Tomato Conserva

09/30/2016

 
Adapted from The Los Angeles Times

This recipe is neither easy nor quick (in fact, it will take most of a day to make). But if you want to capture the essence of gorgeous vine-ripened tomatoes (while you still can get them at market), this is your recipe. By slowly cooking tomato pulp in a low oven, you end up with an intensely flavored, homemade tomato paste that is sweeter with a more pure tomato taste than the canned varieties. Add a tablespoon to any pasta sauce, stew, soup, or gravy to impart a concentrated tomato depth of flavor. It is also a great condiment; spread it on toast instead of butter, serve with a cheese board, scramble a teaspoon into eggs, or eat with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich. Top each jar with a layer of olive oil, and the conserva will keep months in the refrigerator (if you scale up the recipe, keep the extra in half pint jars in the freezer). Just be sure to always use a very clean utensil when scooping it out, and adding more oil to the top before returning it to the refrigerator.

Make about 1 to 1 1/2 cups

Special equipment:  food mill, half-pint canning jars, rimmed baking sheet ( a.k.a. half sheet)

INGREDIENTS
5 pounds ripe good-quality tomatoes - meaty Romas work great
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for storage
1 teaspoon salt

METHOD
1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Chop tomatoes roughly. Warm the olive oil in a large pot, add the tomatoes and salt, and bring the tomatoes to a rapid boil. Cook the tomatoes for about 2 minutes, or until they are very soft. Immediately pass them through the finest plate of a food mill, pushing as much of the pulp through the sieve as you can. Note: If your tomatoes are very ripe and you have a strong arm, you can skip the cooking step, but it will require lots of elbow grease. 

2. Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil. Spread the tomatoes on the pan in an even layer. The tomatoes will spend 4 to 5 hours total in the oven, evaporating liquid and reducing considerably. 

3. Allow tomatoes to cook for 90 minutes, remove from oven and use a spatula to the turn the paste. Return to oven and cook, turning every hour, until all the liquid has evaporated and the paste is turning dark and thick.  This should take 2 to 3 more hours (depending on your oven and the water content of your tomatoes).  

4. Once the paste is thick and dark, reduce the oven to 250 degrees and continue to cook another 2 hours, turning it with a spatula every 45 minutes to an hour. The paste is done when it is thick, shiny, and a deep red and may be ready to come out of the oven in less than two hours.

5. Transfer the conserva to two to three clean half-pint glass canning jars. Tomato conserva holds for a long time stored in glass jars and topped with one-half inch of olive oil. As you use it, maintain this level of olive oil on top. When not using it, store conserva in the refrigerator. 
 
 
FRESHFARM Staff 

Romano or flat green beans require a little more cooking than regular green beans. Stewing them in tomatoes and garlic tenderizes them and infuses them with flavor. We like this Italian preparation as a side dish with roasted chicken or with poached eggs for a savory breakfast.  They are even good at room temperature topped with a little crumbled feta or ricotta salata. If you can’t find romanos,  you can use regular green beans instead. 



Serves 4 to six as a side dish

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 pounds Romano beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced 
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
3 cups peeled and diced tomatoes and their juices; preferably fresh Romas from market (see notes on how to peel tomatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
10 basil leaves

METHOD
Bring a medium pot of water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add cut beans and boil for five minutes. Drain and set aside. 

Over medium heat, heat oil in a large sauté pan, add garlic and once fragrant (about a minute; be sure not to brown) add optional chili flakes and the tomatoes.  Cook for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down. Add the cooked beans, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and stir to combine. Cook another 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are considerably reduced. Season with freshly grated black pepper and more salt, if need. Turn off heat. 

Cut the basil into a chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll them tightly,  and cut into very thin strips) and stir into tomato/bean stew. The leaves will darken pretty quickly, so if not serving immediately, and you want a pop of color, you can add another chiffonade of basil leaves right before serving. 


NOTE:
To peel tomatoes, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Cut an "X"  into the bottom of each tomato. Working in batches of  two or three tomatoes at time, drop them into boiling water for about a minute. Remove from water and when cool enough to handle, peel off the skin. With this dish you can use the same pot of salted water to peel tomatoes and boil cut beans; just do the tomatoes first. 

