Due to COVID-19, in an effort to accomodate and make your market experience quicker and safer, we’re now accepting preorders! We started off by offering two options of prepackaged seasonal shares for $20.00, kind of like a CSA box, but now we have set it up so you can customize what goes into your share, within the seasonal product options (note product options will change according to seasonal availability). *Not all products we grow are available for preorder. Preordering is optional, if you have any questions call us at (804)761-8813, we look forward to serving you!
Summer is slipping away. Soon we will enjoy those cool, crisp Fall days. But for now we still have eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini and basil. Add some garlic, onions, tomato paste, red pepper flakes and you have the makings of a great dish. Ratatouille!
I confess I hadn’t heard of ratatouille until Disney made a movie about a rat in Paris who wanted to be a chef. I decided to try the recipe on my own a few years ago. I’ve made ratatouille a couple different ways but this is one of the best recipes I’ve used. So kudos to Jenn Segal. I will put the link to her entire recipe at the bottom.
I halved the recipe. I also like the flavor of bell pepper but I don’t like to actually eat peppers. I cut the peppers in large pieces and just pulled them out before I served it. I used red and orange tomatoes to give it more color. Chopping everything up is a bit time consuming but totally worth it in the end.
Ratatouille can be served as a side dish. If you want to serve it over whole wheat pasta add extra tomatoes so you have more sauce. Now you have a great meatless meal.
By Jennifer Segal
Servings: 8 (Makes about 7 cups)
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
- 1 large (1.25 lb) eggplant, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 2 medium zucchini (about 1 lb), cut into 1/3-inch cubes
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 5 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 5 large vine-ripened tomatoes (1.75 lb), cut into 1/3-inch cubes, with their juices
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme, plus more for serving
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the eggplant and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and starting to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan (no need to clean it). Add the zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, until tender-crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and transfer to a plate; set aside.
- Add two more tablespoons of oil to the pan and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for about 3 minutes more. Do not brown. Add the tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, thyme, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes (if using) and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down into a sauce, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cooked eggplant to the pan; bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant is soft. Add the zucchini and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, or until just warmed through. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Sprinkle with fresh basil and thyme, drizzle with a little olive oil if desired, and serve warm or chilled. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions:Let the dish cool completely and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. (Keep in mind that the zucchini won’t stay crisp after being frozen.) This is delicious served cold, or reheated in the microwave.
Hiding underneath these vines are our cantaloupes just waiting to be picked. We will have these beauties at the market this weekend. While we might not have every variety we grow ready this week, we should have plenty to choose from. Be sure to make it to our Saturday and Sunday markets to pick up some fresh farm produce.
Maybe…even a watermelon. We always taste test our watermelons. If they aren’t quite ready we always wait until they reach their optimal sweetness.
Nothing signals the beginning of summer like the arrival of tomatoes at the farmers’ markets. We are happy to say that our tomatoes are ripening on the vines and each day we have more to pick.
Along with our red juicy tomatoes, we also have green tomatoes and even some straw tomatoes. We use the term straw tomatoes for those tomatoes that are in between green and perfectly ripe. Straw tomatoes are great to use when you don’t quite like the tart, acidic green ones.
I’ve added a link from North Carolina Cooperative Extension to answer the question, “What is a green tomato?” Scroll down after the article to find some tasty green tomato recipes.
The green tomatoes we have at the market right now are just unripe red tomatoes. We will have quite a variety of different colored heirloom tomatoes later in the season. Stay tuned.
Our Flower Boots are back by popular demand. Come by and see all our containers potted up and ready to go home. We have lettuce mix containers and potted herb gardens along with flowers in hanging baskets and planters.
For those of you with a green thumb, we have many vegetable, herb and flower starters. We have too many varieties to list on this post. Pictured below are some, not all, of our plant selection.
When planting your starter plants follow the directions on any fertilizer you may use. Fertilizer will need to be worked into the soil and not simply put into the bottom of the hole. Too much fertilizer on starter plant roots will kill the plant
Produce available includes green onions, bagged lettuce, radishes and more.
Our open markets are:
This year we will not be at the Eastern Orange Farmers Market. But one of our family will be there, Franco Produce.
We can’t wait to see everyone!
We grow a handful of different varieties of sweet potatoes on the farm. They may have different colored skin but most have the more traditional orange colored flesh. We also grow a variety of white sweet potato that is cream colored both inside and out. Some customers say the white sweet potatoes are a little creamier than their orange fleshed counter-parts.
The most unique sweet potato we grow and sell is our purple sweet potato. This sweet potato is purple both inside and out. According to Kansas State University, purple sweet potatoes contain “significantly higher anthocyanin content and more anti-aging and antioxidant components than other sweet potatoes.” (source)
Purple sweet potatoes have a lower water content which makes them denser and starchier. We experimented by boiling them and baking them. The boiled potatoes were less creamy and tended to be a little gummy. The baked purple sweet potatoes were a more creamy consistent texture.
