Grilled Peppers with Saffron Vinaigrette

This makes for a good mini salad in a multi-course meal, or try it over crostini for an appetizer you can make ahead and keep in the fridge waiting for the moment to strike. It also just has a lot of yummy tips for how to best bring out the flavor in peppers, and the dressing is a fantastic addition to your repertoire. This recipe is from one of my favorite books: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (by Deborah Madison, which my family lovingly refers to as the family potluck bible. If you’re interested in canning those peppers from the market and save Summer for the coming Winter, check out this old time method.

Directions:

Grill and peel a selection of different-colored bell peppers (directions below), allowing 1/2 pepper per person. Be sure to reserve any juices that collect in the bowl while they’re steaming.  Slice the peppers into halves or quarters, scrape out the seeds, and layer the peppers on a platter. Make Saffron Vinaigrette with Basil (see recipe below), adding any reserved pepper juices. Toss the peppers with vinaigrette to moisten and serve garnished with sprigs of basil and Nicoise olives.

How to grill and peel peppers:

roasted peppersPlace whole peppers directly on a gas burner (on your stovetop) or on the grill. Roast the peppers until the skin becomes wrinkled and loose, turning them frequently with a pair of tongs. If you want the peppers to be soft and slightly smoky, roast them until the skins are completely charred. Set the peppers in a bowl, put a plate on top, and let them steam at least 15 minutes to loosen the skins.

If you wish to grill bell peppers without peeling them, slice off the top of the tip of the pepper, open it up, and remove the veins and seeds. Brush with olive oil and grill, skin side facing the fire, until the skins are puckery and lightly marked but not charred. Turn the grill on the second side for a few minutes, then remove and season with salt and pepper. Leave the peppers in large pieces or cut them into strips as desired.  Skinny peppers and chiles can be brushed with oil, grilled whole until just blistered, then sprinkled with salt.

Saffron Vinaigrette with Basil

For a saffron lover, this dressing will become a favorite. Use it with summer vegetables- roasted peppers and potatoes, grilled zucchini, tomato salads, grilled fennel. Or add finely diced tomatoes to the dressing and spoon it over grilled or roasted eggplants.

oil with saffronIn a bowl, combine 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons snipped chives, 1/2 teaspoon grated or minced orange zest, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Warm 2 tablespoons of oil right over the heat in a small measuring cup, crumble in a pinch of saffron threads and let stand for a few minutes. Add this oil to the dressing and whisk in 6 more tablespoons of olive oil, Add 2 tablespoons of snipped or torn basil leaves just before using. Makes about 1/2 cup of dressing.

Three ways we Cantaloupe

Play outside the melon with these three recipes for salsa, sorbet, and salad that expands the can-do in cantaloupe:

 

Melon Salsa

Ingredients for Melon Salsa:

  • 2 cups diced Cantaloupe (1/4- to 1/2-in. cubes)
  • 1 cup diced cucumber (1/4- to 1/2-in. cubes)
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped red onion. To take the sting out, after dicing up, sit in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes, then take out, pat dry with a paper towel, and continue)
  • 1 serrano chile, stemmed, halved, and sliced
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions (that’s it!)

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  2. Make ahead: Up to 1 day, covered and chilled.

 

Shaved Cantaloupe and Prosciutto Salad

Ingredients for the Cantaloupe Salad

  • 4 slices (1 oz.) thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 recently ripened cantaloupe, halved, seeded, and rind cut off (the less ripe, the easier and cleaner the shave for the salad, but the riper, the sweeter.  Find your sweet spot 😉
  • 8 to 10 large mint leaves, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°. Set a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Lay prosciutto on rack and bake until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully. Let cool, then break into shards and chips.
  2. Shave off ribbons of cantaloupe onto a large serving platter, using a vegetable peeler, mandoline, or very sharp knife (really! Sharpen your knives folks!). Sprinkle prosciutto and mint over melon shavings. Drizzle oil very lightly over salad.
  3. Note: Nutritional analysis is per 3/4-cup serving.

