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summer june - september

Arugula Arugula is a green that I had never even touched before I joined the CSA but my first time out there, I was told I had to try it (which I ended up trying three different varieties.) Who knew that one family of greens could have such diverse flavors.  There was a variety that was slightly earthy and sweet while another variety was so spicy that it almost brought tears to my eyes.   Each type of arugula brings a special flavor to the dish/salad it is used in.  I highly suggest doing a sampling if at all possible since the flavors to vary so much. Arugula is great in both cooked and raw dishes.  Certain varieties are mellow enough that the arugula can take the place of spinach in some dishes.  To freeze arugula, follow the same principle as other greens: blanch for two minutes, ice bath, pat excess moisture off, and place in an air-tight freezer safe container.  I find frozen arugula works great in stir-fries. ARUGULA ALMOND PESTO 18

Beets Beets are something that has slowly grown on me since I started with the CSA. While they can be a pain to peel (and leave redness everywhere), beets hold a delicious earthy flavor that is not to be missed.  My favorite so far has been adding beets to a chocolate cake.  The beets brought out an extra earthiness in the chocolate that made the cake delicious.   Now that I’m learning to like beets, I look forward to trying out new recipes this summer! GRILLED BEET AND HUMMUS STUFFED PITA 19

Black Raspeberries Yes, there are raspberries and there are blackberries but one of my favorite treat comes in the form of black raspberries. While these grow wild in Illinois, you can sometimes find them in the grocery store.  I think the black raspberry has a bit more distinctive and sweeter flavor the their red counterpart.  Ever summer it’s a battle with the neighbors to see who gets to the bushes first. Similar to the other berries, these store great in the freezer.  Toss with a little lime juice, lay out on a baking tray, freeze, and then place in a freezer safe container. I don’t have many recipes for black raspberries, for the most part I like eating them with yogurt, on pancakes, or by themselves. BLACK RASPBERRY AND VANILLA BEAN ICE CREAM 20

Blueberries Blueberries may be the worst thing for me to try and harvest when I am out to the CSA and usually by the time I’m done, I look like the girl from Willy Wonka. It’s a wonder any make it home at all. Blueberries are similar to strawberries in that when you buy them local, they are juicy and have a beautiful color through the  entire berry whereas grocery store produce can be often dry and tasteless.   Blueberries may be one of the easiest items to freeze.   Simply spread them out on a baking tray, freeze, and then scoop in to a freezer safe container.   There they will sit for months to come, waiting for a steamy bowl of oatmeal in the cold winter months.  Blueberries also make for excellent jams and canning! BLUEBERRIES ‘N’ CREAM AMARANTH PORRIDGE 22

Broccoli During the summer months, I tend to shy away from broccoli. Don’t get me wrong, I love it.  However, I find that I’ve eaten broccoli for so long now that I feel my cooking should be reserved for more “interesting” produce.  However, that doesn’t mean that once broccoli is out of season, I start craving it.  So, I started saving it for later uses (which include some delicious soup and noodle bowls during the winter months!) Freezing broccoli takes a couple of steps.  First you need to cut the broccoli in to florets and soak in a cold salt water bath for 10 minutes.  Next, quickly rinse and blanch, following closely with an ice bath.  Pat dry and throw into a freezer safe container. VEGGIE FRIED RICE 23

Cabbage I love using cabbage for a bit of bulk to spring rolls, potstickers, or stir fries. Cabbage also is great for salads, slaws, and even stuffing.   A large head of cabbage can make a few meals and is abundant during the summer months.   Just make sure to remove the core from the cabbage before using. While cabbage can keep in the basement or root cellar, it is also a great thing to freeze.   Remove the core, cut in to strips, and blanch for 2-3 minutes.   Remove, pat dry, and place in a freezer safe container.  You then have a great addition to stir fries during the cooler months!  Cabbage comes in red (which is more purple) and green, both of which hold great nutrients. QUINOA ASIAN SLAW 24