Most of all, the baked method was a lot easier. Preheat your oven to 400°. Scrub the potatoes. Poke the sweet potatoes with a fork a couple times and place on a baking pan. No foil needed. Pop them in the oven. Since the ones we used were small it only took about 25 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the potato.
Do you want your sweet potato pie to stand out? How about a Purple Sweet Potato Pie?
Purple Sweet Potato Pie
(Adapted from Taste of Home)
This recipe yields a pie with a texture similar to a cheesecake.
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¾ cup evaporated milk
- 2 cups (baked) mashed purple sweet potatoes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 unbaked pastry shell (9 inches)
- In a bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs; mix well.
- Add milk, sweet potatoes, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; mix well.
- Pour into pie shell. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake 15-30 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
- Store in refrigerator.
Top with whipped cream, of course.
Last week we posted a recipe using our Honeynut Butternut Squash that was on the savory side. Obviously these sweet little butternuts are perfect in a sweeter side dish too.
Here’s a great side dish for pork or poultry from Betty Crocker. Originally I cut this recipe in half since it stated that this would make 12 servings. Go ahead and make the whole recipe. This was great as a left-over and even better the next morning when I put a big spoonful of it on my oatmeal.
Baked Butternut Squash with Apples
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- ½ Teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ Teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 ½ Pound butternut squash*, peeled, seeded and cut into ½ inch cubes (about 5 cups)
- 2 to 3 Granny Smith Apples, cored, cut into ½ cubes ( aoubt 4 cups)
- ¼ Cup Real Maple Syrup**
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ¼ Cup chopped pecans (walnuts work too)
*Use Honeynut Butternut Squash if you can
**The original recipe calls for real maple or maple-flavored syrup. The high fructose in the “maple-flavored” syrup adds too much sweetness for my taste.
- Heat oven to 375°F. Place butter in 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish; heat in oven 5 to 7 minutes or until melted.
- Stir cinnamon and nutmeg into melted butter. Add squash; toss to coat. Cover with foil; bake 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in large bowl, mix apples, syrup and vinegar.
- Pour apple mixture over squash. Cover; bake 10 minutes. Stir; bake 5 to 10 minutes longer or until squash is tender. Stir before serving and sprinkle with pecans.
Find us at these Farmers Markets
Here is the latest member of our squash family for sale at the markets. This adorable serving-sized mini butternut has a dark tan skin and great sweet flavor. The skin is thin enough that peeling it is not mandatory. That’s going to save some time. And unlike its large cousin the regular sized butternut squash, cutting it in half isn’t a herculean effort.
Here’s a tasty recipe from Tumbleweed Farm in Oregon.
Twice Baked Honey Nut Squash
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 3 honeynut squash sliced in half lengthwise, seeded, and hollowed out leaving 1/4 inch on the sides
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups veggie stock
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup kale, stems removed and chopped
- 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Drizzle squash with a little olive oil. Place squash on an oiled baking sheet cut side down and roast for about 20 minutes or until soft.
- Place 1 cup uncooked quinoa and two cups veggie stock in a pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 12-15 minutes, or until quinoa is fully cooked.
- Saute’ garlic and onion in a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. After about 7 minutes add kale. Continue to cook until kale is bright green and wilted. (about 8 minutes)
- Mix your quinoa and kale mixture together (you may have extra quinoa, save it for a later use)
- Take squash out of the oven and scoop a healthy portion of quinoa mixture into each half. Top with a handful of gorgonzola cheese and place back in the oven for about 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
Use this recipe as a guide and adjust measurements and seasonings to your liking.
Sadly, summer squash is almost finished in the fields. Don’t despair, we are harvesting loads of our regular, and one or two new varieties of winter squash. We get lots of questions about our winter squash: how to cook them, how to cut them and how and where to store them. So before I get to the recipe of the week, here is some great information I found from Colorado State University. (Source)
Begin your squash journey by selecting a winter variety currently in season, including butternut, acorn, hubbard, spaghetti, delicata and pumpkin. These differ from summer squash (such as crookneck and zucchini) which are eaten before their rind hardens. Winter squash are harvested when the fruit inside matures and the seeds are large and plump.
Select squash that are firm, heavy for their size, dull (not glossy) and free of soft spots or cracks. Once home, squash can sit at room temperature for 10-20 days, but can be stored in a cooler, dry place for up to 6 months, then washed right before being prepared for savoring. Cutting a winter squash can be a challenge, and is the reason most often given by people who do not cook them at home. To simplify this task, poke holes in the squash with a knife and microwave it for up to 5 minutes. Then try cutting it the hard rind will be softened. Cut it in half and remove all the seeds and fibers.
