sliced bell peppers

Sweet Pepper Bake

I’m always amazed at the end of season productivity of pepper plants and their vibrant hues as they reach peak ripeness.

Yet I’m not quite sure what we do with these beauties to highlight their greatness. Sure, stuffed peppers are delicious. But is that all we have in our repertoire to place peppers in the spotlight?

cooking bell peppers

Not any more. This sweet pepper bake is all about the peppers. It’s a creamy, tangy casserole chock full of tender bell peppers, onions and garlic baked in a  yogurt based custard to hold it all together. The result is a terrific filling for warm tortillas.

bell pepper casserole

Sweet Pepper Bake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6 servings

Sweet Pepper Bake

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 6 medium bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
  • a handful of chopped, fresh parsley
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onions and saute over medium heat until softened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the peppers, garlic, jalapeno, currants, salt, cumin, coriander, mustard and black pepper. Cook another 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender. Meanwhile, beat the eggs into the yogurt in a small bowl.
  4. When the peppers are tender, remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt mixture. Top with the cheese and place the pan in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes until the mixture has thickened and is bubbly. Top with parsley.
  5. Serve in warmed tortillas, topped with additional cheese, chopped tomato and a side of black beans.

Notes

Adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook

http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/sweet-pepper-bake/

 

 

tomato tart

Tomato & Caramelized Onion Tart

After a green bean canning fiasco earlier this summer I said I was done with canning for the year. But then the cooler weather came, along with a great deal on bulk tomatoes, and it didn’t take long for me to change my mind. So this past weekend I not only canned a few dozen pounds of crushed tomatoes, but also slow roasted and dried some as well.

local heirloom tomatoes

There are simpler ways to preserve tomatoes, though, such as freezing them whole and not having to go through the hassle of peeling and blanching. The same goes for peppers, too. Check out Radical Roots’ website for great tips on freezing. But until I get myself a chest freezer, that’s not the best option for me, as I can barely shut the freezer door as is.

But you could also just enjoy tomatoes now. It’s getting cold out, but a warm, flaky tart right out of the oven is a nice way to transition tomatoes into fall. If you have some heirloom tomatoes, they’ll make things especially attractive.

pie crust

You can use your favorite pie crust recipe or find a quality one from the store. If you’re making your own, all you need to remember is the ratio 3-2-1. A basic crust is made from 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter and 1 part water. Add a little salt and/or sugar for flavor.

pie dough with mustard

Cover the dough with Dijon mustard (a nice idea from David Lebovitz), top with a layer of sweet caramelized onions, plenty of cheese, then tomatoes and chopped fresh herbs. A drizzle of honey and balsamic vinegar add a nice touch to top it off.

pot of caralamelized onions

Caramelized onions make everything better, so make sure to cook them long enough to get some good color – at least 20 minutes, but up to 45 minutes to an hour.

cheese on tart

Crumble over the cheese – I like a sharp aged cheddar, but use what you like – Parmesan or goat would work well.

tomato tart with cheddar

Then the tomatoes, herbs, honey and balsamic. Just pop it in the oven at 425 for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is crispy, the tomatoes tender and cheese melted. Serve along with a green salad.

Tomato & Caramelized Onion Tart

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 onions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces pie dough (your favorite recipe, or store bought)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, sliced or chopped
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, basil or chives
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Slice the onions. Add to a medium pot with the olive oil set over medium-high heat. Cover and let cook about 25-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Onions should be golden and sweet.
  3. Line a half sheet pan (18x13”) with parchment paper. Roll the dough out over top to fit the pan.
  4. Spread the mustard over the dough, then spread over the caramelized onions, the cheese, then tomatoes. Sprinkle over the herbs, balsamic vinegar and honey, if using.
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes until the dough is cooked and tomatoes tender.
http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/tomato-caramelized-onion-tart/

corn and bacon saute

Corn and Bacon Sauté

Farm Fresh Connect

We kicked off the expansion of Farm Fresh Connect, our local, online farmers market, to the communities of Pittsford and Chittenden last week. We’re pumped to make local food more accessible in these two Vermont towns, both of which have limited shopping opportunities – particularly for locally grown and produced food. While the pickup of market orders happens at elementary schools in both towns, anyone in either community – whether they work or live nearby – is open to shopping on Farm Fresh Connect. Take a look at our brochure (Pittsford or Chittenden) for details.

