, and shredded cheese. Set under broiler for 20-30 seconds until cheese is melted.
  6. Garnish nachos with salsa, sour cream, sliced jalapeños, avocado slices, sliced green onions, and chopped cilantro. Before serving, top with fried egg. Enjoy immediately.

This recipe was borrowed from Maryanne Cabrera and was featured on

Peppery Potato and Zucchini Packets on the Grill

Yield:  4 servings

1 ½ pounds potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme, or ½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt

  1. Heat the grill.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Divide the mixture among 4 pieces of aluminum foil, placing the mixture near one end.  Fold in half to form a packet;  then fold the edges to seal completely.  Grill the packets 25 to 30 minutes, turning over once, until the potatoes are tender when pierced.
Recipe borrowed from The CSA Farm Cookbook, by Mi Ae Lipe.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

How Cover Crops Help Save the Planet

By Gwen Anderson

Like most kids, I learned about photosynthesis when I was in grade school.  I learned that plants ate sunshine, breathed in carbon dioxide, and exhaled oxygen.  I remember as a child thinking how great it was that I was exhaling what my new tree out back was inhaling, and in turn, it was exhaling what I needed as well.  I knew protecting the forests was good for the planet; we learned about it every Earth Day.  What I didn’t know is that we should also be protecting our farmlands.

As we are growing our crops, they are eating all of that sunshine, breathing in all of that carbon dioxide, taking nutrients out of the soil to grow.  Then we harvest those crops.  They stop breathing in that carbon dioxide.  Then what?  On the typical conventional farm, the lands sits empty, doing nothing.  Rain comes, washes away all of that expensive chemical fertilizer, the ground gets hard and cracked as it dries, and blows away in the wind.  Next year, they plant seeds, spray it with more chemicals because they all washed away the year before, harvest the crop once it grows, if it grows.  Rinse, repeat. 

Cover crop (millet, oats, rye grass, and 3 types of clover)
planted 2 and a half weeks ago in our fields.
That isn’t how we do things at Harmony Valley Farm.  Farmer Richard has been planting cover crops for over 40 years.  As soon as we are done harvesting, we either plant a new crop if the season is early yet, or we “put the field to bed” by planting cover crops.  Right now, we already have 30 acres of our farm planted with cover crops, and will continue planting it as the harvests keep coming in.  As it stands, about 70% of our ground will be cover cropped by fall, and we are increasing that number by seeding grass and clover into our late harvested crops like Brussels sprouts and fall broccoli.

Cover crop (winter rye, rye grass, and 3 types of clover) in
the same field as above, planted one week later.
What are cover crops?  They are crops that cover the ground!  We don’t sell them, they aren’t vegetables.  They are there to photosynthesize away while we wait for the planting season to start again.  Of course, there are plenty of other benefits as well, like holding nutrients in the ground and literally holding the ground in place, instead of letting it wash away in the rain and wind.  They help build up the organic matter in soil, which translates to healthier soil, which is able to better feed the crops we grow and filter the water as it drains, keeping the nutrients in our soil instead of our waterways.  Healthier soil also holds more water, so there is less run off in the first place, and more water for plants to utilize in times of drought.

One thing my childhood rendition of photosynthesis left out is what the plants do with that carbon dioxide they breathe in.  While they do use some of it to grow, because carbon is the building block of life, they also leak the extra carbon they don’t use to grow right down into the soil itself, which feeds micro-organisms that in turn produce food for the plant.  And why is this so important and groundbreaking?  Because right now, there is too much carbon in the air, which is the leading cause of climate change.  By allowing Mother Nature to take all of that carbon that we humans have been pulling out of the ground for centuries and putting it back into the ground, we can have a real impact on climate change.  Rumor is we could even reverse climate change it if we act quickly. According to an article posted in April, 2014 by the Rodale Institute: “If management of all current cropland shifted to reflect the regenerative model as practiced at the research sites included in [Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming], more than 40% of annual emissions could potentially be captured.  If, at the same time, all global pasture was managed to a regenerative model, an additional 71% could be sequestered.  Essentially, passing the 100% mark means a drawing down of excess greenhouse gases, resulting in the reversal of the greenhouse effect.”

