Blooming Glen Farm | sweet peppers
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sweet peppers Tag

Are beautiful and bountiful sweet peppers taking over your fridge?  It won’t be long before they are a distant memory. Use the tips below to put them to good use now, and to preserve some of their summer flavor to enjoy during the upcoming fall and winter months.  Bonus:  Most of these tips and ideas will also work poblanos as well.

Peppers!Rockin’ raw peppers:  There’s nothing like the just-picked taste of farm-fresh peppers (and raw veggies have a special nutritional profile), but eating a side of sliced peppers at every meal can certainly get a little boring.  Try mixing it up by using peppers as the base for a veggie salad; this Summer Pepper Salad also takes advantage of the season’s cucumbers, while this one uses tomatoes.  Slice peppers thinly to add to wraps and sandwiches, or dice them up small for pasta and grain salads.  Gazpacho is a classic summer dish that you can always add extra peppers to.  You can also use raw peppers as the base for other cold soups, dips and dressings.

Peppers as a vessel:  Slice peppers in half, remove ribs and seeds, and then lightly steam or roast.  You can now use the pepper halves as a vessel in which to stuff all kinds of yummy eats.  We’ve posted a few stuffed pepper recipes here on the blog, including Freekah Stuffed Peppers, Poblanos and Mexican-style Quinoa and Green Pepper Dolmas.  I also love using eggs as part of a stuffing; this Baked Eggs in a Bell Pepper and Breakfast Stuffed Peppers use a whole egg cracked into pepper halves, while this Broccoli Quiche in Colorful Peppers uses an egg mixture.  Get creative with your stuffing fixins’ — just about any veggie, meat, grain or bean combination will work, so the possibilities are near endless!

Preserving peppers:  The no-fuss method to preserving peppers is to simply slice them into spears, place them on a cookie sheet in a single layer and place in the freezer until they’re frozen solid, and then transfer them to an airtight, freezer-safe container.  You can then use them in stir-fries, soups, sauces and other dishes.  Roasted peppers also freeze very well, holding their flavor and texture quite nicely; check out this method for roasting and freezing.  Roasted red peppers can be used on their own, or as an ingredient for soup, hummus, sauce, and pasta dishes.  And, of course, you can always make like Peter and pickle those peppers! 🙂

gfg_head shot mPost and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Rice & Beans PeppersFrom Cuban black beans with yellow rice to Indian ramjah (kidney beans) with basmati rice, rice and beans is a classic, versatile dish that’s found throughout most cultures around the globe. Rice and beans are hearty, inexpensive, and super adaptable, making them a worthwhile addition to anyone’s kitchen repertoire. The key to making this not only a belly-filling meal, but also a nourishing and nutritious one is using whole grains and loading up on veggies. The recipe below uses heart-healthy brown rice, and loads of Blooming Glen Farm-fresh veggies that are packed with vitamins and minerals. The black beans bring plant-based protein, making this a nice rounded and complete meal.

As with many recipes on this blog, the one below is very much open for alterations, depending on your particular tastes, what you have available in your pantry, and what veggies you may need to use up from your share.  I’ve added lots of peppers to this version, since they’re abundant right now. The poblano peppers add a tiny bit of heat, while the frying peppers bring in some sweetness.  Greens are always a good thing to add to your meals; using them here brings in a satisfying chewiness, perfectly complimented by the soft peppers and beans.  Corn would be a nice addition and so would zucchini — feel free to use up whatever vegetables you have on hand!  You can substitute pinto or other beans in place of the black beans. You can even skip the rice and serve the beans over baked or smashed potatoes (leave skins on) or another whole grain. Experiment and have fun 🙂

Recipe note: I make rice and beans by first getting the rice going in a rice cooker, then moving on to the prep and cooking of the beans.  In most cases, by the time the beans are done, so is the rice.

Rice & Beans

Rice & Beans

Ingredients
2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped (~1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped (~1 cup)
4 sweet peppers, seeded and chopped (~1 cup)
1+ jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
1+ cup kale, chopped fine
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped (~2 cups)
2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1+ cup broth (No-Chicken Broth is good here)
2 teaspoons maple syrup
3 cups hot cooked brown rice*
Fresh cilantro (optional)
* I prepare rice for this recipe with broth, rather than water.

Method
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook for a minute or two, until they begin to soften. Add garlic and spices, cook for one minute more. Add peppers. greens, and tomatoes, stir well, and cook until veggies are tender, about 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash 1/2-cup of the beans.