 

Cantaloupe Sorbet

Ingredients for Cantaloupe Sorbet:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 cups 1-inch pieces peeled seeded cantaloupe (about 1/2 cantaloupe)

Instructions:

  1. Combine sugar and water in medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil. Transfer to 11x7x2-inch glass dish and chill until cold, about 2 hours.

  2. Puree cantaloupe in blender until smooth. Add to sugar syrup in dish and stir until well blended. Freeze until almost firm, stirring occasionally, at least 3 hours or overnight.

  3. Transfer cantaloupe mixture to large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until fluffy. Return to freezer and freeze until firm (do not stir), at least 3 hours or overnight. (Sorbet can be prepared 3 days ahead.) Cover and keep frozen.

 

Recipes are from Sunset (my favorite west coast magazine) and Epicurious.

 

 

Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Frittata

I learned about the magic of frittatas from Yebuny Johnson, who you may know, is a fabulous cook, a heart-centered human being, and a brand new mom. Turns out, frittatas are easier than I ever thought, and is a great quick dish to pop into the oven and walk away from, and can include just about whatever you have left in your fridge and pantry. I’m a big fan of goat cheese, and that rainbow of peppers at the market are just too beautiful to pass up. I found this recipe from Eating Well:

 

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced red bell pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

 

Directions

  1. Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.
  2. Whisk eggs, oregano, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper and scallions and cook, stirring constantly, until the scallions are just wilted, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  3. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cook, lifting the edges of the frittata to allow the uncooked egg to flow underneath, until the bottom is light golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Dot the top of the frittata with cheese, transfer the pan to the oven and broil until puffy and lightly golden on top, 2 to 3 minutes. Let rest for about 3 minutes before serving. Serve hot or cold.

Corn on the Cob: 7 Flavorful Ways

Perfectly cooked grilled corn by Bobby Flay

  1. Heat the grill to medium.
  2. Pull the outer husks down the ear to the base. Strip away the silk from each ear of corn by hand. Fold husks back into place, and place the ears of corn in a large bowl of cold water with 1 tablespoon of salt for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove corn from water and shake off excess. Place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, or until kernels are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Remove the husks and eat on the cob or remove the kernels.

 

Chili Lime Honey Butter
Mix 6 tablespoons softened butter, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 2 teaspoons of honey, 1 teaspoon chili powder and a dash of cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Slather on hot corn on the cob, then sprinkle on some salt and give it an extra spritz of lime.

Blue Cheese Chive Butter
Mash together 4 tablespoons softened butter with 4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese. Stir in 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper. Spread on hot corn on the cob.

Herb Vinaigrette
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, a hefty pinch of salt and black pepper, 3 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme. Drizzle over the corn.

Cheesy Cilantro Chili Pepper
Slather cooked corn with 1 tablespoon of butter, then sprinkle each cob with chili powder, cotija cheese, fresh chopped cilantro and finish with a spritz of lime juice

Smoked Feta and Pepper
Finely crumble 1/2 cup smoked feta cheese. Mix in 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeno peppers. Coat each hot ear of corn with butter, then roll in the cheese and pepper mixture.

Honey Ginger BBQ Sauce
Combine 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup mild honey, 1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons hot sauce, 4 large garlic cloves (minced), 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt and briskly simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. (Stir frequently toward end of cooking to prevent sticking.) This is an excellent BBQ sauce, but keep going with the corn on the cob recipe by brushing the mixture onto the cobs just 1 or 2 minutes before they’re done on the grill. Oil the grill beforehand and it shouldn’t stick.

Jerk Grilled
Whisk together 1 tablespoon water and 2 tablespoons molasses. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat 4 ears of corn with the molasses mixture. Sprinkle all over with purchased or homemade jerk seasoning. Grill over indirect heat on well-oiled grates until tender.