As part of the promotion of Farm Fresh Connect, at Wednesday pick ups between 3 & 5pm, we’re offering tastings of dishes made with items found on the market. Last week, it was this simple  corn and bacon sauté.

Sweet corn and smoky bacon are just meant to be paired together, which is why I love to start a pot of corn chowder with the fat left behind after cooking bacon. I add in a little zucchini and jalapeno,  if inclined, but almost always include basil. Thyme would work nicely as well.

The result is an excellent side dish for encapsulating the fleeting tastes of summer, though I’ve had a whole bowl as my entire dinner, too.

Hope to see you at one of our market pick-ups!

Corn and Bacon Sauté

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings, as a side

Corn and Bacon Sauté

Ingredients

  • 1/4 lb bacon
  • 5 ears corn, husked
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons minced basil leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 small jalapeno (optional)

Instructions

  1. Chop the bacon into a small dice. In a pan over medium high heat, cook the bacon until crisp, watching closely to avoid burning. When crisp, use a slotted spoon to remove from the pan and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Remove the pan from the heat.
  2. Slice the kernels off the corn cobs. A good way to do this is to invert a small bowl inside of a larger bowl and stand the cob on the small bowl. As you slice, the kernels will fall into the large bowl. Then, chop the onion and zucchini into a small dice. If using the jalapeno, remove the seeds and chop as well.
  3. Return the pan with the bacon grease to the heat and add the corn, onion, zucchini and optional jalapeno. Cook 8-10 minutes until the pan is dry and vegetables tender.
http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/corn-and-bacon-saute/

cucumber mint soup with tomato and onion

Chilled Cucumber Mint Soup with a Quick Salsa

fresh cucumbers

As with the start of every September in Vermont, the warm days of summer are quickly transitioning into cool fall breezes. But before summer is completely behind us, let’s take the time to enjoy a refreshing bowl of chilled soup.

Last week I found myself with a small stockpile of the last of my garden’s cucumbers. Some were a little overripe, while others were small and not the most attractive. To say the least, they were imperfect and that made them a poor choice for pickles.

deseeding cucumbers
Cucumbers are easy to seed with the use of a spoon.

What does one do with so many cucumbers, if not make pickles? They don’t store for long and they don’t freeze. We don’t really cook them here either. People think having too much zucchini is a problem, but at least you have options there. Cucumbers on the other hand, need some creativity and quick.

my favorite yogurt

Who knew that pureeing cucumbers in the food processor with yogurt and herbs leads to one fast, tasty soup? Usually chilled soups – aside from strawberry – don’t do much for me. But I think it was the balance of mint and jalapeno that won me over with this one. That, and my favorite Greek yogurt from Green Mountain Creamery, perhaps. It adds a hefty amount of protein and makes this soup a reasonable meal, at least from a nutritional perspective. From a filling perspective, you might want to supplement with a slice of bread.

cucumber and mint in food processor

You should consider the recipe below as a base. Puree it together, taste, then take it wherever you want to go. I increased the mint, sugar and jalapeno quite a bit, but realize that’s not everyone’s taste.

When it’s to your liking, be sure to top with plenty of the simple salsa then take your bowl and head out to bask in the last of the warm summer sun.

cucumber mint soup with tomato and onion

Chilled Cucumber Mint Soup with a Quick Salsa

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • For the soup:
  • 2 lbs cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded
  • mint leaves, about 4 sprigs worth
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup water, as needed
  • For the salsa:
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 lb tomatoes, chopped
  • A small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • A splash of lemon or lime juice