Add mashed beans, whole beans, broth, and maple syrup to the skillet. Turn up heat and bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer until reduced to desired thick consistency, about 5-10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice, topped with cilantro.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

sweet potatoesIt’s hard to find a person who can’t appreciate sweet potatoes. They’re often something I recommend to clients who need to add a little more color into their diets — both literally and figuratively — because their sweet flavor, beautiful color and ease of preparation make them a relatively safe new veggie to try.  I’ve found that sweet potatoes, specifically fresh ones, have the ability to impress even the most fastidious of palates 🙂

Nutritionally speaking, sweet potatoes are most noted for providing beta carotene, which helps increase the cancer-fighting antioxidant, vitamin A in our blood. They also provide a healthy shot of fiber, vitamin C and manganese, in a low calorie, low fat, low cholesterol package.  As is the case with many fruits and vegetables, it’s important to eat the skin since that’s where many of its nutritional benefits are stored.

Unfortunately, we have a tendency to add far too many sweeteners in sweet potato recipes — the most classic example being, of course, the marshmallow-topped Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole! There’s nothing wrong with adding a small drizzle of maple syrup to sweet potatoes, but having these potatoes fresh in our CSA shares each week offer a great opportunity to experiment a bit and try them prepared different ways. We can simply bake them and top with a small dollop of butter, or mash them adding a sprinkle orange zest and cinnamon. They also make a good addition to soups and chilis, as seen in the chili recipe below. This chili pairs the sweet potato with savory and smokey spices, and boosts nutrition with heart-healthy black beans and one one of my all-time favorite superfoods, kale. An added bonus: In total, it uses five veggies (potatoes, kale, onion, peppers, tomatoes) from our share!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

sweet potato and black bean chili

Ingredients
2 small onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tbsp chili powder
1-1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 cups chopped kale
1 cup sweet peppers, diced
3 – 4 cups sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean and diced.  Leave the skin on, but cut out any gnarly spots.
2 15-ounce cans black beans
1 24-ounce can diced tomatoes or equal amount of fresh diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper

Method
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I used a Dutch oven), sauté onion and garlic with a sprinkle of salt over medium-high heat for a couple minutes until onion begins to soften.  Mix in spices and cook for another minute. Add potato, kale and peppers and a splash of the broth and stir well.  Cover and cook for ~5 minutes until veggies begin to soften.  Add tomatoes, beans and broth, stir well and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Salt and pepper to taste, serve with vegan (or dairy) sour cream and fresh cilantro.

Post sources: Nutrition Data

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Sweet peppersIt’s pretty hard to resist the sweet taste and rainbow color of the frying peppers finding their way into our share the past few weeks.  Peppers are standard in most of our diets, but did you know that they also provide a huge dose of vitamins C and A to our diets?  They’re also high in phytonutrients, which help us fight off an array of illnesses and disease.  Add to that their fiber content and these little guys are a lot more than just good looks! As with most veggies, we can get the most nutrition from eating them raw.  Chopped up, you can top salads and tacos with them.  Sliced, enjoy them dipped in hummus or a black bean dip.

The stuffed pepper recipe below uses cooked peppers, which are certainly still healthy, especially since we’re adding fresh tomatoes and the whole grain, freekeh. Freekah, young green wheat that’s been toasted and cracked, is super rich in fiber, provides essential minerals, and is a good source of plant-based protein.

Freekah Stuffed Peppers
Freekah Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients
4 peppers, sliced in half lengthwise and cored (choose the largest ones you have)
1-1/2 cup diced peppers
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 tbs fennel
1 tbs oregano
1 tbs basil
1/2 tbs Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4+ tsp crushed red pepper
1 package of freekah (8 oz)*
2 cups broth
1 cup bread crumbs
3 tbs nutritional yeast (or parmesan or romano cheese)
1+ cup marinara or spaghetti sauce
* Freekah is available in the natural/organic section of the grocery store and at health food stores. If you can’t find it or want to use a gluten-free grain, you can substitute freekah for brown rice (increase simmer time below to 40-50 minutes) or quinoa (decrease cooking time below to 15 minutes).

Method
Saute onion until translucent. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute. Add spices and salt and sauté for a couple minutes. Add peppers and tomato, stir and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Stir in freekah and mix well. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, adding more broth or water if necessary.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a baking dish, cover the bottom with a light layer of marinara or spaghetti sauce.