Cauliflower Cauliflower is the one surprising produce to which I look forward. The perfect, slightly smokey taste of roasted cauliflower is up there as one of my favorite foods.   Cauliflower also works well to bulk up a vegetarian meal or as a perfect, simple side to any main dish.  Whenever I get a head of cauliflower, I always break it down to have as a quick snack to grab when I’m running through the house (often accompanied by some homemade ranch!) Cauliflower takes a bit of extra effort to freeze but is well worth it.   To freeze, cut fresh cauliflower into florets and soak in a cold salt water bath for 10 minutes.  Drain, rinse, and transfer to boiling water to blanch.   Blanch for 2-3 minutes and remove to an ice bath.   From there, toss in a freezer safe container.   Frozen cauliflower is perfect for hearty stews and stir fries! BAKED CAULIFLOWER BITES 25

Cherries Even though fresh foods wasn’t a primary staple in my family when I was a child, we did have a garden and we had a couple fruit trees. My tree was the cherry tree, and I loved seeing the flowers and then the fruit that followed shortly after.  You can find both sweet and tart cherries and I recommend that you figure out which variety would best suit your recipe.  I also recommend buying a cherry pitter.   Not only does this contain the mess but it also allows you to keep more of the cherry. To freeze, pit cherries and toss with a bit of lemon juice, spread out on a baking tray, and freeze.  Once cherries are frozen, toss in a freezer safe bag or container.   I also love to dry out fruit to use in granola.  This can be done with a dehydrator or you can simply use your oven.  CHERRY MAPLE CRISP 26

Cucumbers Cucumbers are lumped in with the vegetable category, but they are so light and juicy that I often consider them a fruit. There are different varieties such as the Garden Cucumber (medium size, green color- what you would find in the grocery store), English cucumbers (in picture) are longer, skinnier, and tend to have a darker green color. You will occasionally see lemon cucumbers as well, which are short, yellow cucumbers. Cucumbers aren’t usually frozen. My family always makes pickles out of the garden cucumber variety.  I have a recipe for a simple pickled cucumber recipe but almost every summer, my family spends a morning making our “family pickle recipe” which can be traced back to the confederates in the Civil War. I encourage you too look around for different pickle recipes, on top of all the great recipes out there for cucumbers. BREAD AND BUTTER PICKLES 27

Fava Beans Fava beans are a gem that pops up during the summer. They are a type of broad bean that is not dried out (like other beans) and is eaten while it’s still green.   Fava beans have a creamy, buttery taste that make them an excellent addition to any summer meal.   Plus, the large pods make for easy shelling and storage. To freeze fava beans, shell, blanch for 1-2 minutes, plunge in to an ice bath, pat dry, and then place in a freezer safe container.  These beans make another great addition to stews and even rice dishes. SUMMERY RICE AND FAVA BEANS 28

Peaches If asked what my favorite raw fruit is, peaches would not be near the top. I didn’t really eat peaches growing up and the whole “fuzzy” outside kind of turned me off.  It wasn’t until I started hitting up the farmers’ market that I realized what a great resource peaches can be, especially when cooked.  They take on a life of their own when sautéed with a bit of butter and cinnamon.  Even more, they make for delicious pizza toppings and grilled-cheese partners. I have to be honest in saying that I don’t really keep peaches around. Once peaches are out of season, I let them go until they come again next year, but they can be frozen or canned.   PEACH COBBLER 29

Peppers Peppers are up there with tomatoes for my favorite summer produce; the varieties that grow never cease to amaze me. My one main suggestion about peppers: make sure you know what you are getting and know the heat level (Scoville Scale) as some peppers can be extremely hot while others have a mild sweet taste. Obviously, the green peppers you get from the store have a very low score while habañeros are higher. I usually just toss whole peppers in a freezer safe container and pull them out as needed.  However, you may choose to remove the stems and seeds before freezing.  You can also blanch for 2 minutes, followed by an ice bath, and towel dry to make packing a little easier.   If I find myself with an abundance of red sweet peppers, I will give them a quick roast and freeze the roasted red peppers for later use. SWEET CORN AND GOAT CHEESE STUFFED PEPPERS 30

