Local Ingredients for the Week of 9/16/18

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers featuring organic bell peppers from Red Fire Farm, organic scallions from Kitchen Garden Farm, feta cheese from Narragansett Creamery & cumin from The Spice Mill.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers featuring organic bell peppers from Red Fire Farm, organic scallions from Kitchen Garden Farm, feta cheese from Narragansett Creamery & cumin from The Spice Mill.

Each week, we strive to include as many local ingredients in our meal kits as possible. This often means we source ingredients just a few days before delivery. If you’re a regular customer, you’ve seen our lists of local ingredients in your box letters. Now, we’ll be publishing the list each week as we source. Please note: ingredient sources are subject to change due to last-minute availability!

  • Organic Bell Pepper from Red Fire Farm in Granby, MA. – Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
  • Organic Cherry Tomatoes from Long Wind Farm in Thetford, VT. – Chicken Caesar Salad
  • Organic Romaine Lettuce from Harlow Farm in Westminster, VT. – Chicken Caesar Salad
  • Organic Scallions from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Beef Bulgogi, Fresh Corn & Basil Pasta, Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
  • Organic Swiss Chard from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Bangers & Mash by Joshua Smith
  • British Bangers from New England Charcuterie in Waltham, MA. – Bangers & Mash by Joshua Smith
  • Locally Caught Whitefish from Red’s Best in Boston, MA. – Miso Glazed Fish with Lime Beurre Blanc
  • Butter from Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT. – Miso Glazed Fish with Lime Beurre Blanc, Fresh Corn & Basil Pasta
  • Feta Cheese from Narragansett Creamery in Providence, RI. – Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
  • Sour Cream from Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT. – Bangers & Mash by Joshua Smith, Mushroom & Pepper Masala
  • Sourdough Bread from Pain D’Avignon in Hyannis, MA. – Chicken Caesar Salad
  • Cumin from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
  • Tandoori Seasoning from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – Mushroom & Pepper Masala
  • Fresh Orecchiette Pasta from Maria’s Gourmet in Malden, MA. – Fresh Corn & Basil Pasta

Local Ingredients for the Week of 9/9/18

Shrimp & Grits featuring shrimp from Red's Best, collard greens from Harlow Farm, Monterey Jack cheese from Cabot Creamery, hot sauce from Alex's Ugly Sauce, and southwest seasoning from The Spice Mill.

Shrimp & Grits featuring shrimp from Red’s Best, collard greens from Harlow Farm, Monterey Jack cheese from Cabot Creamery, hot sauce from Alex’s Ugly Sauce, and southwest seasoning from The Spice Mill.

Each week, we strive to include as many local ingredients in our meal kits as possible. This often means we source ingredients just a few days before delivery. If you’re a regular customer, you’ve seen our lists of local ingredients in your box letters. Now, we’ll be publishing the list each week as we source. Please note: ingredient sources are subject to change due to last-minute availability!

  • Red Bell Pepper from Red Fire Farm in Granby, MA. – Andalusian Pork & Peppers
  • Cherry Tomatoes from Warner Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Greek Barley Salad
  • Collard Greens from Harlow Farm in Westminster, VT. – Shrimp & Grits
  • Green Bell Pepper from Harlow Farm in Westminster, VT. – Sloppy Joes
  • Tomatillos from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Chicken Tinga Tacos
  • Shrimp from Red’s Best in Boston, MA. – Shrimp & Grits
  • Cage-Free Eggs from Maple Meadow Farm in Salisbury, VT. – White Bean Croquettes with Zucchini
  • Feta Cheese from Narragansett Creamery in Providence, RI. – Chicken Tinga Tacos
  • Monterey Jack Cheese from Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT. – Shrimp & Grits
  • French Sandwich Rolls from Pain D’Avignon in Hyannis, MA. – Seared Vegetable Banh Mi
  • Hamburger Buns from Pain D’Avignon in Hyannis, MA. – Sloppy Joes
  • Smoked Paprika from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – Andalusian Pork & Peppers, Sloppy Joes
  • Southwest Seasoning from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT. – Shrimp & Grits
  • Corn Tortillas from Cinco De Mayo in Chelsea, MA. – Chicken Tinga Tacos
  • Hot Sauce from Alex’s Ugly Sauce in Boston, MA. – Shrimp & Grits
  • Sriracha from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Seared Vegetable Banh Mi
  • Eggplant from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA. – Seared Vegetable Banh Mi