Instructions

  1. Combine the peeled and seeded cucumbers in a food processor with the yogurt, garlic, jalapeno, mint leaves, sugar and salt. Pulse until smooth, adding in water as or if needed. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking with additional salt, sugar, mint, jalapeno or garlic, as needed.
  2. In a small bowl make the salsa by tossing the chopped tomato, onion and parsley with the citrus juice. Season with salt to your liking.
  3. Serve the cucumber soup in bowls topped with with the salsa.
http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/chilled-cucumber-mint-soup-with-tomato-and-onion/

 

meatballs ready to bake

Parmesan Herb Meatballs

This summer has been crazy. Crazy in a good way, certainly. Between RAFFL, my column in the Reader, trying to maintain my garden, and joining two community boards and respective committees of interest, it’s been just a little hectic. And then once in awhile an opportunity presents itself to relax or do something fun. I mean, more fun than everything I already do, of course.  That said, I’m very much looking forward to an unplanned getaway to Montreal this weekend.

Yet unless I want to eat at 10pm every night, I realized earlier this summer that I needed to do some planning ahead. These meatballs were one tactic. Last month, I baked up a large batch and then popped them in the freezer for a quick protein addition for a variety of meals.
bunch of fresh basil

I used half ground beef and half ground sausage, which is not entirely the meatball norm, but what I think really makes these stand out is the large amount of fresh herbs.

Basil, parsley and oregano were my choice at the time. Thyme, sage, rosemary, fennel and even mint, could all be interesting though. You might just need to adjust the amount of herbs depending on what you go with. The amount I suggest in the recipe is based on larger leafy herbs like parsley and basil. Use more or less, to your liking.

sauteing onions

I started by sauteing some onion with garlic and red pepper flakes.

meatball mix

Then mixed that together with the ground meat, chopped herbs, plenty of grated Parmesan, an egg and breadcrumbs. Don’t be fooled by the spoon pictured here, meatballs are meant to be mixed and formed by hand. Just wash your hands well before and after handling the meat to avoid contaminating anything. Coating your hands in a little oil before rolling the meatballs could help prevent the meat from sticking to you.

meatballs ready to bake

I rolled them out just larger than the size of golf balls and browned them in the oven. Once cooled, I slid the whole tray into the freezer. Freezing them separately at first, then transporting them to a freezer bag ensured they didn’t all stick together and that I could easily take just a few out as needed. After I take them out of the freezer, I make sure to cook finish cooking them through, as I was only looking to brown them at first.

herbed meatballs

How do I use the meatballs? If I remember, I transfer a few from the freezer to the fridge earlier in the day to defrost. A few times, I’ve braised a few in a little broth, thickened the broth to make a sauce, and served them with vegetables and a grain. Or, I’ve gone the traditional route and simmered them in tomato sauce to toss with pasta. I’m craving a meatball sandwich right now, so maybe that’s my next use. No matter what, I’ve saved myself some time trying to put together a balanced meal.

Parmesan Herb Meatballs

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 20 - 25 meatballs

Parmesan Herb Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh chopped herbs, such as parsley, basil, mint and oregano
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup bread, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • A splash of milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the garlic, red pepper flakes and onion. Saute until translucent, about 8 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Reserve the pan.
  3. In a large bowl combine the meat, egg, herbs, Parmesan, bread, milk, salt and pepper. Use your hands to gently, but thoroughly, combine it all together. It should be very moist. If not, add just a tiny bit more milk. Return your pan to the stove and place a small piece of the meat mixture in the pan to cook through. Taste and adjust the meat seasoning, as needed.
  4. Roll pieces of the meat into balls, just slightly larger than the size of a golf ball. Space them out on a baking sheet. If it's lined with parchment paper, all the better. You'll need at least two sheets. Place the sheets in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Let the pans cool, then place in the freezer until frozen through. You could place them on a large plate or platter, if that works better for you. When frozen, transfer the meatballs to freezer bags, seal, and use within 3 months for best quality. When ready to use, ensure that the meatballs are heated well and cooked through.
http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/parmesan-herb-meatballs/