Remove veggie and freekah mixture from the stove, add bread crumbs and nutritional yeast and stir until everything is well combined. Stuff pepper halves with mixture, and place in a single layer in the baking dish. Top peppers with a spoonful of marinara or spaghetti sauce. Cover and bake 35 minutes, checking occasionally to see is more sauce should be added to the bottom of the dish. Uncover and broil for 3-5 minutes, making sure pepper halves have softened.

Post sources and recommended links:

Cooked red pepper‘s nutritional profile on Nutrition Data.
Bell peppers on World’s Healthiest Foods.
What is freekah? on the Freekah Foods website.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

EdamameFresh edamame is one of the unique foods us CSA members are lucky enough to receive each season, but what exactly is it and what the heck should we do with it? Edamame is simply an immature soybean, picked before it hardens on its branch. When it comes to soy foods, consuming them as close to their natural state as possible is a great rule of thumb. Edamame fits that bill perfectly, making it a fantastic addition to our meals.

As far as nutrition, edamame is considered by most as a “superfood,” chock full of health-boosting properties: It’s a good source of fiber, protein, thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of vitamin K, folate and manganese. Hard to believe all that nutrition is in such a little, baby bean!

Although edamame has been included for thousands of years in Asian diets, it’s relatively new to the American diet. The recipe below used an Asian-inspired dressing and healthy whole grains along with several CSA ingredients.

Asian Bulgur & Edamame SaladAsian Bulgur & Edamame Salad

Ingredients
1 cup bulgur (use quinoa for gluten-free version)
1 bunch of edamame, shelled* (~1 cup)
1 sweet pepper, small diced (~1/2 cup)
1 poblano pepper, small diced (~1/2 cup)
1/4 cup shallots, minced (scallions would also be good here)

Dressing
1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar
1 tbs tamari
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tsp powdered ginger (or, use fresh if you have it)
2 tbs sweet chili sauce
1 tsp agave (optional)
cilantro for garnish (optional)

* Edamame is much easier to shell after cooking. Add beans to a pot of boiling water and blanch 4-5 minutes. Drain and immediately put pods in ice water. When cool enough to handle, simply squeeze the pod until the beans pop out.

Method
Bring bulgur to boil in 2 cups of water, reduce to simmer, cover and cook 12-15 minutes, until water is absorbed.

Add edamame, peppers and shallots to a large bowl. Add cooked bulgur and stir to combine.

Whisk together dressing ingredients, and pour over the salad mixture, stirring well to combine. Taste and adjust dressing seasonings, adding a bit of sweetener, if needed.

Let cool and serve garnished with cilantro.

Post sources and recommended links:
Edamame‘s nutritional profile on Nutrition Data.
Soy beans on World’s Healthiest Foods.
12 easy edamame recipes on Eating Well.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

I always consider green tomatoes a bonus veggie: An unexpected and tasty gift us CSA members get during the summer-fall transition of share season. For the most part, green tomatoes carry much of the same nutritional value as their red counterparts.  They’re both very good sources of vitamins A, C, and K, manganese, and potassium, and both deliver health-boosting fiber.  Green tomatoes, however, have the added nutritional benefit of being a very good source of the B5 vitamin, pantothenic acid, which is essential in aiding in the metabolizing of carbohydrates, fat, and protein.

Green tomatoes are firmer than their red buddies, so they hold up nice to pickling, cooking, and baking without turning to mush. They have a tart flavor when eaten raw, which some people don’t prefer, but pairing them with a sweeter veggie like red tomatoes, corn, and/or onion, creates a great sweet-and-sour balance.  Green tomatoes bring a brightness to soups, sauces, and salsas, where they also pair well with hot peppers and spices.  Of course, fried green tomatoes is probably the dish we’re most familiar with, but green tomatoes actually do really well baked — either as baked green tomatoes or in savory breads and biscuits.  The recipe below is probably my favorite green tomato recipe; it’s a frittata suitable for a quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Check out the links below for more green tomato nutritional info and links to other yummy recipes!

References and recommended links:

Green Tomato Frittata

Ingredients
1-1/2 green tomatoes, sliced about 1/4″-1/2″ inch thick, lightly sprinkled with salt and pepper
1/2 green tomato, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
1 frying pepper, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
1 poblano pepper, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
1 small onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup cornmeal for dredging
3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 tablespoons fresh herbs (basil, parsley, chives, and/or thyme are all good here)
10 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking spray

Method
Preheat oven to 400-degrees.

