We are so very pleased to introduce y’all to the creative and generous Teri, CSA host extraordinaire. She welcomes Midlothian-area CSA members to her home every Wednesday, and she has been the kind of partner farmers like us only dream of finding. Teri kindly agreed to write a guest post about why she offered to host the pick-up and what draws her to the CSA model. She also offered two delicious recipes! As the hungry recipient of her squash tart one hot Richmond afternoon a few weeks ago, I can only say: hie thee to your kitchen! There’s no time like the summer for meals where fresh veggies take center stage, and these recipes are perfect examples.
And now, here’s Teri!
I have always looked at my Californian family and friends with a touch of envy. Don’t get me wrong; I love Virginia and plan to live here until I’m pushing up daisies. It’s just they seemed to have the advantage of having large groups of like minded people working together for the common good. I remember reading about a CSA there and thought — that would be so amazing, to pick up a box of produce and try to figure out what everything was and what to do with it. I really liked how it changed the dynamic of what’s for dinner. Instead of trying to figure out what to make (you know most people recycle the same 10 meals over and over and over = boring) you have all this stuff and just have to figure out what to do with it. That’s where the fun begins! Zucchini tart = amazing. Summer squash and cornmeal pizza crust = not so much — but at the very minimum, not the same old thing again!
Me hosting a pick-up happened completely by accident. I went to a hooping workshop (as in hula hoop) at the Carver Healing Arts Center and saw a brochure for Frog Bottom Farm. It was beautiful. I left it there because it was the only one and thought, I hope I can remember that name. A couple of days later I looked it up online, and amazingly, they were looking for a Midlothian pick-up. I flipped out. I was so excited at the prospect of hosting. Not only would this really cool thing be happening in Midlothian, but I would be a part of it! My California friends and family (who by the way are Midlothian transplants) thought it was really awesome too!
What I have found is there are like-minded people here and probably everywhere who want to eat locally grown, freshly harvested foods, and have a connection to the people who grow it. They get excited about seeing what each week brings. Some anxiously await tomatoes while others dream of ratatouille recipes. I have noticed personally I didn’t eat enough vegetables. And, when you do, you feel great! I am so looking forward to the rest of the growing season. The interesting people I have met. The adventurous recipes I have yet to try. They all make me look forward to each and every Wednesday with a smile and excitement so big I feel like I have to pinch myself. What an awesome ride.
Below are two recipes from Teri that highlight ingredients you’ll find in your CSA share right now: zucchini and tomatoes. The Zucchini Tart — which would be equally wonderful with any of our summer squash — tastes somehow fresh and rich at the same time. Teri warns that “you’ve really got to be in the mood to look at and fool around with zucchini for quite a while — it’s a labor of zucchini love!” and so she also offers a quick crowd-pleaser recipe for Tomato Pie.
Zucchini Tart with Feta
Adapted from a recipe in Saveur magazine, May 2006
Lynne Curry serves this tart by the slice from her stand at the Matakana farmers market in New Zealand.
1 10”x13” sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed and chilled
12 small zucchini (or other summer squash) (about 2 ½ lbs.), trimmed
3 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
10 cherry tomatoes (or better yet, Frog Bottom Farm tomatoes of equivalent amount), finely chopped, strained in a sieve, excess moisture pressed out
1 cup (4 oz) crumbled feta cheese
½ cup ricotta
2 Tbsp chopped basil
Freshly ground pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350°.
Fit pastry into a 9”x12” baking sheet, pressing it against the sides. Score around bottom inner edge of pastry (beside crease where bottom meets sides), being careful not to cut all the way through, with a paring knife. Prick bottom of pastry all over with a fork, line with a sheet of parchment paper that fits the bottom only, and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake until edge of crust begins to puff and color, about 25 minutes. Remove weights and paper. Bake until bottom is golden, 6-8 minutes more. Let crust cool.
Grate 4 of the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl. Add 1 Tbsp of salt, toss well, and set aside to let weep for 30 minutes. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel and wring thoroughly to remove moisture.
Meanwhile, slice remaining zucchini into ¼”–thick rounds. Working in batches, blanch rounds in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain and spread out on a paper towel- lined sheet pan; set aside.
Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Spoon out and reserve 1 Tbsp. Add onions and cook until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add grated zucchini and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to brown 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; let cool.
Stir tomatoes, half the feta, ricotta, basil, and salt and pepper to taste into zucchini mixture. Stir in egg and spread mixture evenly in crust. Arrange zucchini rounds, slightly overlapping in rows, like tiles on top. Bake for 15 minutes, then brush the top with reserved butter. Continue to bake until crust is deep golden, 10 minutes more. Let cool to room temperature, then sprinkle remaining feta over top. Cut into squares.
Frozen pastry crust
Hellman’s Mayonnaise – about a cup per pie
Shredded Mexican cheese blend – about 2 cups per pie
Preheat oven to 350°.
Slice tomatoes and onions in rounds and layer into the crust, sprinkling with fresh chopped basil — stopping to close your eyes, smell the basil and smile.
Mix the mayo and cheese into a paste –- sort of.
Press the mayo/cheese mixture on top of the pie. Decoratively add basil leaves.
Bake until gorgeous.
Try to wait ‘til it cools to eat it or it will be a mess –- but who cares? Make 4 of them and then you’ll be sure to have one to cool that will slice pretty.