CSA Week 8: Peperonata

Cassius and Roxy are amazed by all this farm fresh produce

Cassius and Roxy are amazed by all this farm fresh produce

It’s week eight of the Sol to Seed Farm CSA season and it’s all about peppers.  I love peppers — sweet peppers for frying and pickling as well as hot chile peppers prepared many ways. This week’s box includes:

Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Summer Squash
Sweet/Mild Peppers
Padron Peppers
Jalapenos
Salad Mix
Parsley
Potatoes
Dragon’s Tongue Beans

The Padron peppers really need nothing more than frying and salting, and I recommend pickling the jalapenos if you’ve never tried it.  The other peppers can be made into a colorful and tasty peperonata. It’s a wonderful way to use up lots of sweet and colorful peppers during the summer. Try eating peperonata with roasted pork, folded into an omelette or on bruschetta topped with ricotta cheese.

I first learned how to make peperonata at Chez Panisse back in 2001 where I worked as a summer intern.  I was actually there as a food anthropology student between my undergraduate and graduate studies at New York University.  Alice Waters greeted me upon my arrival to Berkeley and then handed me off to the Chef who awarded me with the not-so-coveted job of hand-peeling several cases of garlic (just in from Gilroy where it was grown) and one of the sharpest knives I’ve ever used.  One of the garlic-laden dishes I would help prepare the first night was seasonal peperonata served with roasted pork.  By the end of the evening, I was adorned with several “finger condoms” from jabbing my garlic-burnt fingers with that incredibly sharp knife.  The trauma of that night will stay with me forever, and so will the memory of making peperonata. This recipe is not from Chez Panisse but it’s similar.

Peperonata

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, halved, cut into 1/4″ thick slices (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup peeled garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sweet red pepper (Cubanelle, bell), seeded, cut into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 2 large Gypsy or Banana peppers, seeded, cut into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 2 orange or green bell peppers, seeded, cut into 1/4″ thick slices (although some green bell peppers are too bitter for this recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata or Niçoise olives

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Stir in onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and a a few cranks of a black pepper mill.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion and garlic are cooked but not browned, about 7-8 minutes. Add peppers and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar, oregano, and sugar; stir for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and stir for 2 minutes. Season peperonata with salt and pepper.

Spread peperonata in an even layer in a large baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven; stir in pitted olives. Return to oven and bake until top is browned in spots and peppers are nicely roasted, about 45 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Freezing Blueberries and Canning Tomatoes

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In addition to my CSA share, I picked up 2 flats of Bow Hill Blueberries in Bow and 20 pounds of tomatoes from La Conner Flats in Mount Vernon.  Farmer Harley told me that Jersey blueberries were the best for freezing so that’s what I got.

Instead of making more jam this summer, I opted to freeze blueberries this year to preserve the taste of summer.  I recently bought a small chest freezer to stock the berries and some beef and pork that I plan to buy from Skagit River Ranch.  I saved back a few pints of fresh berries for snacking, but I froze 15 1/2 pounds of blueberries that will be great later for smoothies, pancakes, or just thawing and eating with a spoon.  I recently heard author and researcher Jo Robinson say on a radio interview that we should all be eating about a cup of berries every day.  Here we go!

15 1/2 pounds of Jersey blueberries bound for the freezer.

15 1/2 pounds of Jersey blueberries bound for the freezer.

Tomorrow I will can the tomatoes.  I am really looking forward to opening those tomato jars this winter when it’s dark, cold and wet outside and summer is a faint memory.

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7 thoughts on “CSA Week 8: Peperonata

    • Hey Tammy- No prepping required for the berries. In fact, when I consult institutional food buyers at preschools, hospitals and senior centers on what products are easiest to work with when sourcing from local farms, I will tell them that blueberries are not only delicious raw, they are the easiest to store and have an exceptional nutritional profile. These berries are called Jersey – a variety that is best for freezing – according to the farmer at Bow Hill Blueberry farm. These were grown without chemical inputs and very clean. All I did was weigh them in the bags and seal. According to one source, you can also coat blueberries in sugar before freezing but for some reason that just doesn’t seem like a good idea. Seems like that would break down the skin cells upon thawing…not sure about that. No don’t seed my tomatoes- I like mine rustic 🙂

  1. Lucy,
    I think it’s great that you’ve got a record of how many blueberries you started off with, to gauge your blueberry usage over the year. I always freeze too many, but can’t resist and go ahead and get more when they are ripe here. So right now I’ve got a couple of 2012 bags in front and on top of the 2013 bags.
    Must can some crushed tomatoes soon–I ran out and they are so extremely useful.

    Thanks!

  2. Raw pack? Do you add an acid or how do you know whether they need it? I always do open kettle but I’ve been freezing them for the last few years.

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