Although CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, there are some consumers who would say it stands for “Cannot Stomach Another” . . . whatever veggie is in season that week. One of the goals of Cane Creek Asparagus & Company CSA is to convince the CSA Member who finds oneself with excess produce to consider CSA to mean “Consider Stashing Away!”
While as we do not pack our farm share boxes with the intent of providing the average family with enough vegetables to “put up,” we do realize that some families will feel they are getting too much of a good thing. This delightful scenario provides two options: (1) giving excess produce away to friends and neighbors—and positively cementing relationships, or (2) stashing some of the excess whatever the veggie is into the freezer for use at another time!
Fresh vegetables shipped in from elsewhere in the world deserve the reputation they have gained and commercially frozen foods have gotten a bad rap over the years. So what is a vegetable connoisseur to do in the off season? We suggest those who insist they have never tasted fresher veggies than those they are getting in our farm shares would be well advised to consider stashing away some of the bountiful summer harvest for comparison. Properly prepared our vegetables will taste almost as good in the winter when taken from the freezer and much better than frozen food from the store!
In our household at Cane Creek Asparagus & Company CSA we have only found one (1) vegetable which we are unable to preserve—lettuce. We grow many lettuce varieties, but even our sturdy heirlooms types do not standup to preservation. OK, so that’s one thing which simply must be consumed in the spring. As for everything else, we trust you will check out our recipes for tips and suggestions on how to make the most of your CSA experience!
ROASTED BELL PEPPERS
Bell peppers can be sliced or diced and frozen immediately with good results if consumed with in a two-month time period. However, they are best when sliced or diced, roasted and frozen in air-tight, freezer bags. From this frozen state, they have many uses in soups, casseroles, omelets, pizzas, spaghetti sauce, or even as a side dish. We also prepare air-tight, freezer bags of colorful bell peppers mixed with green and yellow zucchini slices which we add to our pasta sauces and pizzas.
ROASTED FRENCH CUT BEANS
Wash, trim, and use a vegetable peeler to remove any late season blemishes you may find upon the beans or in the string area. Next, send the beans (green and/or yellow beans) through the food processor slicer. This step will yield slender slivers which have a more sweet and delicate taste and a less tough texture.
Roast the beans in Extra Virgin Olive Oil with some freshly ground pepper for about fifteen minutes in a 400 degree oven. Stir often and add almonds in the last few minutes, if you desire!
These roasted beans can be frozen after cooling slightly. They will taste just as good in the dead of winter if you store them in an air-tight, freezer bag.
NOTE: Added slivers of red, orange or yellow bell pepper provides another sweet taste and a colorful presentation!
NOTE: You can also roast small green beans; but this recipe is particularly nice for capturing the mature flavors of the bigger beans!
Wash tomatoes, core, if large, and cut in half or chunks, depending on the size of the tomato. Place in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with Italian Seasoning and freshly, ground pepper, if desired.
Roast the tomatoes for about sixty minutes in a 400 degree oven until rendered or most of the liquid is evaporated. Stir every fifteen minutes to prevent burning.
These roasted tomatoes can be frozen after being cooked. They will taste just as good in the dead of winter if you store them in an air-tight, freezer bag and make an excellent addition to any pasta dish, soup, or pizza—in addition being a sweet side dish.
NOTE: You can roast any size or type of tomato. The roasting brings out all of the natural sweetness in the vegetable—actually, tomatoes are a fruit! Regardless, this is a great way to store a taste of the summer harvest for winter use!
CORNICOPIA OF ROASTED VEGETABLES
Potatoes, peeled only if desired
Beets or carrots, if available
Zucchini and squash, all varieties
1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch wedges
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar, or other flavor, to taste
Salt to taste
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled, and set aside
Chopped fresh herbs (parsley or rosemary, set aside
Cut vegetables into 1-inch pieces. Toss the vegetables with the extra-virgin olive oil and salt to taste. Do not overcrowd. Place the vegetables and onion in a roasting pan. Place in a 400 degree oven. Or use the outside grill if you prefer.
Roast the mixture for a total of about 45-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. After 30 minutes, scatter the garlic cloves in with the vegetables. Continue stirring every 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender and evenly browned.
Just before serving, mix in the fresh herbs.
This delicious vegetable cornucopia can be frozen after cooling slightly. It will taste just as good in the dead of winter if stored in an air-tight, freezer bag.
BLANCHED VEGETABLES BECOME A STIR-FRY
These three veggies were blanched last harvest season at their peak of flavor. Today they are fresh from the freezer where there were stored separately in air-tight, freezer bags. Yellow beans, green beans, and cauliflower will be part of a stir-fry meal.
The key is to slime-less okra make sure you don’t cut or cook okra too long or it will become slimy and undesirable to many even hardened vegetable eaters.
Preparation: Wash okra. Leave the stem on. Depending on cooking method, season with pepper, lemon pepper, lime pepper, etc. as desired. Cook the whole uncut okra in one of the following methods. The exact time will depend upon the quality you are preparing. Using the stem as handle, pick up the okra and eat like a pickle! Or a fork works, too. Cut off the stem with a knife if you prefer, just before popping into your mouth!
Alternative One: In a glass baking dish, place uncut okra. Drizzle with olive oil seasoning with salt and pepper, as desired. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes. Roasting tends to eliminate the slime to the great extent that you might consider even slicing the okra for this alternative (as pictured above). Tomatoes may be added to the mix, if desired.
Alternative Two: Sauté okra slightly (3 – 4 minutes) in a medium-hot skillet with small amount of olive oil and seasonings.
Alternative Three: Steam okra for 5-6 minutes. Add desired seasonings after steaming.
Alternative Four: Put the okra in the microwave—1-2 minutes in a little water in a bowl.
And yes, stir-fried okra stores well in the freezer in an air-tight bag! Ready to be served as a side dish or added to homemade soups or stews when the cold winds are blowing.
Find more of our recipe suggestions on the Recipes Page!