September recipes

Baby bok choy

Baby Bok, as we call it at home, is one of my favorite veggies to eat in the most simple form of steaming. It remains crisp, but soft and it is one of the more juicy leafy crops. Baby bok choy is the perfect main component to a simple dinner. Every now and then, Kate and I will chop a bok choy in half, steam it, and put it atop a heaping scoop of rice. We add a square of butter, a pinch of salt and a few shakes of pepper. Its simple for your body to process, take about 10 minutes to prepare, and tastes real good!

  • Ramen and Bok Choy– this is a pork recipe, but if you are like me and don’t eat pork, you can leave it out all together. Also, a really great twist to this is the dry ramen version. Its super fast and great for a warmer day.
  • Baby Bok Choy and Miso Dressing– if you do not have mirin, you can sub with a handful of cooked shiitakes
  • Bok Choy and Nuts– this recipe calls for cashews, but I’ve also made it with peanuts and with sunflower seeds and all the ways are great, so use whatever is easiest for you

Storage information: using this storage guide, the bok choy should stay fresh for at least 10 days

  • Wash the bok choy in cold water
  • Run it through a salad spinner and lay out to dry on a kitchen or paper towel
  • lightly pat the bok choy to take away any excess water and place in a perforated plastic bag with a paper towel to wick up any additional moister
  • store in the vegetable or crisper drawer of your fridge

Carrots

Oh carrots, everyone’s favorites! Their flavor magically changes with the season. Winter carrots are crisp, sweet and almost translucent. Spring carrots are often smaller, sweeter and hairier. Summer carrots are more herby and a bit drier, while fall carrots are juicy, plump, and have an almost melting quality in your mouth. There is no other crop like a carrot, growing in all seasons and changing to adapt to its external conditions. It’s poetically natural. Carrots are not only versatile in plant quality, but there is no match to their edible diversity. I feel like Bubba in the movie Forest Gump when talking about all the ways one can use carrots. Carrot soup, steamed carrots, raw carrots, grated carrots, carrot cake, candied carrots, pickled carrots, carrot juice…

Storage information: this handling practice should keep the carrots fresh for a month.

  • Do not wash your carrots until you are ready to use them
  • Always take the greens off of your carrots as soon as you get home, or better yet, at the farmer’s market or grocery store! This will keep your roots from sending all their energy to the leaves and becoming floppy in turn
  • Do not store your carrots in the same bin as you store fruit. The natural gas that is released from your carrots will speed up the ripening and degradation process of the fruit that surrounds the carrots.
  • Place your carrots in a closed plastic bag with a damp paper towel.

Eggplant

Solanum melongena (derived from Italian ‘melanzane’, meaning ‘mad apple’). Kin to the tomato and potato, these nightshades are so creamy and adaptable it’s quite a treat when they are in season. They are most excellent roasted or grilled and eaten alongside other summer fruits.

Storage information: An eggplant will last 3 days in the fridge or 5-7 on the counter.

  • Do not place your eggplant in the refrigerator, unless you purchased it cold. If you place eggplant in the fridge, it will collect condensation on its skin, which will speed up the decaying process. You will start to see pock marks on your eggplant, often before you are ready to use it.
  • Store your eggplant on the counter in a place that does not collect sun and is not next to high ethylene producers like bananas, tomatoes and melons.

Hot Peppers

There are few things in my life quite like hot peppers. One day I bit into a Sugar Rush Peach hot pepper and my ears flared with heat and were ringing for at least 10 minutes afterward. The next day I went back for more. There is strong biology around the human love of hot peppers. Capsaicin, that source of pepper heat, is an aphrodisiac that causes the body to release endorphins. It is also a vasodilator that can pretty quickly get rid of a headache. And hot peppers are a part of almost every cuisine in the world.

  • Fermented jalapenos– This just gets my mouth watering. It is a super simple sea salt brine and one of the best ways to enjoy the hot crunch of jalapenos year-round.
  • Black bean soup with aji amarillo peppers– You can use any hot peppers that you have on hand. But fresh is where it’s at! Also, toasting and grinding whole cumin seeds as you’re cooking brings on a rich flavor that pre-ground cumin simply cannot meet.
  • Stuffed jalapenos– These can be made with whatever you have on hand. Any proportion of cream cheese and cheddar will do. Skip the worcestershire and bacon and they still turn out wonderful. The key is just getting a little blister on the pepper skins and some melting of the cheese.

Storage information:

  • Store on the counter, out of direct sunlight, for up to a week
  • If you’re not using them immediately (or a week has passed), throw them in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the fridge.

Parsley

It seems like parsley has a hard time fitting in in the vegetable world. It’s easily recognized and well-known, but it’s seldom anyone’s first pick for cooking. Sometimes it is even placed on a plate as a sad and floppy garnish that is almost certainly meant to be thrown away. But I love it. It is cold-hardy and biannual– somehow renewing itself each season if just left in place. And it shines in the fall and winter time when the cold causes it to sweeten up. The stems are especially sweet and crunchy, almost like a vegetable in their own right. It’s flavor sings of it’s carrot cousins and I maintain it is also a good breath freshener.

  • Parsley pesto with walnuts– Let’s face it. Basil in imperiled. Downy mildew comes earlier each season and wipes out those sweet delicate leaves. But parsley is a no-frills garden stalwart. And it is SO damn good as pesto. Pair that herbal, carroty sweetness with the rich fat of walnut and we’re getting somewhere. This will store in the fridge for 5 days, or several months in the freezer.
  • Tabbouleh salad– This recipe calls for a generous amount of parsley and mint and relatively little bulgur wheat. It is herb-forward and supremely delicious, especially with the brightness of cherry tomatoes and lemon juice. I’ve overcooked, oversoaked, and overthought bulgur almost every time I’ve used it, so this also flips the script on that. Soak the bulgur in the olive oil-lemon dressing for about 15 minutes before integrating with the rest of the ingredients. That’s it.
  • Moroccan potato salad– This dish comes together in about 25 minutes. The longest part of it is cooking the potatoes. I don’t peel the potatoes, but you choose.

Storage information:

  • Cut the end of the stems and store the parsley as you would a fresh flower bouquet- in a jar of water on the counter (change the water and trim the ends everyday for optimum freshness)
  • Or wrap the parsley in a plastic bag and store in the crisper drawer of the fridge.

Summer squash

Summer squash comes in many different forms and sizes. My household prefers the smaller patty pans, zucchini and yellow squash. The smaller they are the more packed with flavor, the easier to prepare and faster they cook. Some of our farmers’ market customers prefer larger summer squash that they can spaghettify, stuff or grate into zucchini bread. The most simple recipe we use at home is to cut off the little spikey top, give them a little rinse, put the full tiny summer squash in a bowl with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne. We toss it up and put them on a baking sheet in the oven set at 450* until one side is blistered. So simple and so good!

Storage information: with this method, your summer squash should last for at least 10 days.

  • Do not wash your summer squash until you are ready to use them
  • Place in a closed perforated plastic bag in the fridge. They do not necessarily need to be placed in the veggie drawer, but if you have space, it couldn’t hurt!
  • You can also freeze cut up summer squash. I recommend chopping them up and placing the chopped pieces on a baking sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, place them in a ziplock for winter use.