8/3-8/5/2017: Tiny pasta & bright tomatoes


Quick things:

Scroll down for the list of things we’ll have this week!

This week’s availability list from Village Acres Farm came with a note next to the sungolds: “Help! We have lots!” I love that kind of note, almost as much as I love sungolds.

And so in this week’s post, I endeavor to enlist your help in helping Deb at Village Acres find good homes for her sungold cherry tomatoes. Have you seen them? They’re so adorable, you can’t possibly let them go homeless!

More to the point, they’re also delicious. “These are like candy!” I hear many times a weekend. I probably say it a lot, too. And they really are. I like to have a pint in the fridge or on the counter at all times so I can pop a few in my mouth every time I pass through the kitchen. Snacking, though, is not the only thing you can do with them.

Among the many options is a recipe so near and dear to my heart, I cannot believe I’ve never written about it before. I basically learned to cook by following recipes first from like, the back of the instant rice bag, and then recipes given to me by friends and family, and then recipes from epicurious.com, back in the days when there weren’t really very many good cooking websites (my how times have changed!). Prior to encountering Epicurious, I could make a totally edible dinner, but I never made anything that was really good.

Gourmet’s “Orzo with Feta and Cherry Tomatoes” felt like my first major coup. It’s an incredibly simple recipe, and incredibly versatile. In the early days, I didn’t understand why anyone would make something that included tomatoes, and not use basil, so I subbed basil for the parsley. I often used balsamic vinegar instead of red wine, or a combination. I’ve since developed a greater appreciation for parsley, though, and for the comparative lightness of a red wine vinegar, and now I more often make it as written. But no matter what, it’s always delicious. It became my go-to potluck dish, because its flavors are best at room temperature, and it’s easy to make a lot. It goes well with just about anything else you’d want to eat in the summer, whether it’s grilled sausages, corn on the cob, shrimp, or, seriously, anything else. I’ve made this dozens of times over the years, sometimes twice in one week because when it was gone I wanted more.

Last night, I made a double batch of it, planning to take it to a friend’s house where it would serve seven or eight people. Dinner got derailed, so instead Dusty and I are eating the leftovers. I’m not sad. (I mean, I am that we didn’t get to see our people, but not that we have to eat all the pasta ourselves.)

So what I’m saying is, I think that you, too, should make this orzo with feta and cherry tomatoes, and here are my tips:

  • Obviously you should use sungold tomatoes. A whole pint, even though the recipe only calls for a half pint. (And maybe more — last night I doubled the recipe and quadrupled the sungolds, and it could have taken more tomatoes.) Since they’re a little smaller than standard cherry tomatoes, just cut ’em in half rather than quartering. Leave the littlest ones whole.
  • Go heavy on the parsley, and probably on the garlic (unless you don’t want garlic breath).
  • I like to mix up the order — don’t add the tomatoes until *after* everything else (including the pasta) is mixed together. The tomatoes are the one piece of this that don’t need to be coated with an acidic dressing, so by waiting they can retain a little more of their own flavor.
  • You can use any tiny pasta. Orzo is great, but last night I used farfellini, and it’s great, too. Ditalini might even be okay. Whatever you want/have.
  • DO NOT listen to the reviews that talk about cooking the tomatoes. That’s a totally different recipe. I bet it’s great, but it’s not this one.
  • DO NOT skip the pine nuts! They are what really takes this to another level. You can toast them in the oven if you’re too easily distracted to be trusted with toasting them on the stove (me).
  • Do stretch your comfort with food safety (I mean, there’s nothing in here that can hurt you) by letting it sit around at room temperature for a while before eating. It gets so much better with time, but not so much with refrigeration.
  • If you do fall in love with this and find that you have to make it out of season with grocery store tomatoes, get those little grape tomatoes. They’re about the same size as sungolds, and they’re the one grocery store tomato that’s still pretty edible in February.

This weekend I’m going to try to tackle the Food in Jars Yellow Tomato & Basil Jam, and then when the current leftovers are gone, I’ll go with an Epicurious recipe I haven’t made before, a Batali-inspired Pasta with Sun Gold Tomatoes. In addition, of course, to the pint I keep for snacking. 🙂

-Julia


Produce

Beans & Peas

  • Green Beans

Braising/Cooking Greens

  • Collard Greens
  • Green Curly Kale

Fruit

  • Cantaloupe
  • Peaches
  • “Ugly” peaches, for preserving (limited quantities)
  • Watermelons

Herbs

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Parsley

Mushrooms

  • Cremini
  • White
  • Oyster
  • Shiitake

Onions & Garlic

  • Fresh Garlic
  • Fresh Red Onions
  • Fresh Sweet White Onions
  • Scallions
  • Shallots

Other

  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers (urgent use)
  • Italian Eggplant
  • Fairytale Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Okra
  • Sweet Corn
  • Tomatillos

Peppers

  • Mixed Bell Peppers
  • New Mexico Green Chilies (urgent use)
  • Hungarian Wax (urgent use)
  • Jalapeno
  • Poblanos

Potatoes

Roots

  • Red and Gold Beets
  • Bunched Carrots

Salad Greens

Squash

  • Green Zucchini (very limited quantities)
  • Patty Pan Squash (urgent use)
  • Mixed Baby Summer Squash (arriving mid-day Friday)

Tomatoes

  • Red Tomatoes
  • San Marzano Plum Tomatoes
  • Bulk Tomato Seconds (pre-order only!)
  • Mixed Cherry Tomatoes
  • Sungold Cherry Tomatoes

Bread

 

McGrath’s Brick Oven Bakehouse
(fresh Friday & Saturday)

  • McGrath’s Original
  • Sesame Original
  • Irish Oatmeal Pan Bread
  • Prairie Bread
  • American Harvest
  • Cheesy Bread
  • Baguettes (fresh Saturday only; available frozen every day)
Talking Breads
(fresh Thursday)

  • Batard
  • Ciabatta
  • Miche
  • Seeded

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