Fresh Sweet Corn Relish: a “no cooking needed” recipe!

picture of recipe ingredients
The ingredients, with option olive that I did not use for the market demo

In honor of the summery weather and full harvest time, I made a fresh corn relish highlighting a number of veggies along with, of course, fresh corn. It was a bit hit! And, for once, I made the recipe as written. Well, almost. <grin>

Quick, easy, tasty, it can be a side dish, a dip, a topping or garnish for fish, (salmon comes to my mind) pork, or whatever strikes your fancy. Here it is, with a few notes.

2 cups fresh corn kernels from the cob (I used 4 ears) *
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup finely diced tomatoes
1/3 cup deseeded, deveined, finely diced jalapeno or other hot pepper.**
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or 1 tablespoon dried – use the olive oil if using dried basil)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

* Click HERE  for a video showing how to get kernels off the cob without the mess!

**I used moon peppers, more commonly called Bishop’s crown peppers, from Flats Mentor Farm.

Toss together the corn kernels, finely diced red bell pepper, red onion, tomatoes, and hot pepper.

picture of fresh corn relish
Ready to eat!

Mix the vinegar, salt, pepper, and basil together in a separate bowl and then add to the veggies and toss to cover.

It is ready to eat, but you can also store, covered, in the fridge for up to 4-5 days or more, but keep an eye on the tomatoes!

samples in cups

Fun with Kale. Really! Secret Sauté Ingredient and a Quick “Massage”

ingredients in the saute
All the ingredients except the soy sauce!

I actually converted a few “I hate kale” folks and had a toddler coming back for 3rds! I based my sauté recipe on The Sauteed Kale Recipe that Converts Kale-Haters, which has butter or ghee as the cooking oil, along with shallots, soy sauce, and Dijon mustard as the secret ingredients for success.

Since I stay vegan for our demos and with no shallots available at the time, I had to make a few adjustments. Here is the recipe I used at the market. In contrast to the recipe I put on the bulletin board during the demo, I used a medium-largish onion, doubled the amounts of soy sauce and mustard, and cooked the onions slow and low for about 25 minutes so they just started to caramelize. I knew that doing this with the onions would give a bit of a creamy texture and sweetness that, while not a substitute for what butter can bring, brought a special something beyond just a quick cook of the onions in the olive oil.

2-3 Tbsp Olive oil
1 medium to large onion
1-2 large garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp. Old School Kitchen’s Maple Bourbon Mustard *
1 bunch of kale, rinsed and chopped **
water as needed
salt and black pepper, to taste
* Use whatever mustard you like
**Don’t dry the kale; the water droplets will help it steam as cooking.

Remove leaves from stems and chop the kale into small pieces.

onions in pan
I used a whole onion. Why not?

Heat the oil or fat over medium heat in a saute pan with high sides or a dutch oven.

Add the onion, lower heat, and cook slow and low for at least 20 minutes to bring out sweetness – longer if you have time to caramelize them a bit more. Bring the heat up and add the garlic, cooking briefly until fragrant, about a minute.

Add the chopped kale and stir to coat in the oil. Add the tamari or soy sauce and mustard, and stir again.

finished dish of sauteed kale
Done!

Sauté, stirring frequently, until the kale is tender, about 8-10 minutes or to how you like it. If the kale starts to stick to the pan, add a couple tablespoons of water. This will help soften the kale, and the water will cook off.

Season with salt and pepper before serving and enjoy…But wait, what was that about a massage?

Rubbed or massaged kale
Rubbed or massaged kale

To season and soften kale without cooking, simply remove the leaves from the stems and chop the leaves, add a bit of olive oil, salt (I used and would recommend kosher salt if you have it) and a squeeze of lemon juice. Then rub or “massage” with your fingers for a few minutes or more. You can use it alone as a salad green (ooo, I can taste this with walnuts and apples!) or in a salad mix, add to a stir fry, or use the rubbed leaves to make kale chips!

Lemongrass! What to do with it? For one, a Swiss Chard Sauté

picture of ingredients
The ingredients

This past week, I wanted to highlight lemongrass, a tropical grass that is also grown here in Massachusetts by our Flats Mentor Farm farmers.

The easiest way to enjoy lemongrass is to make a tea of the bulb, stalk, and/or leaves, with the latter being the choice for our Saturday morning beverage. It could not be easier: cut the dark green tops off the stalks, put them in a pot of water, bring to a boil, and then simmer or just turn off the heat (as I did) and let it steep! Delicious hot or warm, it also makes a refreshing iced tea.

pic of lemongrass tea
Lemongrass Tea!

Our main dish used lemongrass to add its essence to sautéed Swiss chard, to which I also added sweet yellow peppers. I put 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a big frying pan, added 2 tablespoons of sliced, then crushed, then finely minced lemongrass bulb, which is the bottom few inches minus the end of the bulb, which you chop off.

This was done at a low temperature – just a bit of movement in the oil, for about 20 minutes. I then added sliced sweet yellow pepper, using a whole one along with leaves from a bunch (10-12 stalks) of Swiss chard. I chopped both the chard and peppers small so they would fit into the demo cups, but you can size as desired.

Once the lemongrass had infused in the olive oil, I turned the heat up to medium high and added the pepper slices and cooked for a few minutes, then added the chard and let it cook down and long enough get soft and deep in flavor, about 10 minutes or more, turning the heat down if it looked like things might get brown.

