Sungold Cherry Tomatoes
Cucumbers (assorted varieties)
Mixed Salad Greens or Kale
Tomatoes (red slicers)
Spanish Roja Garlic
Thai Basil and Shiso (Perilla)
This week we finally got a little rain and it seems we also got a lot done. We did some planting, trellising beans and cucumbers, covering our portohoopie structure where our sweet peppers and sauce tomatoes are growing, weeding, mulching, and of course harvesting. From late June through July we spend a majority of our time harvesting. Crops like potatoes, garlic, and onions are pulled from the fields and then cured so they can be stored through the fall and then there is the three times a week harvesting of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, beans, okra, peppers, and eggplant. Some of these crops are not in full swing for us yet, but the tomatoes are definitely putting out like crazy. This is the time of year to use tomatoes in everything. Making squash, add chopped up tomatoes and herbs; pasta, couscous, or bulghur make a quick sauce with tomatoes; broil tomatoes and serve with eggs; and of course there are so many salad options. In Virginia, in this fluctuating climate, crops have there moment of greatness and this year, July is for tomatoes.
We have two items in the share this week that grow wild on our land: purslane and shiso (perilla). We love using both of them and thought we could share with you all. Last year we attempted to grow a cultivated variety of purslane and it did terrible; where as the stuff that comes up naturally in our crop fields is delicious, succulent, and thrives on its own. Shiso is used throughout Asia both medicinally and as an herb, especially popular in Japanese, Korean, and southeast Asian cuisines. In Virginia it is known as Perilla and is a native plant that is common throughout the Piedmont. On our farm we have the green variety and it grows on the edges of wood lines and in other slightly shaded areas. The wild variety is not as pungent as some cultivated types, but it is still amazing used in herb salads, spring rolls, and even granita; check out the recipe below. Have a great week and enjoy the share…Brian and Autumn
Vietnamese Salad Rolls (Gỏi cuốn)When we make these we let everyone prepare their own, as it makes for a really fun meal activity. As the recipe states, you can substitute various herbs, we particularly like Thai basil, shiso, and mint together. We always add julienned slivers of scallions and sometimes substitute shredded pork or shrimp for tofu. For dipping sauces we use a traditional Nuoc Cham and Vietnamese Peanut Sauce (recipes below).
Nuoc Cham –Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid
1/4cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup water
2 tsp rice or cider vinegar
1 Tbls sugar
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 bird chile, minces
several shreds of carrot (optional)
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar completely. Serve in small condiment bowls. Store in a tightly sealed glass container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (after that, the garlic starts to taste tired).
Vietnamese Peanut Sauce –Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid
¼ cup dry roasted peanuts
2 scant Tbls tamarind pulp, dissolved in 2 Tbls warm water or substitute 2 Tbls tomato paste
2 tsp peanut oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbls ground pork
3 Tbls fermented soybean paste (tuong in Vietnamese; dao jiao in Thai)
1 cup water
1 ½ tsp sugar
1-2 bird chiles, minced
Generous squeeze of fresh lime juice
Place the peanuts in a food processor or large mortar and process or pound to a coarse powder; set aside. If using tamarind, press it through a sieve; reserve the liquid and discard the solids. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry until it is starting to change color, about 15 seconds. Toss in the pork and use your spatula to break it up into small pieces. Once it has all changed color, add the soybean paste and the tamarind or tomato paste and stir to blend. Stir in ½ cup water, then stir in most of the ground peanuts, reserving about 1 Tbls for the garnish. Stir in the sugar and chiles. Add up to ½ cup more water, until you have the desired texture: a thick liquid, pourable but not watery. Serve in small condiment bowls, warm or at room temperature, squeezing on the lime and sprinkling on the reserved peanuts just before serving. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 1 month. Reheat it in a small pan and simmer briefly before serving.
Shiso Granita – Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu
15 green shiso leaves
¼ cup granulated sugar
Place the shiso leaves in a medium-sized bowl or 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Heat the sugar and 3 cups water to boiling in a medium saucepan, stirring the sugar to dissolve. Pour the boiling sugar water over the leaves and steep until cool. Set a strainer over a plastic container large enough to hold 3 cups and strain out the leaves. Cover and transfer the shiso-flavored sugar water to a freezer shelf. Let sit, undisturbed, in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove to the countertop, open the lid, and gently stir in the crystals that have formed on the perimeter. Repeat this operation every 30 minutes, breaking up any larger crystals as you go. The finished granita should be flaky. Serve alone in a glass bowl or goblet. This is also wonderful served alongside Fig Ice Cream and Plum Sorbet. Keeps frozen for several weeks.
Dai Mint and Tomato Salad– Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid
The Dai, like the Chinese, prefer their tomatoes a little green, just before their fullest sweet ripeness. Perhaps it’s an aesthetic question: The mix of green and red is more interesting to the eye than the uniform red of ripe tomatoes. Or perhaps it’s beacuase tomatoes enter the regional cuisine as a slightly sour vegetable, rather than with the sweetness and ripeness as their prime characteristic. All of which is to say that you should, as we do, use the tomatoes that please you. This salad is simple to make and delicious. It’s like a half-pounded Mexican salsa, ideal for scooping up with Thai-Lao Crispy rice crackers or sticky rice or pork cracklings.
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
a little minced chile, jalapeno (optional)
1 cup tender mint leaves or Thai basil, coarsely torn
2-3 scallion, trimmed, sliced lengthwise into ribbons and then cut crosswise into 1-inch lengths
5 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 Tbls hot chile oil
Place the garlic and salt in a large mortar and pound together. Or place them in a large bowl and use the back of a flat spoon to mash them against the side of the bowl. Add the fresh chile, the mint, and the scallions and continue to pound or mash to soften and blend. Add the tomatoes and gently pound or mash until broken up a little. Add the chile oil and toss well. Serve the salad mounded in a shallow bowl, with the juices poured over.
Note: If the mint is coarse or rough, finely chop the leaves; or substitute Asian basil leaves.
Purslane and Yogurt Salad – The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
1 lb purslane (4 cups well packed)
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
salt and white pepper
If using purslane, pull the leaves off the stem but do include the stem if very tender. Wash the purslane , then dry it. Beat the yogurt with garlic, oil, and a little salt and pepper, and mix with the leaves.