The Chicago Bears’ first preseason game was August 8. The beginning of football season brings a huge wave of mixed emotions. I love football, and I’m devoted to the Monsters of the Midway, but I know the parade of blue and orange Forte, Cutler, and Urlacher jerseys headed into Soldier Field signals fall is coming, followed closely by a cold, snowy winter.
For now, though, the weather is warm, and I’m delighted that my CSA share is filled with tomatoes, sweet corn, and peppers. Juicy in-season tomatoes are the best tomatoes I eat all year. I’ve been looking forward to them for months and have been dreaming of making the tomato pie in my Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook.
For me, cookbooks are hit or miss. Paging through them in a bookstore, they look so tempting. But sometimes, I make two or three recipes and the book goes on the shelf. The flip side of that is the stack of cherished cookbooks, filled with go-to recipes. My Tupelo Honey cookbook is one of those. In case you’re curious, my other two favorites are Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican and Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill cookbook. I’ve made almost every recipe in these three, and they’ve never let me down.
The tomato pie was decadent. It’s definitely not an every-week meal, but it was such a treat—layers of flavorful tomatoes and cheese. It smelled so good baking that my mouth watered while I waited for it to come out of the oven. On the side were summer squash oven chips—slices of summer squash breaded in panko and Parmesan and baked.
The box also contained sweet corn, Russian blue potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, dragon tongue beans, chocolate bell peppers, and golden beets.
Several weeks in a row of cucumbers gives me fits. By the time I’ve made pickles, cucumber salad, and chilled cucumber soup, which is what happened with last week’s cukes, I’m usually out of ideas. I often resort to putting sliced cucumbers on sandwiches with herby cream cheese and smoked salmon. This week, however, I made a spicy cucumber salsa to serve with bell pepper rellenos and roasted corn with lime butter.
I don’t have any difficulty figuring out what to do with shishito peppers. They are delicious grilled. I alternated them with chunks of flatiron steak on skewers, brushed the kebabs with oil, and sprinkled on a seasoning salt.
The beets were roasted and used in a beet salad. Clearly, I default to beet salad, but honestly, it’s my favorite way to eat them, and I’m not sure it could ever get boring.
Dragon tongue beans are one of those items that make it fun to be part of a CSA. They are a heirloom wax bean that’s about six to eight inches long, wide and flat. They are yellow with purple stripes that, unfortunately, mostly disappear when blanched. They’re still tasty, though, especially when tossed with a lemony, mustardy dressing.
I’m enjoying everything, and there are exciting things to come. On tap for next week: shell beans.