CSA (9/10/2015): What abundance looks like

 September 11, 2015

celeriacIt’s been a good week for us out at the farm. The unseasonable heat made it a bit difficult to work at a time when we’re typically starting to dust off our flannel shirts. But the tomatoes and eggplants have little to complain about. We took in over 500 lbs. in tomatoes this week, and nearly a third of that in eggplant. And the peppers, green so long I was beginning to wonder if they’d ever ripen, are starting to do their thing as well.

We have a few varieties in circulation right now and they have some particular features worth pointing out.

If your share came with peppers in a bag, you got one of two varieties.

  • shishitoJapanese shishitos are wrinkly with a super thin skin. These are the typical go-to peppers for tempura and stir fry, but in these parts it’s common to roast them whole on a hot skillet with a touch of olive oil until they just blister, then toss with sea salt.
  • nardello2The other variety is my personal favorite, the Jimmy Nardello Italian frying pepper, a long, slender and slightly curled fruit that is best sauteed over low heat until it softens. With onion and garlic, this makes a perfect base for virtually any dish you want to prepare.

The rest are regular sweet peppers that are equally great roasted or in salad. Though they may not look like it, all our peppers are sweet, though exactly how sweet depends on how ripe they are. If yours have only a little splash of color (and you can resist), leave them on the counter for a day or two and watch the color spread and the sweetness spike. Though be careful not to leave them too long or their skins will soften and lose that pepper crunch.

Also this week is what may be my absolute favorite thing we grow. Celeriac is a cultivar of the celery plant beloved for its richly flavored roots. It’s gnarled and ugly, with a subtle (yet intense!) flavor, takes forever to grow and needs tons of water, but I simply love it.

Celeriac is a spectacular flavor enhancer. The simplest way to use is it is to trim the dangly roots, clean well, cut off the tops, cube it and throw it in a soup or stew. The tops are great for soups and stocks too. It also makes a delicious puree that is a great topper for grilled fish or meat, or just eaten on its own. And if warm foods aren’t exciting you this time of year, celeriac keeps well — just take the tops off and wrap in plastic and it should keep in the fridge for several weeks. Celeriac works great with the winter squash and potatoes we’ll start bringing in the next few weeks.