Map of the world's farmland, indicating average size of farms, picture from
About one third of the Earth’s land is used for farming, and while the number of farmers using cover crops is at an all-time high right now, those numbers are still remarkably small.  According to the Des Moines Register in a study published in March 2017, only 2.6% of Iowa’s almost 23 million acres of farmland had cover crop on it in 2016, which was barely better than Illinois’ 2.3%.  Iowa has a goal of getting 12.6 million acres of farm land planted to cover crops, but at the current rate it will take about 3 decades to achieve.  According to Ben Dobson, who was hired on by Stone House Farms in Livingston, NY to convert the 2,200 acre farm from conventional to organic, in their first year alone they increased their soil carbon content by 0.7%.  That amounted to 15 tons of carbon dioxide being removed from the air per acre.  The average passenger vehicle emits 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide per year according to the EPA.  Stone House Farms managed to take the emissions of just over 3 cars back into their soil per acre per year.  Imagine how much carbon could be placed back into the ground if we could get the whole world on board with this!  If Iowa can reach their goal of 12.6 million acres, we are talking about 189 million tons of carbon dioxide (or just over 4 million cars’ worth) in just one year, and that is only half of one state’s farmland. 

Of course, planting cover crops is just one aspect of regenerative farming which is a more holistic approach to soil health, results in cleaner waterways, puts carbon back into the ground, and ultimately helps us combat climate change.  Things such as conservation tilling, crop rotations, composting, diversifying crops that are grown, and the reintegration of animals to the farm are all needed for maximum effectiveness of the regenerative farming model.  And in order for this to be done, more than one eco-minded family farm at a time, we need open communication between farmers, and the backing of government policy to encourage the changes instead of reinforcing the mono-crop farming habits of today.  The good news is that there is a new certification, the regenerative organic certification, which is currently being piloted by the Rodale Institute.  Organic Valley is also piloting its own program in California, where there are already incentive programs in place for “carbon farming” planning and practices.

Per the Rodale Institute, the goal of the regenerative organic certification is to “increase soil organic matter over time, improve animal welfare, provide economic stability and fairness for farmers, ranchers, and workers, and create resilient regional ecosystems and communities.”  The aim is not to replace current organic practices, but rather to support them as well as make it easier for widespread adaptation of the regenerative farming model.  This is something that has really caught our interest here at Harmony Valley Farm, and we look forward to hearing more about it in the future.

The initiatives here in the US aren’t the only ones aiming to combat climate control through regenerative farming.  Regeneration International, a world-wide non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and practicing regenerative farming, has played a huge role in bringing the 4 per 1000: Soils for Food Security and Climate Initiative to the world stage.  4 per 1000 is a regenerative farming initiative launched by the French government in December 2015, and goes hand in hand with the Paris Climate Accord, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreement between 197 countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that was also signed that same month.  However, out of the 197 countries to sign the Paris Climate Accord, only 36 of them have also committed to regenerative farming practices.  In order to bring awareness to the world benefiting practice, Regeneration International has assisted in bringing 1 per 4000 Initiative teaching events to Washington DC, Mexico City, and Montreal, Canada.  In October of this year, they are partnering with South African agencies as well as the French and German governments to hold a symposium in Johannesburg.