 

Massaman Curry

09/16/2016

 
Adapted from 101 Easy Asian Recipes

Who knew that you could purchase so many of the ingredients in this exotic southeast Asian dish at markets during the fall? Right now many of our farmers have fresh ginger (Love Dove Farm, Next Step Produce, Mock's Greenhouse,  The Farm at Sunnyside,  and Rainbow Hill Farm to name a few) and lemongrass (Country Pleasures Farm and Evensong Farm). The onions, potatoes, and chicken are abundant!  Once you've made this a few times adapt it as you see fit, swapping out potatoes for other vegetables, chicken for fish or tofu, peanuts for cashews. It won't be a traditional massaman curry, but it will still be delicious! 

Serves four to six

INGREDIENTS 
2 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil 
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup red curry paste
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
3 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 Kaffir lime leaves (optional) 
I stalk lemon grass, cut into 1 inch pieces and smashed with side of a kitchen knife
1 14 ounce can full-fat coconut milk
3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste 
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 lb potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms (optional) 
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
1 tablespoon fish sauce, more to taste 
1 whole lime, juiced 
brown sugar to taste 
Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro

METHOD
Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and cook until softened, a few minutes. Add the curry paste, coriander, and turmeric and stir to combine. Add the star anise, cinnamon stick, kaffir leaves and stir to combine. Add the coconut milk, stock, and salt.  

Bring to a boil and add the chicken thighs, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and peanuts and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook another 10 minutes. 

Remove the chicken thighs, place on a cutting board, and shred/chop with a knife and fork and return to pot. Add fish sauce, lime juice and taste. Adjust seasoning with a little brown sugar, more fish sauce, or salt.

Fish out whole spices, lemongrass and lime leaves and serve with rice (or zucchini noodles) and chopped cilantro.




 
 
Lindsay Wallace, FRESHFARM Deputy Director of Programs

What better way to savor the end of warm weather produce than with a refreshing cocktail? The next few weeks mark the end of melon season, and we know that many farmers have a glut of cucumbers...for now. So when you're at market this weekend be sure to grab your favorite melon, some cukes, and get (cocktail) shaking! 

Makes One Cocktail

INGREDIENTS
2 shots melon juice*
1 shot cucumber-infused vodka**
1/2 shot simple syrup
3/4 shot fresh lime juice
Salt and aleppo pepper for rim
Shaved cucumber ribbon for garnish

METHOD
Combine salt and aleppo pepper in a small plate with a lip. Dampen the rim of a cocktail glass with a cut lime and put glass upside down into the salt and aleppo pepper plate. Swirl around until you have a nice salt rim on the glass. Put a large ice cube in the glass.

In a shaker or mason jar, combine melon juice, vodka, simple syrup, and lime juice with several ice cubes. Shake vigorously. Strain into cocktail glass, garnish with a ribbon of cucumber, and enjoy.

*To make melon juice: remove rind and cube melon of choice. Put in a blender or food processor and run until completely smooth. Strain through a cheesecloth or fine meshed sieve. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

**To make cucumber-infused vodka: use a vegetable peeler to shave long, thin ribbons of a Persian or English cucumber. Place about half a cucumber in a jar with 1/4 cup vodka and let sit for at least 15 minutes or up to several days in the refrigerator.
 

Pickled Red Onions

09/02/2016

 
Juliet Glass, Communications Director

These easy pickled onions add flavor, crunch, and color to just about any savory dish. We love them with hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and tacos, tossed with salad greens and a simple vinaigrette, or folded into potato salad.  Put them in a mason jar, and they make a nice hostess gift. These will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks, but good luck keeping them around that long! 

Makes about one pint.

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cups white vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon salt
2 whole peppercorns
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 large or two small red onions, peeled and sliced into rings

METHOD
Place all the ingredients except for the onions into a small sauce pan. Bring to boil over high heat.  Working in two batches, place onions in pot, return to boil, and cook for 3 minutes. Remove onions and spread out on a plate to cool. Repeat with the second batch, placing them on the plate to cool. Turn off heat and allow the onions and the brine to each cool completely. 

Once cooled place in a pint jar and store in the refrigerator. They can be eaten right away, but if you wait a few hours the color will deepen to a bright pink and the flavors with develop nicely.