IMG_0041

Tomato Basil Chutney

tomato basil chutneyHave you ever noticed that the right condiment or sauce can transform an average dish into a great dish? That’s the case with this tomato chutney. The concept of chutney, similar to relish and savory jam, derives from India where chutneys are made of fruit, spices and vinegar for preservation.chutney cookingThey can be either sweet or hot but are almost always savory. This tomato chutney leans toward the sweet side while the ginger provides just a faint sense of spice. Use this recipe as a guide then try increasing the amount of ginger or adding a little heat with hot sauce, cayenne or chili powder. I like the earthiness of the basil when added in just towards the end of simmering. Basil and tomatoes embody the taste of summer for me.edc slider zuke cakesWhat does one do with chutney? You can serve it like they do in India – with curry – or with cheese and crackers, spoon some over a piece of meat, use it in place of ketchup, or mix into cream cheese, mayo, or yogurt to create a spread. I served this chutney with zucchini chard pancakes and it provided some of the expected sweetness you’d often receive from maple syrup. Without it, the pancakes would be pretty average and incomplete. Together, they hit on all the right notes. 

Tomato Basil Chutney

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: about 1 cup chutney

Tomato Basil Chutney

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4-5 large basil leaves, shredded
http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/tomato-basil-chutney/

cherry tomatoessliced cherry tomatoes

Wash, slice and destem your tomatoes. I used cherry, but any kind will do. Cherry are just slightly less work, I think, as you can just slice them in half. We’re leaving on the skins and seeds here for texture.

In a pot, combine the tomatoes with the onion and garlic. Let this cook down, about 8 minutes. Then add in the flavorings – the salt, ginger, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Continue simmering over low heat until everything has broken down and started to form a sauce. If you find you have too much liquid, continue simmering another few minutes. Stir in the basil right at towards the end of cooking, then adjust the seasoning as you like and serve either warm or at room temp.

IMG_0107

Zucchini Chard Cakes

stack of zucchini pancakes

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve shared this zucchini chard cake recipe with folks this summer. I was sure that as soon as I mentioned zucchini I would be greeted with a sigh and eyeroll.

“No more zucchini!” they’d say. “We’ve had enough!”

so much zucchini

Because, let’s be honest, each summer we all have more than enough of the ubiquitous green squash. Even if we don’t, we probably know someone looking to give away a few dozen or so. But to my surprise, as I traveled around making zucchini cake after zucchini cake, I didn’t get one complaint. In fact, people were enthusiastic to find another way to put it to use.

I’m always happy to be proven wrong. Really. That’s why this became my go to dish (along with a complementary tomato basil chutney) for my cooking demos and local food tastings. Apparently we haven’t reached peak zucchini. Word is still out on kale, though.

rainbow swiss chard

These cakes use the classic technique of vegetable hiding. Zucchini doesn’t have a strong flavor all on its own and when you mix it into what is more or less a standard pancake recipe, you hardly can tell it’s there at all. So much so, that you can also get away with chopping up even more healthy green stuff – chard and parsley – and mixing it in as well. Simply avoid those fruitless debates with the picky eaters in your life (note: none of mine happen to be kids) and just go ahead and serve these anyway. Before they can tell you how much they don’t like these vegetables, they’ll be happily and unknowingly eating them anyway. Call me cruel, but this is one of my great pleasures in life.

Zucchini Chard Cakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 10 - 4 inch pancakes

Zucchini Chard Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb zucchini
  • 1/2 onion
  • small bunch of Swiss chard leaves
  • small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • splash of milk
  • 2 Tbsp oil + some for the pan
http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/zucchini-chard-cakes/

grated zucchini

We’re going to need to shred the zucchini. You can do this quite easily with a box grater, or if you’re intending to shred a large quantity, I’d opt for the food processor like I did here. If not using all of the zucchini at once, it does freeze nicely.

Next, grate the onion. I prefer to grate the onion instead of chop it, as it will blend better into the pancakes.

swiss chard stems

Remove the stems from the chard and save for another purpose. Chopped and tossed into a stir fry, perhaps? Then chop the leaves.