Little baby clover (cover crop) overseeded
in our
Brussels sprout field.
We’ve talked about how great regenerative farming is for the planet, but what does it do for farmers?  As I mentioned earlier, Farmer Richard has been planting cover crops for over 40 years, well before the regenerative farming movement caught his attention, because of the benefit it gives the farm and because it is the right thing to do.  Something he knows well is that healthy soil means healthy crops.  And healthy crops are good for the bottom line.  Del Ficke, a 5th generation farmer from Pleasant Dale, NE who adopted practices such as cover crops, reintegrating livestock, and using manure instead of chemical fertilizer, told the Union of Concerned Scientists “I used to farm 7,000 acres. Now I’m less than 700 acres, but 70 percent more profitable.”  While starting these practices takes time and commitment, and are oftentimes difficult, when your soil is healthy and you are following good farming practices, regenerative farming can produce yields comparable to conventional crops, or even better yields, without damaging the planet.  “It’s a ripple effect,” Ficke says.  “Money will follow the sustainability.”  Once we can show the everyday farmer how these practices can not only help the environment, but make their farms more productive and economical, it is only a matter of time before everyone gets on board.  Let’s just hope it's not too late.

August 23, 2018 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Tomatillo

Cooking With This Week's Box:

This Week’s Summary of Recipes and the Vegetables They Utilize:

Tomatillos: Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce (see below)

Poblano Peppers: Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce (see below); Roasted Poblano, Onion and Jack Quesadillas

Zucchini or Yellow Summer Squash: Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce (see below); Zucchini-TomatoTart

White Spanish Onions or Red Onions: Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce (see below); Fried Rice with Edamame & CornRoasted Poblano, Onion and Jack Quesadillas

Missouri Garlic: Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce (see below); Fried Rice with Edamame & CornZucchini-TomatoTart 

Green Bell or Orange Italian Frying Peppers Or Orange Ukraine Peppers: Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce (see below)

Jalapeno Peppers: Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce (see below); Spicy Watermelon Margaritas

Sweet Corn: Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce (see below); Fried Rice with Edamame & Corn

Welcome back for another week of cooking with the bounty of late summer!  I had a lot of fun testing this week’s featured recipe for Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce (see below).  This was my first time ever making enchiladas.  While there are several steps to the process, they are really quite easy to make and very delicious to eat!  It also gave me a chance to talk to some of the Mexican ladies I work with about cooking.  Beatriz and Antonia are excellent cooks and make delicious tortillas, tamales, etc.  They coached me on different ways to prepare enchiladas, salsas, etc.  Food is a great portal to use for getting to know other people and other cultures.  While my version of this recipe may not be entirely traditional, it’s pretty close and I think you’ll enjoy it!  This recipe is also a great way to utilize multiple vegetables in your box in one recipe!

We’re happy to have more sweet, tender edamame beans this week and I can’t resist making my favorite Fried Rice with Edamame & Corn.  I make this in the winter with frozen vegetables, but it’s best made in the height of the season with fresh vegetables including edamame, sweet corn, carrots, garlic and onions.
Zucchini-Tomato Tart, photo from The Bojon Gourmet
This past week I came across a new blog that I really like and found this recipe for a Zucchini-Tomato Tart.  This recipe has a cornmeal crust and is filled with mozzarella, goat cheese, fresh basil, tomatoes and zucchini.  It makes a simple dish to serve for dinner or even brunch.

You won’t use all of your tomatoes in the Zucchini-Tomato Tart, so with the remaining tomatoes you can try this recipe for Brown Butter Tomatoes that can be found at Food 52.  This is a super simple recipe consisting of slices of fresh tomatoes drizzled with fresh, brown butter.  Eat these with toast and eggs for breakfast or as a side dish. 

Lets talk about the red seedless watermelon in this week’s box.  You could just opt to eat it just as it is, or you could use it to make either Spicy Watermelon Margaritas or Watermelon Peach Frose.  The watermelon margarita recipe comes from Jeanine who writes on her blog,  Jeanine is from Texas and knows margaritas!  This one gets its sweetness from watermelons and the spice from a jalapeno!  The watermelon peach frose recipe is a good option if you also receive the fruit share as we have Colorado peaches in this week’s box.  Basically you freeze fresh peaches and watermelon and then blend the frozen fruit with rose wine to make an adult slushy!