Tomato Cream and Bacon Pie

This recipe is inspired by a Better Home and Garden recipe, with extra extra flaky crust(s) and we think it works with heirloom toms or cherry toms!  Try it and tell us what you think!

What you will need:

  • 6 strips bacon
  • 1 15 ounce package rolled refrigerated unbaked piecrust (2 crust) (or see recipe below for making your own crust)
  • 2/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes or roasted heirloom tomatos
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced leaf lettuce
  • Lemon wedges (optional)

Directions for making the crust (if not buying it right out)

1 cup unsalted butter, cold
2 cups all- purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 to 5 tablespoons, ice water

 

Directions for making the crust:

1. Cut the butter into 1/2-in/12-mm cubes, and freeze them while you measure and mix the dry ingredients.

2. To make the dough in a food processor: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the processor and pulse three or four times to mix. Retrieve the butter cubes from the freezer, scatter them over the flour mixture, and pulse until the mixture forms pea-size clumps. Add the ice water, 1 tbsp at a time, and pulse to mix, adding just enough water for the dough to come together.

To make the dough by hand: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Retrieve the butter cubes from the freezer and distribute them evenly in the flour mixture, coating them with the flour mixture. Sink your fingers into the mixture and begin pinching the butter and flour together, making thin, floury disks of the butter. Continue working the mixture until the butter is broken down first into floury pea-sized beads and then into a loose mixture that resembles wet sand. Drizzle in 3 tbsp of the ice water and use your hand like a comb to mix in the liquid just until the dough holds together. If necessary, add additional water, 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough comes together in a crumbly mass.

3. Turn the dough out onto a clean, floured work surface or sheet of parchment paper. Gather the dough together in a mound, then knead it a few times to smooth it out. Divide it in half, and gently pat and press each half into a rough circle, about 1 in/2.5 cm thick. Lay wax or parchment paper in two pie pans and lay the dough in each. Wrap in plastic wrap or in the wax/parchment paper and put in freezer for 30 minutes.

 

Directions for making the Pie

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the pie crusts from the freezer, and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. In a large skillet cook bacon until just done but not crisp. Transfer to paper towel. Reserve 1 Tbsp. bacon drippings in skillet; set aside. Make sure to save that leftover (if any) intoxicating fat for another time!

On a lightly floured surface, stack the two piecrusts. Roll from center to edges to form a 12-inch circle. Wrap pastry around a rolling pin; unroll pastry into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. (Sides should be 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep). Ease pastry into pie plate, allowing edges to form a loose ruffled or scalloped effect. Gently press pastry into the bottom of pie plate. Sides will not lay flat against pie plate.

Prick bottom of pastry. Line pastry with a double thickness of foil; bake 10 minutes.

Remove foil; bake 5 minutes more. Remove, and reduce heat to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese over the piecrust.

Place half the bacon slices around the edge of the crust. Set aside.

Cook onion in reserved bacon dripping over medium heat until tender. Drain drippings. Set aside.

Halve 2 cups of the cherry tomatoes, leaving the remaining 2 cups whole. Place the halved and whole tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Alternatively roast heirloom tomatoes (see directions in step 2 of this recipe) and slice to 1/2 inch segments and put in a large mixing bowl.

Add olive oil, 2 Tbsp. of the basil, salt, and 1/4 tsp. of the pepper. Stir to combine.

In a separate bowl beat together cream cheese, mayonnaise, egg yolk, cooked onion, lemon peel, and remaining Parmesan, basil, and pepper. Spoon cream cheese mixture into piecrust.

Top with tomato mixture.

Nestle the remaining bacon slices among the tomatoes, weaving bacon between tomatoes. Gently press tomatoes and bacon into the cream cheese mixture. Bake pie until cherry tomatoes just begin to brown or the crust browns and becomes flakey when you touch it, about 35 minutes. (Loosely cover pie with foil if edges brown too quickly, say 15 minutes.) Let stand 60 minutes. Top with leaf lettuce and serve with lemon wedges for a little bit of zest.

