Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Guest Post: Anatomy of a Tree and Twig veggie basket

Thanks again to my friend Leslie for another great post. Soup is in my future, and I just love soups with dried beans in them. Great protein source for veg-heads like me!
Lots of veggies now my friends...it is harvest time!

For me getting a CSA basket from Linda is a lot like Christmas morning. She hands me an over flowing basket guaranteed to be packed with all kinds of great “presents” and a few surprises. I can’t wait to get it home, unpack it, and start coming up with all kinds of great things to do with the contents. Last week when I picked up my basket Linda asked if I would write a blog on what I did with my basket. So here goes! 
My basket included the following; 
Tomatoes – these ended up being used in the soup recipe below and for my favourite toasted tomato sandwiches 
Beets – once roasted in the oven they found their way into a salad of arugula, goat cheese, and pine nuts 
Tomatillos – I read on a menu about pickled tomatillos. Having never tried this I found a recipe online and have made a jar with the ones from my basket. As soon as they are ready to try I will let Linda know how it worked out! 
Beans – I asked Linda if I could purchase extra beans so that I could make some spicy dilly beans. They are great as a garnish in a bloody Caesar! 
Garlic – Garlic goes into everything I cook! The spicy dilly beans, into the soup, with the sautéed greens, you name it, garlic is in it. 
Eggplant – This went into the soup recipe below. Yum…I love eggplant, but don’t worry even if you are not a fan, try the soup. 
Peppers (Red, Green, Hot, not so hot) – The hot peppers ended up in the spicy dilly beans and with the pickled tomatillos. The red peppers went in the soup, and the green were had raw as a snack. 
Greens (Kale, Chard, etc.) – The greens were sautéed with garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. A nice Asian flavour twist. 
Assorted Herbs – Most of the herbs ended up in the soup. Any extra get added to salads. 
Cucumber – A giant cucumber, half found a home in a salad, and the other half was used as a snack. 
Morelle de Balbis – This is the little red fruit that has a husk much like a ground cherry or tomatillo. It has crazy sharp spikes on the husk and I can imagine is no fun for Linda to pick. However, this was the first time I had tasted these crazy little things and I must report I like them! So these were just for sampling but I don’t know what I would do if I had lot of them. Jam…maybe? 
Jelly Melon – Another strange find in my basket. It is orange in colour with crazy spikes on the outside. The skin is really tough, but when you cut into it you see this substance that resembles lime green jello. Definitely not what I was expecting. Again, another taste test but unfortunately not my favourite thing coming out of the garden. Sorry Linda, not a fan of the Jelly Melon. 
Potatoes – Ah nice new potatoes just dug from the ground. Around a roasting chicken they went. 
Radishes – Sliced thinly and mixed with vinegar and salt to create a quick pickled radish and then enjoyed as a side dish with dinner. 
Eggs – I always buy eggs from Linda. She has the best eggs around. They get used for potato salad, egg salad sandwiches, or just cooked up for breakfast. 
The same day I picked up my basket I also got a copy of Food & Drink magazine from the LCBO. In it was a recipe for Mediterranean Vegetable Bean Soup. Many of the items in my basket ended up in this soup. It is a great Fall soup, enjoy! 
Mediterranean Vegetable Bean Soup 
12 plum tomatoes (3lbs), chopped    (I substituted Linda’s heirloom tomatoes here) 
2 sweet red peppers, chopped
1 small eggplant, about 1lb peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper 
¼ cup olive oil 
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme 
½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary 
4 cups water (I used vegetable stock instead of water) 
1 can (540ml) white pea (navy) or kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used white kidney beans) 
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 4250
  2. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper
  3. Combine tomatoes, red peppers, eggplant and onion. Sprinkle with 1 tsp each salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Toss evenly to coat. Divide among baking sheets and spread out into a single layer. Toss garlic with oil left in bowl and arrange together on one of the baking sheets. Roast in upper and lower thirds of oven, rotating sheets halfway, for about 45 minutes or until vegetables are soft and browned. 
  4. Set roasted garlic aside. Transfer remaining roasted vegetables and all juices to a large pot. Stir in oregano, thyme, rosemary and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until flavours are blended. 
  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 3 cups of the vegetables to a blender or food processor. Add reserved garlic and half of the beans to blender. Puree, adding a little of the broth from the pot if necessary, until smooth. Stir back into pot along with remaining beans and return to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish each bowl with feta cheese. 
Serves 8 to 10    The flavours do bloom after sitting, so make the soup a day or two ahead and reheat it just before serving.  Enjoy! 

1 comment:

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wait, where is the cumcumber! is my favorite veggie ever and you forget it in your basket