Photo from A Sweet Pea Chef
Now that we’ve tackled dinner ideas for 3-4 nights, as well as an idea for weekend brunch and some tasty drinks to enjoy on the patio with friends, lets clean up the remaining items in the box.  With the remaining peppers lingering in the bottom of the box, I’d like to suggest making the Roasted Poblano, Onion and Jack Quesadillas.  This recipe calls for 3 poblano peppers.  If you used one of your three peppers for the enchilada sauce, you may find yourself a little short on poblanos for this recipe.  If that’s the case, use the remainder of your poblano peppers and supplement with some of the sweet peppers.  Serve these with Parmesan Roasted Green Beans Parmesan Roasted Green Beans on the side.

There may be a few items in your box that I haven’t mentioned.  Some members will receive the last of this year’s Sweet Sarah Cantaloupe this week, but we won’t have enough for all boxes.  Don’t worry, we won’t leave a big hole in the box when the cantaloupe are gone!  We’re hoping to dig more potatoes this week, so for those who don’t receive the cantaloupe, you’ll most likely receive more potatoes or possibly more tomatoes.  I hope you have a great week and enjoy the final days of summer before it’s time to go back to school and transition into fall!  Next week we’ll be saying good-bye to August and welcoming in September!  —chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Tomatillos

Green and Purple 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, we also grow 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.  Unlike roasted peppers, the skin on roasted tomatillos is generally left intact.  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.

Pork and Tomatillo Stew, Picture from food&wine
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.  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.  Have fun and enjoy this unique selection!

Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce (Enchiladas Suizas)

Yield:  4 servings

¾ pound green tomatillos, husks removed
1 jalapeño pepper
1 poblano pepper
¼ tsp cumin seeds, toasted
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
½- ¾ cup roughly chopped cilantro
½ cup boiling water
½ cup sour cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for frying the tortillas
4 oz fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup diced sweet peppers
1 cup diced zucchini
½ cup diced red onion
2 ears fresh corn, kernels cut from the cob
4-6 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
Pico de gallo, for serving (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  You will also need a blender to puree the sauce.
  2. First, roast tomatillos, jalapeño and poblano pepper either over an open flame such as a grill or gas burner, or under the broiler in the oven.  Roast until blackened all over.  Once roasted, put the tomatillos and jalapeño directly into a blender.  Put the poblano pepper in a bowl and cover it to steam for 5-10 minutes before removing the peeling and the seeds.  Roughly chop the poblano pepper and add it to the blender.  
  3. Add the cumin seeds, garlic, cilantro, salt, freshly ground black pepper and boiling water to the blender along with the tomatillos and peppers. Blend until smooth, then add the sour cream and blend to combine.  Taste and adjust the seasoning of the sauce to taste with additional salt and pepper.  Set the enchilada sauce aside.
  4. Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil to the pan.  When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and onions.  Sautè for several minutes or until the mushrooms begin to soften.  Add 1 Tbsp more oil to the pan and then add the sweet peppers, zucchini and corn.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sautè until the vegetables are tender but not fully cooked.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. Heat another medium sized skillet over medium-high heat.  Add enough vegetable oil to the pan to completely cover the bottom of the pan in a thick layer.  Working in batches, grasp tortillas with tongs and fry each one in the oil just until it’s pliable, 30-40 seconds at most.  Transfer the tortillas to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.  Once all of the tortillas are fried, you can start assembling the enchiladas.
  6. First, prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking pan by pouring a thin layer of sauce in the bottom.  Lay each tortilla on a work surface and prepare them one at a time.  Put some of the vegetable mixture on the tortilla and roll it as tightly as you can.  Put the rolled tortillas in the baking pan, seam side down.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas to create one row down the center of the dish.  Once all of the tortillas are rolled, pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortilla rolls.  Spread the shredded cheese evenly over the top of the tortillas.
  7. Bake the enchiladas for 25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted on top and lightly browned.  Remove from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes.  Serve warm with plenty of sauce and pico de gallo.

This recipe was created by Chef Andrea Yoder.  It was adapted from and inspired by a recipe for Chicken Enchiladas Suizas featured in the July 2012 publication of Saveur magazine.  The original version of the recipe may be found at