This week we got: carrots, cucumber, red butter lettuce, some kind of mint (spearmint, maybe?), a red onion, two giant tomatoes, zucchini, long beans, collards, a green pepper, and a surprise eggplant that wasn’t on our list. I bought raspberries, blueberries, and yellow peaches at the market. And then my neighbor and I divided up our groceries and my humidity-addled mind completely forgot to take a picture of it. It pretty much looked like last week’s haul: big and leafy and colorful. July is an awesome time for produce: great variety, great quantity, and everything so sweet and ripe that you hardly need to cook anything if you don’t feel like it. Which you probably don’t, humid as it’s been.
Two content notes: just like last week, the carrots came with their tops on in a giant leafy bunch–I forgot to mention, you can absolutely eat those. Sometimes the more tender leaves are nice in a salad, and they’d probably be good in a soup or as a seasoning, like parsley. The wild growths of the last two weeks have been a bit tough, so we gave them a good rinse and stuffed them in the stock bags. Carrot leaves are great in stock because they pretty much taste like carrot–so much so that my neighbor, who is allergic to raw carrot roots, couldn’t eat the raw foliage on these last two unruly bunches. I put some in the “aromatics” bag we keep for meat stocks and some in with the veggie scraps.
About that pepper, though–sorry, capsicum lovers, you’ll find no pepper cooking suggestions here. I’m not sure why–bell peppers didn’t show up on my allergy tests last winter, and I don’t have the same reaction to any other kind of pepper–but the fact remains that bell peppers trigger nausea reactions for me–lips curled back, constricted throat, queasiness. I can stomach a little–many restaurants don’t feel the need to list bell pepper as an ingredient, so I often find myself picking them off of home fries or out of soups and dealing with a little collateral damage. In my own house, though, I just give all of the CSA peppers to my neighbor, and bless her for taking them away.
So, on to the veggie breakdown. For the first part the week I didn’t get much cooking done, being busy and tired and able to coast on eating raw veggies and fruit and yogurt when at home. In fact, even Saturday when I did have more time and some company, we just made ourselves gigantic salads.
It did involve a minimum of cooking: we were making zucchini muffins out of the gigantic zucchini I bought last week, so while the muffins baked, I hard-boiled some eggs and blanched the long beans. We sauteed the long beans in sesame oil and crushed red pepper and nigella–along these lines–but then we just put them on top of our salads. Well, and snacked on them while we finished everything up. That’s my hand snaking in to snatch one.
On Sunday, though, my neighbor came over and we cooked our hearts out in the cool of my air conditioning. We both had potatoes lying around, so we started them boiling while we did the usual collard stewing. We had extremely good bacon to cook it with, but next time we get collards I think we are going to try something new. While the collards stewed, we cut up a bunch of vegetables and minced herbs for a skillet ratatouille (as opposed to Julia Child-style casserole). While onions, fennel, and tomato paste simmered themselves in the basil oil I infused a couple weeks ago, we mashed up the potatoes with scallions and herbs. Then we added the eggplant (which had been salted and draining in a colander), big overripe tomatoes, some carrot, and our zucchinis to the simmering skillet sauce.
We let that simmer for awhile–an hour, maybe? Wasn’t keeping track–while we ate collards and potatoes, boiled pasta, and read and knit respectively. The ratatouille turned out surprisingly sweet, and rather prominently basil-scented–my mere two tablespoons of oil went a long way! We stirred in some cheese to thicken it and make it a bit more savory.
At some point during this cookstravaganza, I also brewed my second pitcher of mint tea with a little ginger and honey. It didn’t feel like we had cooked a lot–we spent a fair amount of time sitting on the couch with our respective projects and my cat’s upturned belly–but we certainly packed up a lot of meals out of those dishes. I didn’t need to prepare any meals for the next few days except for an odd little lettuceless salad. Our head of red butter lettuce was small, and though I had some lettuce remaining from the previous week, for the first time since May I was able to use it all up before I used up the radish, carrot, and cucumber.
All the same–I’m not tired of radish, carrot, or cucumber. I’ll probably buy more at the market to augment whatever comes in my next CSA box, since salad veggies are so cheap right now.