Local Ingredients for the Week of 8/19/18

Cuban Pork & Yellow Rice featuring local ingredients from Fresh Box Farms, Pete's Greens, Kitchen Garden Farm & The Spice Mill

Cuban Pork & Yellow Rice featuring local ingredients from Fresh Box Farms, Pete’s Greens, Kitchen Garden Farm & The Spice Mill

Each week, we strive to include as many local ingredients in our meal kits as possible. This often means we source ingredients just a few days before delivery. If you’re a regular customer, you’ve seen our lists of local ingredients in your box letters. Now, we’ll be publishing the list each week as we source. Please note: ingredient sources are subject to change due to last-minute availability!

  • Baby Spinach from Fresh Box Farms in Millis, MA – Cuban Pork and Yellow Rice
  • Organic Green Bell Pepper from Pete’s Greens in Waterbury, VT – Tex-Mex Macaroni and Cheese
  • Organic Cucumber from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA – Lentil Fattoush
  • Organic Easter Egg Radishes from Pete’s Greens in Waterbury, VT- Cuban Pork and Yellow Rice
  • Organic Japanese Eggplant from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA – Thai Curry with Black Rice
  • Organic Heirloom Tomatoes from Queen’s Greens in Amherst, MA – Lentil Fattoush
  • Shrimp from Red’s Best in Boston, MA – Southwest Shrimp Tacos with Lime Crema
  • Goat Cheese from Vermont Creamery in Websterville, VT – Poached Chicken with Haricots Verts
  • Monterey Jack Cheese from Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT – Tex-Mex Macaroni and Cheese
  • Sour Cream from Cabot Creamery in Cabot, VT – Southwest Shrimp Tacos with Lime Crema
  • Pita from Middle East Bakery in Lawrence, MA – Lentil Fattoush
  • Chili Powder from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT – Tex-Mex Macaroni and Cheese
  • Cumin from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT – Cuban Pork and Yellow Rice
  • Ras el Hanout from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT – Sweet Potato and Chickpea Tagine
  • Southwest Seasoning from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT – Southwest Shrimp Tacos with Lime Crema
  • Turmeric from The Spice Mill in Manchester, CT – Cuban Pork and Yellow Rice
  • Sriracha from Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA – Cuban Pork and Yellow Rice

Soup Solutions!

Winter is here and with it comes cold and flu season–a particularly bad one this year. We all gravitate towards a nice hot bowl of soup or broth when we’re under the weather, but why? Well, turns out that aside from soup’s warming and comforting factors, there is some evidence out there that chicken soup helps to treat the symptoms of a cold.

Studies have suggested that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties that help ease upper respiratory infections, while other studies have shown that the aroma, spices and heat from the soup can help clear your sinuses.

While the medicinal benefits of soup are up for debate, its health benefits aren’t. Soup provides a nutrient dense and healthful way of getting a meal in, especially when your body isn’t up for eating anything too hearty.

Not feeling great or just craving a warm bowl of soup? Just Add Cooking to the rescue!

You can check out our Add-On Marketplace, accessed via your Just Add Cooking Meal Planner, to find soup kits that make chicken or veggie soup quick and easy to throw together, along with a variety of healing bone broths from local purveyor Five Way Foods. Jonesing for a soup fix? Check out some of our favorite soup recipes!

