Even just since last week, there are so many new crops “cropping” up; there are rumors and have even been brief sightings, of green peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, and tomatoes, although only in quantities large enough to tease. We’re still a few weeks out from including these items in your bags, but just the mention of tomatoes is enough to brighten my mood these days!
Eating in season is difficult for some people – many households are used to having tomatoes year round and broccoli and lettuce heads throughout the summer. In truth, tomatoes only ripen mid-summer, and crops like parsnips, sweet potatoes, and winter squash are planted in the spring and take all year to mature.
If you think about the summer like a plant, the first vegetables that are ready for harvest are the roots and the leaves. Carrots, beets, and radishes are roots. Lettuce, chard, cabbage, kale, and herbs are leaves. Then the plant matures and starts developing flower buds — broccoli! Then we start to get small fruit like peas, beans and summer squash. The next to mature are the big fruits: tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. Last thing to come is the REALLY big fruits, like melon and watermelon.
Some crops like the heat, like the crops in the nightshade family: peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes. Some families of crops like the cool seasons, either in the spring or the fall. The brassica family includes crops like cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens, brussel sprouts and turnips. The brassica family likes cool weather and gets bitter in the summer. Lettuce will grow in the summer, but it gets bitter and needs to be salted to be enjoyed.
We are not quite to the bountiful harvest of summer, but these late spring/early summer recipes might tempt you in the kitchen. Enjoy!
1 lb. green beans, trimmed, patted dry of any surface moisture or condensation
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 Tbsp. capers, drained, chopped
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Heat oil in a large skillet over high until shimmering.
Add green beans (the dryer they are, the less they will spatter when they hit the oil) and cook, covering skillet as needed if beans are spattering, until browned underneath, about 3 minutes.
Turn beans with tongs and redistribute so they brown evenly (don’t toss them since hot oil can easily slosh out of skillet if you try to show off). Continue to cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over and tender, about 5 minutes longer. Season with salt.
Add garlic, capers, and red pepper flakes. Cook, tossing occasionally, just until garlic turns golden, about 1 minute.
Transfer beans to a platter. Spoon caper-garlic mixture over and pour some oil over too; season with salt.
2 1/2 cups French lentils (also called Puy lentils)
About 1 dozen (1 large bunch) medium-small carrots, with their tops on
About 1 dozen (2 large bunches) medium-small beets
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (whatever you have on hand: basil, chives, or parsley)
1/2 cup chopped carrot tops
Grated zest of one organic lemon
1/2 cup feta cheese
For Eggless Aioli:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Fresh-squeezed juice of one large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp. salt
Remove the leafy tops from the carrots and beets. Reserve the carrot tops. (Beet greens can also be kept as they are extremely nutritious and delicious). Wash and scrub the carrots and beets, removing any soil, leaving their skins on. Place the whole carrots and beets in a large French oven or enamelled iron pot and mix in the 2 tbsp. olive oil, fully coating the vegetables in oil.
In a 375 F oven, roast the vegetables for about 30 to 45 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork. If you wish, once the beet are cool enough to handle, you can remove the skins from the beets by gently rubbing them off with your fingers.
Meanwhile, rinse the lentils and check them for small pebbles, then place them in a medium saucepan. Cover them with water and bring to a boil.
Simmer on medium heat, uncovered, for about 30 to 40 minutes, until tender but not falling apart or turning mushy. (Add water if necessary through the cooking). Drain the lentils and place them in a large shallow serving bowl.
In a blender or food processor, puree the garlic, lemon juice, and salt to make the aioli. Add the olive oil and puree until thick and opaque and no chunks of garlic remain. Pour this mixture over the lentils. Add the chopped carrot tops, chopped herbs, and grated lemon zest and toss it all together. Season with a bit of salt and pepper if you wish.
Place the roasted carrots and beets on top, then crumble the feta all around. Serve warm or cold.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the more traditional mayo-based potato salad, give this one a try!
Recipe from www.deliciouseveryday.com
600 g waxy potatoes (1 1/4 pounds)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 fat garlic clove minced
1/2 – 3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
2 spring onions finely sliced on an angle
1/4 cup dill roughly torn or chopped
Scrub the skins of the potatoes clean (I like to keep the skin on but if you prefer you can peel them). Dice the potatoes evenly and place in a saucepan of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender (the exact timing will depend on the size of the dice).
While the potatoes are cooking place the lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to combine.
When the potatoes are cooked drain the water and place in the bowl with the dressing and toss well to combine. Leave to cool.
Just before serving add the spring onions and dill and toss to combine.
This salad is best served at room temperature so that the flavors have a chance to shine. If you love lemons as much as I do lemon zest is also a great addition. Zest your lemon before using the juice in the salad. If you don’t have dill try Italian (flat leaf) parsley or mint.