While I stood over my favorite orange cutting board this morning, slashing away at a green bell pepper with my trusty four inch santoku knife, J noted that green bell peppers are an unusual presence in our kitchen. It's true. I never buy green bell peppers. I hate them. They taste too...green and grassy...that's the best I can describe them. Why were these bell peppers in my kitchen, let alone being hacked apart for use in a recipe? Blame the CSA. J and I had talked about joining Community Supported Agriculture for years, but this year I grabbed the bull by the horns and signed us up. We've been getting lots and lots of our favorite produce all summer and we've been challenged to try new things or retry foods we have written off in the past (must I remind you about the beets? - let's not go there - shudder!).
Last week we brought home two big green bell peppers as part of our share. If this had happened in June, when I was new to the CSA mindset, I would have freaked out trying to find a way to use them. I would have searched all of my favorite food blogs and recipe sights for green bell pepper recipes. I would have been crazed. Three months into cooking out of a CSA basket, I'm able to better handle a strange/rogue/odd ingredient. The second I saw the peppers, I knew it was time for me to make red beans and rice - without a can. I've always used canned red beans that I've doctored up with some onion and garlic - and I've been happy with that. But I had these green bell peppers to use up and it was time to make red beans from scratch. I probably never would have attempted this recipe in the past because (a) I was satisfied with the canned beans - gotta love Blue Runner - and (b) I never would purchase the green bell peppers necessary for the recipe. So, thank you, Garden of Eve CSA, for sending me home with green bell peppers last week. These fourteen weeks of new/strange/challenging/odd ingredients has pushed my cooking into many new areas.
So, week fourteen's haul was a big one. Let's take a look.
Within an hour of getting home from the pickup, the basil and arugula had been turned into pesto. Some of the arugula pesto hit the freezer and the rest was spread onto grilled bread for an amazing sanwich featuring the heirloom tomatoes and some fresh mozzarella. The basil pesto is waiting in the fridge for a quick pasta dinner later this week when I get home late from setting up my classroom. This will be a practice run for my school-year-dinner-in-twenty-mintues plan I've been working on all summer. I'm contemplating tossing the sungold cherry tomatoes into a hot skillet and giving them a quick saute with garlic and olive oil to serve on the side of the pasta. Mmm...
The lettuce got processed right away and joined forces with slices of a homegrown heirloom tomato and some soy bacon for the best vegetarian BLT ever. I grilled up thick slices of whole wheat bread and slathered them with some Baconnaise (yes, it's vegetarian) before layering on the B, L, and T. J and I were two very happy campers with these sandwiches.
While I was processing produce (in record time I should mention), I washed and dried the mesclun and the baby bok choi. They're tucked away in my refrigerator waiting for salad and stir fry inspiration to strike.
I cooked down the tomatoes into my first batch of Mexican rice with some veggie stock, hot peppers from the green market, and plenty of cumin. This might make it's own post because it was so easy and so tasty.
The watermelon was a surprise as part of the vegetable share. It's so small and cute.
I can't wait to eat it, but I don't want to be the one to hack it open - it's just too adorable. J will have to be the watermelon mauler in this house.
I also brought home what was minimally described as a "sweet yellow melon."
I have no idea what this melon is, but it's huge and, I confess, I'm rather intimidated by it. I'm tossing it into the refrigerator tonight and cutting it up for dessert. J loves any and all melon, so I'm sure he's going to like it. I stashed a few of the ripe nectarines in the fridge earlier today just in case the melon and I don't get along.
I used a few eggs for a breakfast of huevos rancheros on Sunday morning. This is becoming a bit of a tradition around here. I whipped up some black bean puree (with lots of garlic and hot peppers) and toasted up some corn tortillas in the oven (I love them fried, but my waistline doesn't) and spooned on lots of homemade salsa.
Mixing the yolk with the salsa and beans and scooping all of it up with the crispy tortilla is perhaps one of the most satisfying culinary experiences I've ever had. This could very well be my most favorite breakfast ever. J and I had given up on huevos rancheros as a breakfast a while back, but our first CSA bundle of cilantro pushed us into the world of homemade salsa and an overabundance of homemade salsa pushed us back into the world of huevos rancheros. The amazing free-range organic eggs pushed us, too, because you've got to have a great recipe when you've got incredible eggs. Thanks again, CSA, for pushing us out of our routines and into loads of fun new recipes.