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Avgolemono Soup

Put a little Greek into your chicken soup recipe. Avgolemono means “egg-lemon” sauce in Greek, thickened with egg and flavored with lemon. This Mediterranean take on chicken soup features chicken and orzo and is seasoned with dill.

Get the recipe here.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Get a little spice in your cold and flu remedy with delicious chicken tortilla soup. It’s a lovely combination of cumin, chili, coriander, garlic and Mexican oregano for a flavorful and hearty soup.

Get the Recipe Here

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Italian Wedding Soup

This comforting recipe has pork meatballs, savory chicken broth and hearty kale that’s sure to warm you up on these cold winter nights!

Get the Recipe Here

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Tomato Soup (with Grilled Cheese)

Nothing says comfort like soup and a grilled cheese! We’ve got a recipe for a delicious and simple tomato soup with a yummy grilled cheese on the side.

Get the Recipe Here

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Turkey Lion’s Head Meatball Soup

This soup’s unusual name is derived from the meatball’s shape, which resembles the head of a lion. We’ve created a recipe with lighter turkey meatballs and added earthy mushrooms and bok choy. Slightly sweet, savory and hearty, this is a perfect take on comfort food soup!

Get the Recipe Here

Fresh Homemade Salad Dressing Ideas

One of the big keys to healthy eating is bringing delicious, fresh flavors to the table as often as possible. Keeping food varied and flavorful is key to staying interested. And since a huge part of many people’s meal plans can be salads, especially for lunch or a quick dinner, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite, homemade salad dressings for you to give a whirl.
These salad dressings can be made with ingredients you likely have around your kitchen and are as simple as measuring and whisking together. We’re including a few suggestions for salad ingredients that pair well as well as links to Just Add Cooking recipes that you can try, but feel free to get creative and experiment!

 

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Fall Harvest Salad Dressing

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Whisk all ingredients together.
Pairs well with fall flavors like roasted root veggies, sharp cheddar and roasted nuts. Try it in our Fall Harvest Salad.

 

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Rosemary Dressing

1 clove of garlic (minced)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (pick leaves from stem and chop)
½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tbsp red wine vinegar
1½ tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Whisk all ingredients together.
Pairs well with almost anything! Try it with a protein-topped bowl or in our Beef & Bread Salad.

 

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Massaged Kale Dressing

Not sure how to get kale to be tender and delicious without cooking it? Try massaging it!

2 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 tbsp olive oil

Add garlic to a cold skillet with 2 tbsp olive oil. Turn heat to medium and slowly stir the garlic. Sauté until light brown and fragrant, but do not let the garlic burn. Add the hot oil and garlic to the bowl of kale leaves. Add the juice of 1/2 a lemon and 1/4 tsp salt to the kale. Stir to combine and make sure the oil is no longer hot. Using your hands, massage the salt and dressing into the kale for a few minutes. Let rest until plating.

 

caribbeanchickensalad_wide

Tropical Salad Dressing

1 lime
2 tbsp mayonnaise
salt and pepper
Zest ½ lime. Combine lime zest in a large bowl with mayonnaise, and juice from ½ a lime. Whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pairs well with spicy flavors (it cools them down) and fruit toppings. Try it in our Caribbean Chicken Salad recipe.

 

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Mint Greek Dressing

1-2 sprigs mint
1 shallot
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon
salt and pepper
 
Remove leaves from 1-2 sprigs of mint and finely chop. You should end up with at least 2 tbsp mint. Peel and thinly slice the shallot lengthwise. In a large bowl whisk together 2 tbsp olive oil, zest and juice of the lemon, shallot, and chopped mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
Pairs well with almost any fresh veggies and plays well with salty feta. Try it in our Greek Warm Barley Salad.

Tips for Cooking with Pumpkin

pumpkin recipesPumpkin: it’s the ubiquitous seasonal ingredient popping up everywhere from lattes to ravioli. You’ve probably tried a pumpkin-infused concoction at your local Starbucks or perhaps out at dinner, but what about incorporating pumpkin into your own cooking this fall? Don’t be intimidated by this big orange fruit (which is part of the squash family, as you might imagine). We’ve got a few tips for using it in your own cooking as well as some pumpkin facts to make cooking with it a bit more fun!