Combine the egg, salt, and flour in a bowl. Add in the zucchini, chard, onion, garlic and parsley and stir to form a thick batter. Add just a splash of milk and the oil to form a more workable, pourable batter.

zucchini pancakes

Heat your skillet and lightly coat it with oil when hot. Preheat the oven to 200F. Pour 1/4 cup spoonfuls of batter onto the hot skillet and cook 2-3 minutes per side, until browned. Flip and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer the cakes to the oven to keep warm while you cook the remainder of the pancakes.

Serve as a side, topped with tomato chutney, or as a light summer dinner with a side of greens.

zucchini kale lasagna

Kale Zucchini Lasagna

A special post by RAFFL’s summer intern, Anna Flinchbaugh.

A couple of weekends ago, a friend and I took a trip down to New York City for a music festival. While that sounds like a pretty simple goal, our travel plans were complicated by a slew of things that made it feel much more like an epic adventure than a little pop down to the city. For one thing, my friend is…well, not exactly a city slicker. Middlebury is the largest place she’s ever lived and she’d never been to New York before – very much by choice. The promise of a day of DIY music had proven to be a strong enough lure to overcome her aversion, but I was more than a little nervous about being a good guide; my own knowledge of New York is spotty at best and my sense of direction is laughably poor. Then, just as we were all psyched for the trip, our place to stay fell through. After a lot of frantic and fruitless phone calls, we accepted that we would have to turn our planned weekend into a one day trip. It was going to be a lot of driving, but it would be worth it. We were fierce, determined, and ready to dance our bejeezers off.

And so we set to logistics, the most crucial being – naturally – food. My friend is severely gluten-allergic, so this required a bit of strategic planning. She ticked off cuisines: South Asian food was usually workable, Mexican food was awesome, American food was hit and miss, and Italian….not a chance. Structured around pasta and bread, at least in its American interpretation, the cheesy goodness of Italian food had long ago been written out of my friend’s dietary repertoire. Which strikes me as pretty darn sad, to be honest. IMG_0039 Enter this lasagna. It replaces the noodles that usually structure the layered dish with thinly sliced planes of zucchini. It’s totally gluten-free and totally delicious. It’s a fun take on an old favorite, even for those without dietary restrictions. While I usually find lasagna to be such a comfort food that it ends up relegated to snowy times, the slightly al dente zucchini slices give this version a freshness that makes it feel completely appropriate for summer. It’s also a great way to use up zucchini when your garden is overflowing and you can’t stand one more loaf of zucchini bread.  When we made it for the Downtown Farmers Market last Tuesday, we stacked our lasagna with sautéed kale, tomato sauce, and homemade ricotta, but you could use any combination of veggies that you have in abundance; one visitor to the market even suggested replacing the zucchini noodles with bright slices of bell peppers. IMG_0014 With a few minor adjustments, the assembly on this lasagna is pretty standard. After slicing the zucchini – a mandolin slicer would be useful, but isn’t essential – lay it out on paper-towel lined cookie sheets and sprinkle with salt; this helps to draw out excess water and keep your lasagna from getting soggy. To help distribute the kale evenly, we combined it with our ricotta mixture before layering, but you can adapt that depending on the other veggies you choose.

This recipe was adapted from the lovely Tri to Cook.

Kale Zucchini Lasagna

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 very large (or 2 regular) zucchini
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and destemmed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 24 oz jar tomato sauce (may not use all)
  • parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Cut the ends off of your zucchini, then slice lengthwise into 1/4 in "noodles." Arrange slices on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Chop the kale into small pieces; add to the pan and saute for 5 min. Add garlic and cook until kale begins to wilt. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Mix together ricotta, egg, garlic powder, basil, and oregano in a large bowl. Stir in the cooled kale.
  5. Blot the zucchini with paper towels to remove moisture drawn out by the salt.
  6. Cover the bottom of a 9 in pan with a thin layer of sauce. Begin layering the lasagna, alternating zucchini slices, ricotta mixture, and tomato sauce.
  7. Bake, covered with foil, for 35 min. Remove foil, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and cook for an additional 5-10 min, or until cheese is bubbly and begins to brown.
  8. Allow to cool for 5-10 min before cutting. Serve topped with fresh basil.
http://www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/everydaychef_blog/kale-zucchini-lasagna/

A Program of RAFFL