Down on the Farm Notes

Our nights are cool once again, which helps our produce get some good growth on it.  If you want more cantaloupe, we will have it at the Farmer’s Markets. What will you find in the basket this week? Organic Zucchini Summer Squash, Organic Armenian Cucumbers *, Organic Carrots, Organic Garlic, Organic Shallots, Organic Sarah’s Choice Cantaloupe, Organic Minilope, Organic Mustard,Organic Arugula, Organic Lemon Basil, Organic Cherry Tomatoes, Organic Kale on Tuesday and Purslane from Debbie Coblentz on Thursday.

* are picked fresh but may need to be soaked in ice water for a few minutes for crisping.

Produce Tips

The Armenian cucumber is thin, elongated, curved and often irregularly curled with a creamy pistachio green colored skin that is textured with smooth longitudinal furrows. Its flesh is crisp, succulent and mildly flavored, similar to a common cucumber. Ideal sized Armenian cucumbers will range in length from 10-15 inches. Longer cucumbers will tend to be not just over-sized, but also overly mature with less moisture content. The Armenian cucumber is entirely edible. There is no need to peel the Armenian cucumber. Its thin skin makes it an ideal fresh slicing cucumber. Armenian cucumbers favor being served raw in green leaf, chopped salads and pasta salads. Their delicate flavor allows them to become a perfect textural component in sandwiches and sushi. They can be sliced lengthwise, widthwise, diced and julienned. The Armenian cucumber can be grilled, puréed or pickled. Complimentary ingredients include red and white fish, shellfish, chilies, tomatoes, mint, oregano, yogurt, garlic, cumin, chicken, pork and fresh cheeses such as feta and goat cheese. Armenian cucumbers should be refrigerated until ready to use. Once cut wrap in plastic to extend its shelf life.

Cantaloupe provides a refreshing, sweet and hearty treat, perfect for fruit salads and smoothies. Belonging to the same family as pumpkin, squash and cucumber, cantaloupe is an excellent source of beta-carotene and vitamin C. With a relatively low calorie count per serving, cantaloupe is a satisfying way to get your vitamins during the summer months. (Diabetics should eat cantaloupe in moderation, as it is falls in the medium range of the glycemic index.) You can identify a ripe cantaloupe by pressing your finger into the stem end – a gentle yielding is an indication of ripeness, as is a distinctive aroma of cantaloupe flesh where you test it. Place cantaloupe in the crisper, where humidity tends to be higher. Your cantaloupe will keep in the refrigerator up to 5 days this way.

Purslane has more omega-3 fatty acids than in some of fish oils. If you are a vegetarian and want to avoid all forms of animal products, then here is the answer! Wash fresh leaves and stem in clean cold running water. After removing from water, mop it with soft cloth to remove any moisture in them before storing in the refrigerator. It can be kept in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days but should be eaten while the leaves are fresh and not wilted.

Country Kitchen Recipes

 Armenian Cucumber Salad

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

1T sugar

1 small clove of garlic, crushed

Healthy pinch of salt

1 Armenian cucumber, thinly sliced, about 2 cups

1/4 cup thinly sliced red pepper*

2T finely diced red onion

2T finely diced yellow pepper

1 tsp dried dill weed

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds (optional)

Combine cider vinegar, water, sugar and garlic in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir and remove from the heat when the sugar is fully dissolved. Add a pinch of salt and let cool. Meanwhile, toss all the remaining ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. When the dressing is cool, pour over the vegetables; you may not want to use all the dressing if you prefer a drier salad. Also, since the salad improves with sitting, it’s fine to do this up to several hours ahead of time. Toss and serve.

Alternatively, carefully lay out the cucumber slices on four white plates. Sprinkle on the red and yellow peppers and the red onion. Follow with the dried dill and black mustard seed. When dressing is cool, drizzle over the vegetables and serve. Note: The red piquillo pepper which is a nice blend of juicy-sweet and slightly hot. You can substitute all red bell pepper or a combination of red bell pepper and something with a little heat, like a red jalapeno.

 

Quick Rocket Salad

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/3 cucumber, cubed

4 cherry tomatoes, halved

4 cups baby arugula leaves

1 cup alfalfa sprouts

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Add the cucumber, tomatoes, arugula, and alfalfa sprouts; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

 

Bruschetta with Shallots

12 roma tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, cut into slivers

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 (1 pound) loaf Italian bread, cut into 1/2 inch slices

 

In a large bowl, toss together the roma tomatoes, minced garlic, shallots, basil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and 1/3 cup olive oil. Place the slivered garlic and 1/4 cup olive oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Slowly cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes. Discard garlic. Toast the bread slices, and brush with the olive oil heated with garlic. Top slices with the roma tomato mixture.

 

Zucchini Lasagna

2 1/2 cups zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 2 medium)

1/2 lb lean ground beef (I use 1 lb.)

1/4 cup onion, chopped

2 small tomatoes, cut up

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 cup water

1/8 teaspoon pepper

egg

3/4 cup low fat cottage cheese (or low fat or fat free ricotta)

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (I use 8 oz. divided)

1 teaspoon flour

 Cook zucchini until tender, drain and set aside. Fry meat and onions until meat is brown and onions are tender; drain fat. Add next 8 ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered 10 minutes or until reduced to 2 cups. In small bowl slightly beat egg. Add cottage cheese, half of shredded cheese and flour. In (1 1/2-qt.) baking-roasting pan arrange half of the meat mixture. Top with half of the zucchini and all the cottage cheese mixture. Top with remaining meat and zucchini. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

 

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