  • Choose the right type of pumpkin. Those cuties that you put on your front steps aren’t actually made for eating (though they are edible, they won’t taste particularly delicious). If you want to start from scratch, look for thinner-skinned varieties like Small Sugar, New England Pie and Long Island Cheese pumpkins. Pure, canned pumpkin is also a great way to incorporate it without all the work (but be careful not to mix that up with pumpkin pie filling which has sugar and lots of spices added!).
  • Using a whole pumpkin? Treat it like a squash. Cut into it, scoop out the gooey insides and seeds (which, when washed, can be toasted with spices for a delicious treat!), slice it up and roast, boil, or even microwave. Once the flesh is cooked and tender, separate it with a spoon.
  • Store your pumpkin in the fridge or freezer to use in multiple recipes. If you’re prepping a big batch of purees or prepared pumpkin, you can refrigerate it up to three days before using it. Freeze it and you’ve got six months to enjoy pumpkin!
  • Not sure how to use your pumpkin? It can really be added anywhere you’d like a rich flavor. Popular and fun uses include stirring puree into chili, creating a savory sauce for pasta, to flavor a bread or even using the puree as baby food! Of course, pumpkin pie is always a popular option.

Why cook with pumpkin? Consider these fun facts:

  • Pumpkin gives you a huge dose of Vitamin A. The vibrant color is a tip-off that pumpkin is rich in nutrients. Just a half cup serving (pureed, roasted or any way you like) gives you half your daily needs of Vitamin A, which is helpful for healthy vision.
  • Each pumpkin has around 500 seeds. Clean and roast them with spices (they’re delicious) to get a great dose of iron!
  • Pumpkins are 90% water, which means they are low in calories. They have a third the calories of sweet potatoes but boast more fiber than kale and more potassium than bananas. A veritable fall superfood!
  • This one is for the kids–we suggest you enlist them to scoop out the goop! Pumpkins are super-versatile. They can grow on six out of the seven continents, with the exception of Antarctica! (Yes, they even grow them in Alaska.) They originated in Central America.

Are you cooking with pumpkin this fall? Leave us your favorite recipes in the comments!

Q&A with Samantha Levin of Sam Lives! smoothies

Sam sampling on launch day in Portland, ME

If you received a Just Add Cooking box yesterday, you also got a fun surprise: a bottle of a brand new smoothie called Sam Lives! Sam Lives! describes itself as a wicked nutritious, delicious meal in a bottle. Here at Just Add Cooking, we’re always looking for local companies that are delivering on similar missions to ours: delivering fresh, real foods and making it easy to stay healthy. So we jumped at the chance to give you all a taste of Sam Lives!

We also had the chance to chat with Samantha Levin, the young, energetic founder of the company. She’s got a fun background that many of you New England locals may recognize (we’ll let her tell you about that) and lots of great initiative in bringing fresh juices full of both micro- and macronutrients to the masses. You can check out her smoothies at select Whole Foods in the Boston area. Take it away, Sam!

JAC: Give us your background/how you came up with SamLives?

Sam: In 1992, when I was two years old, my family named their juice business, Fresh Samantha, after me. What started as a small family operation in my grandparents’ basement in Maine, grew into a juice sensation! Now, I’m all grown up, and fresher than ever with my own blends – hence the name, Sam Lives! :) However, unlike Fresh Samantha and other standard smoothies and juices, Sam Lives! has all the macronutrients of a complete meal. And while most meal replacement shakes are made from artificial powders, Sam Lives! is made from fresh, real foods!