Dredge tomato slices in cornmeal. Coat a large oven-safe skillet (cast iron works great) with cooking spray and fry each tomato slice for 2 minutes. Spray tomato again, and flip, frying again for 2-3 minutes. Set slices aside, and wipe pan clean.  Spray skillet again with cooking spray, add onion, and cook until translucent and soft, about 3 minutes.  Add pinch or two of salt and garlic and mix well. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and peppers, and mix until combined well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until all veggies are softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in fresh herbs.

Meanwhile, beat eggs and season with salt and pepper.

Add egg mixture to skillet, turn heat up to medium-high, and lightly combine the ingredients, allowing the egg to distribute evenly throughout the filling, and making sure there is an egg coating on the bottom of the pan.  Place the fried sliced green tomatoes on the top of the frittata. Turn heat down to medium, and cook until edges begin to set, about 3-4 minutes. Place frittata in oven and cook until the center is firmly set, about 12 minutes.

Finish frittata under the broiler until it’s lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool and set for 10-15 minutes. Loosen the edges with spatula and slice for serving.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder and -owner of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

Lemongrass and CurryLemongrass is one of the many herbs grown at Blooming Glen Farm. Its lovely scent is due to citral, also the active ingredient in lemon peel, which has strong bacteria- and fungal-fighting antimicrobial qualities. Lemongrass is high in folic acid and essential vitamins, including B5, B6, ND B1, as well as the antioxidants vitamins C and A, potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium.

Native to India, lemongrass is not only nutritious, but tasty, too! It’s commonly used in Thai and Vietnamese dishes, particularly soups and curries. It’s unique citrus flavor really brightens up recipes, and is more versatile than one might think. It pairs well with everything from tofu to beef, and can even be used in tea. See below for a flavorful green curry recipe that not only uses lemongrass, but also lots of other goodies from this week’s share.

References and recommended links:

Summer Veggie and Lemongrass Green Curry

Summer Veggie and Lemongrass Green Curry

Ingredients:
1 can coconut milk
2-3 tbs green curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen, available in the Asian section of the grocery store)
4-5 stalks of lemongrass; trim off the grassy tops so that you’re left with about 6 inches or the stalk, then remove any tough outer leaves and mince.
2 tbs tamari
2 tbs brown sugar
1 lb tofu, drained, pressed, and cubed
2 sweet peppers, julienned
1 zuchinni, sliced into disks
1/2 an onion, julienned
1/2 Chinese eggplant, sliced into disks
1/3 cup basil, cut into ribbons

Method:
Heat coconut milk, lemongrass, curry paste, tamari, and brown sugar in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Mix well, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add tofu, simmer 7 minutes longer. Add vegetables, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until veggies are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil and serve.

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder and -owner of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

With the cooler days and nights of late summer, I find that instead of craving quickly cooked meals and cold salads, I have been turning to more warm, comforting dishes. The appearance of soups and stews on the table is a delightful reminder of the fast approaching fall season!

Tomato soup is that perfect transitional late-summer meal. Alongside a good grilled cheese, you can’t match the freshness and comfort of this classic dish. My recipe uses whole milk for creaminess (not as heavy as those recipes that call for cream), roasted garlic and sweet peppers to add a depth of flavor, and a topping of balsamic vinegar and fresh corn for some sweetness.

Tomato Soup with Roasted Garlic and Sweet Peppers

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees

-Quarter approximately 3 pounds of red tomatoes and place on baking sheet with 4 or 5 (about 3/4 of a pound) of sweet peppers, seeded and diced, and 5 or 6 unpeeled garlic cloves. Roast in oven for 20 minutes or so until veggies are tender.

-Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt 4 tablespoons of butter and saute 1 white onion until translucent. Stir in 2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste.

-Pour 4 cups of chicken or veggie stock over onions and bring to boil. Then turn down to a medium-low heat.

-Dump roasted veggies into pot with stock and onions, making sure to remove garlic skins beforehand. Puree with an immersion blender. **If you don’t have one of these you can simply put the mixture into a blender, food processor or food mill.

-Add in 1 cup of whole milk (or half a cup of heavy cream if you prefer) and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

-Let cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes to let flavors meld. Stirring occasionally.

-Top with a splash more of balsamic and some fresh, sweet corn. Serve along side your favorite version of grilled cheese. ENJOY!

Recipe and photos by Jana Smart- Blooming Glen Farm employee and frequent creator of creative recipes using farm fresh seasonal ingredients. Check out more of her recipes on her food blog http://www.agrarianeats.blogspot.com/