Simple Tomato Sauce

This week and next at the farmers’ & artisans’ market we’re offering samples of the many different varieties of tomatoes! Pick your favorites, grab a box full, and try this mouth watering recipe that brings out their unique flavors! The two key steps in this recipe are to remove the water-filled seed pockets (which helps to deepen the flavor by removing water weight), and roasting (which further removes moisture). This recipe comes (slightly altered) from Chez Panisse in Berkeley.

  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 medium leek
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 small bunch basil (about 1/4 pound)
  • Salt & pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Cut out a cone at the stem end of the tomatoes to remove the core, and cut the tomatoes into quarters. If you have a grapefruit spoon or a strawberry topper, use it to remove about 50% of the water seed pockets. Toss with half the olive oil.  Put the tomatoes in a baking dish and roast them, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times to encourage even cooking.  The tomatoes are cooked when the flesh is very soft and the skin separates easily from the flesh.
  3. Peel and slice the onion.  Trim, wash, and dice the leek.  Peel and dice the carrot.  Cut the head of garlic in half horizontally.
  4. Heat the remaining olive oil in a stainless steel or other nonreactive pot (aluminum reacts with the acid in tomatoes and spoils the flavor).  Add the vegetables and the garlic and cook the vegetables over medium heat until completely soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the roasted tomatoes and the herbs.  Simmer, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until the flavors come together, for 30 to 45 minutes.  Pass the sauce through a food mill and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Makes about 1 quart.

Miso-Glazed Eggplant

The following recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, which I cook from regularly. Mielle Chenier Cowan Rose’s Piece of My Heart is filled with simple whole food nutritional meals that a discerning pallet will appreciate, and a picky kid would gobble up.

Did you know eggplants are sexed?  Male eggplants have less seeds, are sweeter, and have a better texture than the females. To pick out a male eggplant at the store, Mielle recommends checking the seal on the booty.  A circle indicates a female, and a male will have more of an oval or a line.

She also shares her trick for reducing the natural bitterness in eggplants: toss raw slices with salt and let stand for twenty minutes, then blot dry before cooking.

 

Yields 4-6 servings

This is awesome with rice or noodles. It will win over even the die-hard eggplant aversion.

Preheat oven to about 400 degrees.

Combine in a small bowl:

  • 2 Tbl miso
  • 1-2 tsp honey or other syrup
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbl rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbl water
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, optional

Set Sauce aside.

Combine in a baking dish:

  • 4 Japanese eggplants (but we recommend trying the new local eggplants from the garden!), cut into large diagonal chunks
  • Olive oil, to coat
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Roast for about 25 minutes, then stir in sauce (above) and return to oven for 5-8 minutes more.

Garnish with toasted walnuts and enjoy!

 

Summer Green Bean Salad

This is a great meal to prepare ahead of time and just have waiting for you on a hot day in the fridge. Martha Stewart has actually got a pretty cool selection of recipes, which is where I found the base for what I’m sharing with you below.  I’m finding the best as they come into season and will post them here, of course.

My goal is that we can use the tags that I put on each recipe for you to find something to do with each bit of produce that you pick up.  Does that sound like a good plan? To see the categories and tags that we have so far, click the three horizontal lines on the top left corner there.

This recipe is catered towards the heirlooms that we’ve got coming into the store lately. I love the light crunch from the beans, which are only partially cooked and cooled, the juicy salty and sweet tomato, and the sweetness of the corn.  I’d like to experiment with not cooking the corn on this one.  Comment below on your thoughts!

Remember the neat trick we showed a couple of weeks ago on trimming your green beans in seconds?  Check it out here beneath our last green bean recipe.