The idea to create a delicious and healthy meal for on the go came to me in college. I always found myself writing papers through lunch and running out the door without breakfast. As a major foodie and health nut, microwavable meals and ramen just didn’t cut it! In this fast-paced age, I knew I wasn’t alone in this dilemma, so I decided (with juice already in my blood!) to make smoothies that would actually fill you up and provide you with all the vital nutrients of a full meal.

JAC: Tell us a bit about your philosophy behind the smoothies?

Sam: Unlike most juices, cleanses, and smoothies that only have micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and living enzymes), we make sure our superfood smoothies have these nutrients along with all of the macronutrients necessary for a complete meal:

  • Plant-based proteins from shelled organic hemp seeds, not powder or soy. I make sure there’s a spoonful of whole organic hemp seeds in each bottle so you always get 6-8g of protein – more than a whole egg!
  • Good fats from organic extra virgin olive oil and organic hulled hemp seeds. These are actually known to help the body burn fat and better absorb vitamins and minerals!
  • Complex & unrefined carbs from fresh fruits and veggies – these give your body the energy to thrive!

We blend the fresh fruits, veggies, olive oil and seeds whole to hold onto essential nutrients, like fiber, that are lost when juicing.  We also focus on keeping the organic hemp seeds in each bottle whole, so that you have to chew them. This simple act promotes healthy digestion and releases enzymes that help your body absorb more nutrients! We use cold pressure, instead of heat, to crush pathogens but keep vitamins, minerals and enzymes alive!

For more detailed information on our health-conscious philosophy and process, check out our FAQ.

JAC: How do you come up with your recipes?

Sam: By creating a giant mess in my kitchen! In the chaos, I eventually find a combination of fresh fruits, veggies and seeds that make for a complete meal and delicious smoothie all in one!

My ultimate goal with each recipe is to help improve the American diet. I know (from personal experience!) that people don’t always have time to make themselves a meal during the work or school day. Rather than reaching for processed microwavable meals, fast food, or artificial meal replacement protein shakes, I hope they’ll pick up my wicked delicious, super nutritious meals in a bottle instead!

Bottle lineup 1
Fun fact: Sam’s mom creates all the illustrations for her brand – just as she did for the Fresh Samantha brand back in the 90’s!

 

 

Recipes to Get Kids Cooking (Part 1 of 2)

Kids cooking

At Just Add Cooking, bringing families together to cook is a major part of our mission. By increasing the number of meals families make at home, and making it easy and fun for them to cook from scratch by providing ingredients and recipes, we endeavor to get kids cooking, learning where their food comes from and developing healthier habits. Our friend Holly Pierce of The Soul Chef is back with a kid-friendly recipe round-up! Today is Part 1 of 2 and features some sweet treats–check back next week for some savory recipes!

Knowing how to cook is one of the most basic and important skills a child can learn. In addition to building their creative, problem-solving, organizational and attention skills, being in the kitchen teaches them how to approach a new situation, how to access and apply their creative resources, what steps to take if they make a mistake and how to work together with a group or another individual. It can help build confidence, instill a sense of joy and pride and at the very least, get them to eat their vegetables!

Being in the kitchen with kids is a terrific experience; one I highly recommend to anyone. Kids of all ages can find something to do in the kitchen from the very basics of helping mom stir a batter to making a grilled cheese sandwich to cooking a whole meal for the family. Start by giving them some basic and fundamental guidelines, setting ground rules and outlining safety procedures then work with them to create dishes and meals that cultivate and challenge their skills. Provide lots of encouragement and constructive direction along the way. And don’t forget to have a laugh or two while you’re at it.

This summer, spend some time in the kitchen with your favorite kid and create wonderful memories while you’re cooking up some delicious fun! These recipes are a great start.

Yogurt and Fresh Berry Parfaits

1 pint fresh berries, rinsed and patted dry
2 cups plain yogurt
1 ½ cups granola
2-3 Tbsp maple syrup

In a small bowl, combine yogurt with maple syrup.

