I have been delighted with the cooler evening temperatures these past several mornings. It has been good sleeping weather. Goldenrod and mountain-ash berries are offering us a sample of colors to come. At the end of the week we’ll change the angle of the solar panels on the farm to meet the sun at its lower arc across the fields.
Stepping into a drug store reminds me that other people are buying college-ruled notebooks, erasable pens and sets of binder inserts. I’ve thought about making a “winter is coming” list, even for my fairly low-maintenance city life. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is to vacuum the beach and farm out of my car. I really do need to do that.
But what am I saying!? It’s August and there is broccoli to pick as far as the eye can see, sun flowers blooming and Kate, our one student crew member, is still full time for the week. We’ll be picking green beans today for the first time too. I think green beans are my favorite thing to harvest. It slows me down (I’m still pretty fast) and gets me to look and feel more than I do for some other harvesting.
As a kid I grew up on frozen or canned green beans. I never liked them, but the frozen ones were by far preferable to canned. I don’t remember now if it was a pole-bean or a pea pod, but I distinctly remember having my first fresh whichever-it-was from my great Aunt Barb and Uncle Burt’s garden. It was a game changer. A few years later my mom’s friend was watching my sister and I for an overnight and they had a garden with beans too. After having put away a handful or more, the boy in the family informed me I wasn’t supposed to pick them yet. I felt a little sheepish, but he was way, way younger than I (a year), so what did he know?
The first farm I worked on grew two beds of pole beans, trellised side by side. They grew super tall, probably 8 feet. I loved picking in between the rows: being in a leguminous tunnel full of wasps, bees and beans. The hum of life and occasional snack out of my basket made it my favorite daily ritual.
On the Food Farm I love the conversations I end up having while picking green beans. It tends to be an all hands on deck project, even Janaki comes out and harvests with us, so it has a nice feel to me. And, I think it makes them taste better. Hopefully you think so too.
For the farm crew,
August 26 you get a 2 for the price of 1 farm party! (read – FREE!)
In your share this week:
- Green beans
- Lettuce mix
- Yellow onions
- Carmen (sweet) red peppers
- Hot wax peppers
- Red-gold potatoes
Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans
2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes, quartered
1/2 pound green beans, cut into one-inch segments
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 bunches of basil (about one ounce each)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons (or more to taste) mild vinegar, such as champagne, white wine or a white balsamic
1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Parmesan cheese to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add beans; cook four minutes longer. Drain well and let cool, then transfer potatoes and beans to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, discard the stems from the basil and wash and dry the leaves. Puree them in a food processor with garlic, drizzling in enough olive oil that it gets saucy. Season the pesto with salt and pepper. [Alternately, you can swap this step with one cup of prepared pesto, but seriously, I think you’ll be missing out.]
Toss the beans and potatoes with pesto. Stir in vinegar, green onions, pine nuts and season with salt, pepper and/or additional vinegar to taste. Finally, shave some wide flecks of Parmesan over the salad with a vegetable peeler.
Serve immediately, or make this up to two hours in advance. It can be stored at room temperature.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
4 pounds tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 to 3 small cloves of garlic
1/2 medium carrot
1/2 stalk of celery
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
Slivers of fresh basil, to finish
Peel your tomatoes: Bring a pot of water to boil. Blanche the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 to 30 seconds, then either rinse under cold water or shock in an ice water bath. Peeling the tomatoes should now be a cinch. If one gives you trouble, toss it back in the boiling water for another 10 seconds until the skin loosens up. Discard the skins (or get crafty with them).
Finish preparing your tomatoes: If using plum tomatoes, halve each lengthwise. If using beefsteak or another round variety, quarter them. Squeeze the seeds out over a strainer over a bowl and reserve the juices. (You can discard the seeds, or get crafty with them.) Either coarsely chop you tomatoes on a cutting board or use a potato masher to do so in your pot, as you cook them in a bit.
Prepare your vegetables: I finely chop my onion, and mince my carrot, celery and garlic.
Cook your sauce: Heat your olive oil in a large pot over meduim. Cook your onions, carrots, celery and garlic, if you’re using them, until they just start to take on a little color, about 10 minutes. I really like to concentrate their flavor as much as possible. Add your tomatoes and bring to a simmer, lowering the heat to medium-low to keep it at a gentle simmer. If you haven’t chopped them yet, use a potato masher to break them up as you cook them. Simmer your sauce, stirring occasionally. At 30 minutes, you’ll have a fine pot of tomato sauce, but at 45 minutes, you might just find tomato sauce nirvana: more caramelized flavors, more harmonized texture.
If your sauce seems to be getting thicker than you want it to be, add back the reserved tomato juice as need. If your sauce is too lumpy for your taste, use an immersion blender to break it down to your desired texture. (“Blasphemy!” some will say, but they’re not in the kitchen with you. So there.) Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and more to taste. I like somewhere between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon for 4 pounds of tomatoes. Scatter fresh basil over the pot before serving. Taste once more. Swear you’ll never buy jarred sauce again.