Be sure to keep the seeds! Having to separate and wash the seeds adds a step, but one that is well worth it. Rinse seeds with water, pat them dry, and combine 1 cup with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread out this mixture on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 275 degrees. Once cool, both children and adults will love snacking on these.
Once seeds and pulp are removed, squash halves can be placed face down with about 1/4 inch water in a baking pan and baked, broiled or microwaved. Once cooked, cut the flesh away from the skin in bite-size pieces or scoop it out with a spoon. Then the fun begins.
-Acorn squash has a slightly sweet flavor that combines well with maple syrup and chopped walnuts.
-Butternut squash, with its slight nutty flavor, is a favorite for creamy soup. Just blend pieces with broth and onions along with spices. You can be creative and use spices ranging from curry powder to nutmeg for a variety of tastes.
-Spaghetti squash has a mild flavor and a crunchy texture, making it a perfect substitute for spaghetti topped with marinara sauce.
-Pumpkin pulp is easy to puree and add to pancakes and muffins.
-Hubbard and delicata are tasty drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Did I mention squash is nutritious? One cup of cooked winter squash has more potassium than a banana, more vitamin C than a tomato, more fiber than an apple, and as much vitamin A as a serving of carrots. Now that’s a super food!
Roasted Butternut Squash, Sweet Potatoes and Onions
- 2 Cups Butternut Squash, cut in 1 inch cubes (about 1 medium butternut squash)
- 2 Cups Sweet Potatoes, cut in 1 inch cubes (about 2 medium potatoes) *
- 1 Medium to large red onion, quartered
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 Tsp Fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 400 °.
- In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except the olive oil. Add enough olive oil to coat the squash, sweet potatoes and onions. Mix well.
- Pour into a 9 X 13 casserole dish in a single layer.**
- Cook for 10 – 15 minutes and stir.
- Cook until butternut squash and potatoes are tender.
- Toss with thyme and serve
* I used white sweet potatoes because I like the creamy texture of a white sweet potato and the color it adds to the dish.
** If you prefer more caramelization use a baking sheet to avoid any steaming that occurs when using a baking dish with higher sides.
And lastly, here’s a Cheat Sheet written by our friends at Modern Reston.
These delectable little jewels are Pinkeye Purple Hull Peas. They are categorized as cowpeas just like their cousins, Crowder peas and black-eyed peas. Most often they are simply called purple hull peas.
Actually there is some debate whether they are peas or beans. After a lot of internet surfing it appears that whether the seed, which is the thing we eat, is round or oval/kidney shaped dictates whether it is called a pea or a bean. Peas are round. Beans are oval. (Source: University of Minnesota Extension)
But this same publication from the University of Minnesota Extension says black-eyed peas are round and therefore a pea. The Library of Congress emphatically categorizes a black-eyed pea as a bean. (Source: Library of Congress) Since the Purple Hull Pea is closely related and similarly shaped to the black-eyed pea this leaves our Purple Hull Pea without a true identity.
But what you can’t argue about is just how delicious Purple Hull Peas are. We sell our freshly picked Purple Hull Peas still in their pod. Very often we also have shelled Purple Hull Peas in little clear plastic containers.
Shelled Purple Hull Peas should be refrigerated and should be good for a couple days before you cook them. If you’re not going to cook them right away it might be best to buy them whole and shell them right before you cook them. They can be stored on your counter for 4 to 5 days.
When buying unshelled Purple Hull Peas it’s good to know that as the hull turns purple the peas inside become firmer and easier to get out. The flavor of the peas in the purple hulls is a little more intense than their slightly immature green hulled companions. Both are good to eat, especially when you combine the two.
And speaking of good to eat, here’s a healthy Pinkeye Purple Hull Pea Soup recipe that’s a favorite at the farm. While we still have field tomatoes at the market you can create a tomato based soup that uses our summer tomatoes and our fall purple hull peas.
Pinkeye Purple Hull Soup
- 2 medium tomatoes
- ¼ onion
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- Fresh Pint Pinkeye Purple Hull peas, rinsed
- 3 – 4 slices bacon, cut in 2 – 3 inch pieces
- Cilantro for garnish
- Blend tomatoes, onion and garlic* in food processor.
- Put purple hull peas in a pot, add 3 – 4 cups of water, and bring to boil, turn down to medium heat and continue cooking at a rolling boil for 15 minutes.
- Cook bacon in Dutch oven or soup pot. Remove bacon when crisp and discard bacon grease from pot.
- Add tomato mixture to Dutch oven, cook for 10 minutes and let tomato mixture reduce.
- Add purple hull peas and the liquid they were cooked in to Dutch oven. Crumble bacon into pot, reserving some for garnish.
- Cook soup about 10 minutes to combine flavors.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and a few pieces of crumbled bacon.
*If you are not a fan of garlic, you can sauté the garlic in ½ Tbsp. of the bacon grease for a milder garlic flavor.