FLS reporter Katie Thisdell serves up news on local food finds, tales from home cooks and inspiration to help you have fun in your own kitchen.
CSA Journal: Make a summer sandwich bar.
This week’s haul from Snead’s Farm CSA:
1/2 flat of peppers
2 quarts of peaches
14 ears of corn
1/2 flat of blackberries and raspberries
Whether it’s a road trip to an air-conditioned museum, a family evening at the pool or a quick lunch outside on a rare mild day, opportunities for impromptu picnics are frequent in the summer.
Sure, you could grab greasy fast food bags, but I always think it’s nice to have a little something special in that basket when you’re ready to eat.
You don’t want to be stuck slaving away when you’re ready to pack up and go, but with a little prep work ahead of time, you can have what I like to call a “sandwich bar” in your fridge, and be ready to whip up a variety of tasty, portable meals at a moment’s notice.
The summer vegetables that have been coming in my CSA share from Snead’s Farm present a lot of options for this. This week, in addition to another large helping of corn, we got an array of small peppers, some hot and some sweet.
I roasted some of the sweet peppers, along with an eggplant leftover from the week before, to provide some soft, flavorful veggies for my sandwich bar.
While crisp, fresh vegetables like lettuce are an important sandwich component, the soft texture and concentrated flavor of roasted vegetables can really add a lot to these creations.
For another component, I turned not to my CSA box, but to my garden. I stuck some basil, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, garlic and walnuts in a food processor with a good portion of mayonnaise.
This pesto mayo is a great thing to stash in the fridge, along with your roasted veggies, to bring your sandwiches out of the ordinary. Don’t think it’s just for cold sandwiches. Try some on your next grilled cheese.
I rounded things out with a little help from the supermarket. Crusty whole-grain rolls, provolone cheese slices and prosciutto aren’t on my everyday grocery list, but all of these things can really add zip to sandwiches, and give you a break from the same old turkey and cheese.
Of course, I’m leaving out the No. 1 summer sandwich treat–fresh-picked tomatoes. We haven’t had any from our CSA for the past few weeks, but there are some great-looking ones in all sizes and colors out at farmers markets these days.
If it’s possible to get tired of eating these beauties fresh, you can roast these, too. Try tossing cherry tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic and letting them roast at a low temperature, like 225 degrees for a couple of hours (I wouldn’t do this at the hottest point of the day, though, that’s a long time to have the oven on.).
You can use these on sandwiches, pizzas, pasta or salads.
Summer’s endless array of activities often makes planning elaborate meals a drag. But if you use a moment here and a moment there to prep some tasty toppings, you can have the fixings to make sandwiches worthy of any occasion.
1 cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
juice of half a lemon
pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic
1 cup mayonnaise
Combine first six ingredients in a food processor. Pulse about five times, until evenly ground together. Add mayonaise and run processor until mixture is smooth. Keep in the refrigerator.
I usually roast vegetables at 425 to 450 degrees.
For peppers – Just wash them and put them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place in a pre-heated oven. You’ll need only a half hour for small peppers, while bell peppers will require an entire hour. Take them out of the oven, then roll up the foil and seal while you let them cool enough so you can handle them. Remove seeds, stems and skins and store the meat in the refrigerator.
For eggplant – Slice and toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic. Roast around 30 minutes. Store roasted slices in refrigerator.