Raspberries Whenever I think of summer berries, I always think of children sticking raspberries on their fingers and eating them off one by one, like they are the best tasting thing ever (because really, the are.) Ripe summer raspberries have a sweetness to them that can’t be found in their store counterpart.  Similar to blueberries, I usually don’t end up with enough to even make a recipe because I eat them all before getting out of the car.  If I do ever have them around, they make their way in to oatmeal or on top of pancakes. To freeze, simply lay them out on a baking tray, freeze, and then toss in a freezer safe bag.   Use like you would frozen blueberries and frozen strawberries.   Raspberries also make a delightful summer jam. THREE-GRAIN BREAKFAST BAKE 31

Summer Squash Whenever I here “squash” my mind always jumps to the hard-shelled squash of winter. However, summer has some magnificent squash that in a way are slightly easier.  Most of the summer squash have thin enough skins that no peeling is required, just simply dice and add to your favorite meal.  For the most part, summer squash have a sweet taste that is really brought out when roasting.  These squash also make great companions with the grill!   Much like zucchini, summer squash is best frozen in either cubes or shredded.  Blanch for two minutes, ice bath, pat dry, and place in a freezer safe container.   Occasionally, after blanching, I will give the squash a quick puree and freeze it that way.  This creates the perfect creamy addition to soups in the fall. SUMMER SQUASH SOUP 32

Sweet Corn Since I currently live in Illinois, I really feel like no list would be complete without summer sweet corn. In the hot, humid months of July, sweet corn becomes the number one topic of conversation, even topping gas prices.   Everyone is on the look-out for the farmer’s with their truck beds full of sweet corn. It’s delicious, it’s sweet, it’s the quintessential summer food. Sweet corn also freezes really well.   Because corn continues to ripen and break down after it’s picked, it is best to blanch the corn for roughly 5 minutes, ice bath it, cut of the kernels, and then place in a freezer safe container.  While you can also blanch and freeze the ears whole, I find the corn takes up too much space and I’m usually using corn in something rather than a whole ear. CORN CILANTRO CAKES WITH ROASTED ZUCCHINI SALSA 33

Tomatoes For me, tomatoes are the highlight of the summer season. The sweet taste of freshly picked tomatoes trumps a grocery store tomato any day. My favorite way to eat a tomato is thickly sliced with a pinch of salt and pepper sprinkled on top. When it comes to preserving tomatoes, the sky is the limit, they can be canned, dried, or frozen. Tomatoes can be frozen whole both with skin on or off.  To remove the skin, blanch for 30 seconds to loosen the skin.  Place whole tomatoes on a baking tray and stick in the freezer.  Once frozen, place in a freeze safe container.  You can also make tomato sauce and freeze that, or, you can dry them in the oven. Tomatoes come in a such a wide variety that all have different taste and are perfect for many uses.  I recommend tasting all the varieties! HOMEMADE MARINARA AND WHOLE WHEAT PASTA 34

Zucchini Zucchini is very plentiful during the summer, and I often find that I have more than I know what to do with. One can only make zucchini bread for so long. But trust me when I say that there are so many options beyond the good ole loaf of bread. To keep zucchini, I prefer to cube it up. From there you go through the normal cycle: blanch for two minutes, ice bath, pat dry, and sit in a freezer safe container.   You can also shred zucchini with the same process.  All in all, it’s great to know that with so much zucchini in the summer, it can be easily saved throughout the year. ZUCCHINI CHEDDAR (YEAST) BREAD 35


Discusses foods that are available in the spring, with photos and descriptions of each. Photos and content from Naturally Ella (naturallyell...

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