  • Coarse salt
  • 3 ears corn, husks and silk removed
  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, stem ends snapped off
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and gently smashed
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium Heirloom tomato, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 2 cups of small, mixed red heirloom tomatoes, halved

 

  1. They say to cook the corn until tender in a large pot of salted water (5 to 7 minutes). Remove corn with tongs and set aside on a cutting board to cool. Using a strainer, remove any corn silk remaining in the pot. I like the taste of raw corn though, and I’d recommend trying it with raw kernels or if you’re near a grill, grilled corn. Yum!

  2. Add the trimmed green beans and return to a boil, and cook until very tender, about 8 minutes (timing may vary depending on the size of the beans). Meanwhile, cut the corn kernels off the cobs and put kernels in a large bowl. Drain the beans in a colander, shake to remove excess water, and put in bowl with corn. Add garlic and 3 tablespoons of oil. Toss well and let stand at least 30 minutes for flavors to blend; refrigerate if longer than 30 minutes. I think that this is a great recipe to try making ahead and storing in the fridge for the following day. It holds up well and lets the flavors marinate just a little bit more.

  3. If necessary, bring beans and corn to room temperature by removing them from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Just before serving, remove the garlic and add the remaining tablespoon of oil along with vinegar, onion, and sliced tomatoes. Add salt to taste and serve at room temperature.

 

If you’re trying the recipe, make sure to leave us a comment below! We’d love to know how it went!

The Shishito Pepper

We are getting these gorgeous little emerald jewels in, which many might mistake for a padron pepper. They are similar but not the same, having a sweeter lighter flavor than their earthy counterparts.  Happy Boy Farms wrote up a little side by side on their differences here, if you are interested.

Shishito peppers taste best when they are grilled, broiled, or sauteed, just as long as they’re blistered. The sweet pepper (and perhaps one out of every 10 is surprisingly hot) mixed with the smoky gooeyness from being tossed around on the fire makes a great match. They’re great finger food, but I’ve also thrown them into a salad after cooling a bit.  Below is a basic recipe, that should take just 15 minutes to execute:

 

These directions comes from  Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom, with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes by Deborah Madison:

Heat a little olive oil in a wide sauté pan until it is good and hot but not smoking. Add the peppers and cook them over medium, tossing and turning them frequently until they blister. They shouldn’t char except in places. Don’t rush. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to cook a panful of peppers. When they’re done, toss them with sea salt and add a squeeze of fresh lemon. Slide the peppers into a bowl and serve them hot. You pick them up by the stem end and eat the whole thing, minus the stem, that is.

You can probably do fancier, cheffy things with them, but they’re terrific like this. For variety, I sometimes use a little toasted sesame oil instead of olive oil and finish them with togarashi. If you have leftovers, an unlikely event in my experience, chop off the stems and put the peppers in an omelet or some scrambled eggs.

Green Beans With Bacon Vinaigrette

We have beautiful French fillet beans coming from the farm! The key to cooking fresh green beans just right is to parboil them beforehand. This will soften them and prepare them for the saute. Bacon and green beans are a match made in heaven in this dish from Real Simple, but the mustard and vinegar give it complexity and kick! Do you think trimming green beans is a time waster? Check below the recipe on how to trim 2 pounds of green beans in a snap!

 

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and black pepper

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the green beans and cook until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool; transfer to a serving bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool, then break into pieces.
  3. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings from the skillet and return to medium heat. I like to pour all of my bacon drippings into a jar to save for adding a hint of bacon flavor to other dishes in the future. Don’t throw it out! Add the shallots and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar, mustard, oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add to the green beans, along with the bacon, and toss to combine.

 

How to trim off the ends of green beans in (even faster than a) snap:

Trimming green beansYou only need to cut off the stem end, where the bean attached to the vine. The other end if fine to eat.  Line up the stems. Sort the beans so that the stems all face one direction. Scoot a handful against your palm so that they’re even and then chop them all off in one go!

With this method you’ll be getting through a whole bowl in just a few minutes!