A touch of salt finished it off, although you could certainly add seasonings to taste, as well as tofu, chicken, or another protein for a complete meal. Note: the infused oil is not lemony as is the tea, but it adds a “something extra” to the flavor base. According to many recipes sites, that “something” is what you might feel is missing if you make Thai food without using lemongrass.

The bulb and stem, and, even the leaves can be used to season, soups, stews, and curries. Just note that the stalk and leaves must be removed after cooking, as well as the bulb if not minced. Too tough to chew! If not mincing the bulb, slice and crush before using.

You can use 1 Tbsp minced lemongrass bulb for 1 tsp lemon zest, and, I discovered that lemongrass vodka is a thing, one that I intend to try. Click HERE for one way of making it.

Can’t use what you buy all at once? No fear! It freezes well. Just cut off the leaves (make tea!) and wrap the bottom 6-8 inches for later use.

To end, here is a link to a handy chart showing how to prep lemongrass:
How to Prepare Lemongrass

Watermelon, Peach, and Tomato Salad: Delectably Refreshing

The ingredients
The ingredients except for the olive oil. Melon from Farmer Dave’s, tomatoes from Kelly’s Farm, and peaches from Fay Mountain Farm.

When Farmer Jane of Farmer Dave’s said that they would have a lot of watermelon, peaches, and tomatoes, I typed those words into a search engine and voila! I discovered that Watermelon, Peach, and Tomato Salad is a “thing.” That was easy! I made a few changes from the original recipe created by Anne Byrn for The Old Mill to keep things dairy and nut-free, and left out fresh basil and mint since none of the former was available and not much of the latter. But truly, the produce shines on its own. Just add or adjust ingredients to suit your taste.




Here are the ingredients from the original recipe with my changed noted in parentheses:

6 cups seedless watermelon chunks, cut into 1-inch chunks
4 cups good, ripe heirloom tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups sliced, peeled ripe peaches
6 cups fresh arugula or your favorite salad greens (I used a bunch chopped small for sample servings)
4 tablespoons olive oil (I used 2 T)
1 1/2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar (I used 1 T)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or basil, or a combination (if desired)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (if desired)
2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds (if desired or use other toppings)

bowls of watermelon and tomato, salted.
Salted and sitting for 1/2 an hour.

Place the watermelon and tomatoes in a mixing bowl and season with salt. Toss to coat, and let the fruit sit for 30 minutes. Drain well.
Fold the peaches into the watermelon and tomato mixture. To serve, spoon the fruit on top of the salad greens. Drizzle with oil and vinegar. Garnish the top with chopped fresh herbs, feta cheese, and toasted almonds. NOTE: I drained again after adding the peaches, and at least once more time during the demo. Note to self – save the liquid. It will make great base for a mixed drink!

Here are some handy notes excerpted from/based on those in the original recipe:

Use fresh, ripe fruits of any color and sprinkle the watermelon and tomatoes with a little kosher salt ahead of time. It not only draws out the moisture, but it intensifies the flavor of the fruit.
Prepare ingredients separately. Once you are ready to serve, pile the watermelon, peaches, and tomatoes on top of your favorite lettuce, sprinkle with the oil, vinegar and fresh herbs, and then garnish with the feta and almonds, if using the latter two.
Don’t have feta? Use cubes of fresh mozzarella. Or use toasted pecans instead of the almonds. And if you don’t have basil or mint, use what you have – chives, dill, or parsley. There could not be a more adaptable, stunning, and easy-to-fix salad that salutes the end of summer in a big way.

sample serving of recipe

This really is a lovely recipe as written or as a basis for your own ideas or available ingredients. The stars of the recipe should be available from our farmers for at least a few more weeks, so keep this one in mind to enjoy it with the freshest of fruits and greens.

Tomato Sauce with Thai Basil (or regular Basil): Quick, Thick, and Easy!

the fresh ingredients.
The ingredients

WOW, this recipe sure is a winner! I was told by one shopper that I should mass produce and sell it. It really is that good. And you can make it, too, in under an hour.

The secret is twofold. First, straining after a short cooking time, cooking just the liquid down separately and then adding the reserved pulp back in means intense flavor from the cooked down liquid and fresh flavor and texture from the tomatoes and other ingredients that don’w actually get cooked for all that long. Second, I really liked the addition of Thai basil to this simple recipe. You can’t really taste the anise/fennel flavor of the Thais basil but it lends something special to the dish. Although, you could certainly make a fabulous sauce using all regular basil, with our without additional fresh herbs of your choice. And, don’t take the amounts in the recipe as written in stone. Pinch and handful measurements will work fine.

It is a great way to make sauce when you don’t have a lot of time. It is also a great way to use up tomatoes in this season of abundance. This recipe is perfect for freezing, too. Here is the recipe:

The first simmer

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 smallish onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped or torn fresh Thai basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped or torn fresh basil leaves
1/8 cup chopped or torn fresh parsley
5 lbs slicing tomatoes
5-6 turns of the black pepper mill, to taste
1/2 tsp salt or to taste

Slice the tomatoes in half, removing core, and grate into a large bowl, sliced side on the biggest hole side of the grater. Discard skins.
Heat olive oil, add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

The liquid just about cooked down. I added some extra Thai basil leaves to the liquid to infuse a bit more flavor.

Strain mixture through a mesh strainer, in batches as need to get as much liquid out as possible. Reserve the pulp and pour the liquid back into the pan and simmer until reduced until the liquid is thick enough to stay apart so you can see the pan for a few moments after running a spoon along the bottom.

Thick sauce! So good!

Add the pulp back and heat through. That’s it! Make a big batch and freeze some.