Thursday, August 28, 2008

Week 13; August 27, 2008

It hasn’t always felt like it, but summer is still here. Here’s what was in this week’s share:

2 bunches of carrots
½ pound salad mix
1 ½ pound shell beans
1 cucumber
1 to 2 eggplants, depending on size
6 tomatoes
1 large onion
1 bulb of garlic
1 bunch of parsley
1 bunch of basil
1 pound of purple beans (unfortunately, these will lose their regal color once cooked; serve fresh with a green goddess dressing or hummus?!)
6 ears of sweet corn

The corn was at its peak of maturity, which is when the bugs love it. So we did our best to find ears that weren’t buggy. That would explain why a lot of the husk was peeled back or off. If you haven’t already eaten it, it holds best wrapped in a damp towel in a zipper-lock bag in the produce drawer of your refrigerator.

The lima-like beans with the mottling on the pods are fresh shell beans. We love these. Cook them just like you would a dried bean. Because they’re fresh, however, they shouldn’t need quite as much time to cook.

To cook shell beans: Remove the beans from their pods. Place them in a pot of water with aromatics, such as onion, peppercorns and a bay leaf (I’ll also throw in carrot trimmings if they’re kicking around). Bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer until they are tender. Stir occasionally. Depending on the age of the bean, the amount of time needed to cook varies. I recommend tasting beginning after about 20 minutes. We have hard water, so it can take twice that time in my kitchen. I’m going to try adding a little baking soda to the water this year to soften it and, hopefully, speed things along. I know that helps when cooking dried beans.

You can use them with your corn to make succotash. They’re also great in pasta. Last night we caramelized some onion, browned some diced eggplant in extra-virgin olive oil, and then simmered them briefly with chopped tomatoes, more extra-virgin olive oil and minced garlic. Chopped basil was added in at the end. It was great as is, but the beans would have been a nice addition and source of protein. And the good news is that all those ingredients are in this week’s share.

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