From the Garden this Week…

From the Garden this Week…

Summer Squash, Sweet Peppers, Cucumbers, Carrots, Young Beets, Heirloom Tomatoes, Green Onions, Basil

Coming Soon…Sweet Corn, Cantaloupe

Using your Produce… by Julie Moreno

In the heart of summer, we have lots of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers coming out of the garden every week. These ingredients come together perfectly, and are even better together, in the classic Spanish soup, Gazpacho. Gazpacho is a very old dish that originally was intended to make stale bread palatable, by soaking the bread with vinegar, olive oil, garlic and ripe vegetables. When you see many recipes online, they often call for some kind of canned tomato product, that helps to make the dish redder, instead of pink, but try not to get focused on the color, even once the tomatoes were included, the soup should be a pink color. The bread, which is part of the origins of Gazpacho, can be omitted; it will just make the soup slightly thinner. Somewhere along the line, I saw the addition of almonds, which gives the soup more nutrition and a little texture. You can serve it as a puree or try dressing up the dish with garnishes at the end like chilled shrimp and avocado cubes. I make this all though the summer and have even started to call it a salad smoothie, which I love to have for lunch when it’s really hot.

Gazpacho

3 large tomatoes

2 small bell peppers

¼ cup chopped onion

1 garlic clove

1 small cucumber

1 jalapeno pepper (optional)

¼ cup almonds

½ cup bread cubes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2-3 teaspoons wine or cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup water

Blend all ingredients together in the blender until liquefied. Chill if desired and serve. This will make about 20-24 ounces, enough for 2 to 3 8-ounce servings. If you need more, feel free to increase ingredients to your taste.

Spanish PiperadeUse this with eggs or as a topping to steak or chicken

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion (chopped)

5-6 sweet peppers (seeded and chopped)

2 cloves garlic (crushed and finely chopped)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 large tomatoes, diced

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion, peppers, garlic, salt, paprika, black pepper, and sugar, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through. Add the tomatoes to the cooked vegetables and simmer the mixture, uncovered, for 15 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce has thickened.

Basil Uses and Storage …

Basil is one of the many tastes of summer. In addition to the Genovese Basil that you have seen the past few weeks we will have Thai Basil and Purple Basil later in the summer. The best way to store basil at home is in a glass of water on your counter, just like you would for flowers, cut the stems on the bias to help it take up a little extra water. If you don’t use it, it will even start to grow roots, and you can plant it in the garden. People usually think of Italian cooking when using basil, but it is also a key ingredient in many Asian dishes. Try adding a few roughly chopped leaves to a salad or as a garnish to any plate of food, like parsley. Because it bruises easily, cut it just before serving. This basic pesto recipe is great for using a whole bunch.

Basil Pesto

2-3 cups packed basil leaves

1-2 cloves garlic

juice of one lemon

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup toasted walnuts

¼ cup grated cheese

¼ cup olive oil

Blend all together in a blender. Enjoy with pasta, beans, rice, over seafood, chicken or on toasted bread.

Metaphors of Soil and Soul…by Anna Hazen

Who is my neighbor?

This timeless question leads us right into the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke. It generally encourages us to give consideration to the people we have neglected to care for or shows us how diverse peoples’ lives become intertwined in unexpected ways. But what if neighborliness were extended not only to fellow humans, but to all of creation - the lilies of the field, birds of the air, ants on the eggplant… all of which are part of God’s good creation?

It is easy to dismiss much of soil and animal life as un-important, or even as if they were our enemies. Yet we are actually fed and cared for by the earth’s creatures in multitudes of ways we often don’t see or understand. A healthy plant, which produces a healthy harvest, depends on millions of other organisms in the soil, not to mention healthy air and a stable climate. If we approach farming with the intent to kill everything which might want to share the bounty of the earth with us, we can all too easily end up destroying the whole neighborhood of living things which keep a piece of land productive over generations.

Asking “who is my neighbor” in a farming context invites us to stop and take a good look at the beings we would find it easy to pass by on the side of the road and instead recognize them as valued neighbors. Maintaining a balance between productivity for humans and the health of the ecological neighborhood can be very tricky. It is just as difficult to recognize how much we rely on our human neighbors and how much we need to care for them. In this case however, I think soil health and spiritual health are not all that far apart. It might not be easy, but it’s worth the effort.

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Wellspring Charitable Gardens

Oakdale, CA 95361, USA

209-607-1887

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