Using 4 dessert cups, parfait glasses or ramekins, layer berries, yogurt and granola into each.

German Apple Pancakes

4 eggs
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large tart apple – peeled, cored and sliced

In a large bowl, blend eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Gradually mix in milk, stirring constantly. Add vanilla, melted butter and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Let batter stand for 30 minutes or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Melt butter in a 10 inch oven proof skillet, brushing butter up on the sides of the pan. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Sprinkle mixture over the butter. Line the pan with apple slices. Sprinkle remaining sugar over apples. Place pan over medium-high heat until the mixture bubbles, then gently pour the batter mixture over the apples.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes. Slide pancake onto serving platter and cut into wedges.

Check back next week for more kid-friendly recipes from Chef Holly! 

Looking for some extra fun and family-friendly meals in your Just Add Cooking box? Just Add Cooking meals are totally customizable – you can always leave out any ingredients or choose from seven recipes to find the ones that your kids will like. Plus, look for the spicy pepper next to recipes that indicates they might be a bit too hot for little palates.

Tomato Tips from Red Fire Farm

Tomatoes are some of summer’s best treats. While they’re available all year round in grocery stores, the short window that they’re in season here in New England is by far the best they taste. You’ve only got a few weeks, so how do you capitalize on the bounty of tomatoes at farmer’s markets here in the Boston area? We checked in with our friend Sarah Voiland at Red Fire Farm for her tips on making the most of tomato season.

tomatoes red fire farm

JAC: Let’s talk tomatoes. Most of us are used to seeing them year-round at the grocery store, but now’s the time to hit the farmer’s market to get some while they’re in season. What’s the difference between off-season tomatoes and what we can find locally right now?

Sarah: Since starting farming, I pretty much don’t eat tomatoes out of season anymore. What you can get from a locally vine-ripened tomato is worth the wait. The mealy, bland winter tomatoes look pretty, but that’s not where it’s at! I want a tomato with some juice and flavor. Most tomatoes in stores are varieties not built for flavor, but built to travel long distances and ripen on the trucks. So they’re harvested green and don’t have well-developed flavor profiles, and that’s why you often get the grainy texture issues.

When you grow the tomato in the ground (as opposed to hydroponically) and let it ripen fully on the vine, you can get the best flavor – but you then have a tender fruit prone to bruising and cracking that just can’t travel well. That’s why buying tomatoes from local stands is your best bet for flavor. In late July in Massachusetts you will start to see the first field-ripened tomatoes coming to stands – cherry tomatoes and early red slicers. As you get into August and beyond, more of the heirlooms ripen.

JAC: How long does tomato season last in New England?

Sarah: Once it gets going in late July, tomato season will be with us until the fall frost, which comes around early to late October. Some recent years in our area have had shorter seasons because of the now prevalent Late Blight disease that kills off tomato plants, so we are never quite sure how long they will be abundant anymore.

JAC: What kinds of tomatoes will we see? Any recommendations for varieties that are tougher to come by, that we should purchase if we ever see?

Sarah: The breadth of variety of tomatoes is truly astounding. At Red Fire Farm, we grow over 150 types, and that’s just a selection of what’s out there. You can find tomatoes in a rainbow of colors from yellow and green to purple and chocolatey brown. We have field and taste tested them every year and over time picked out our favorites. Some of the best for taste are Green Zebra, a little green tomato with green striations and a yellow blush when ripe. Brandywine, which is a pink beefsteak type, has beautiful color and a depth of flavors that kind of take you traveling. Sungold Cherry Tomatoes ripen to a bright golden orange and have an excellence balance of bright and tang. Matt’s Wild Cherry Tomatoes are little cherries, almost the size of currants. They were found growing wild along a trail in Mexico and now they win contests for flavor in Massachusetts! There are many kinds and all are worth trying if you love tomatoes.

JAC: Do you have any recommendations on which kinds are best for which uses? 

tomato sauce recipeSarah: For tomato basil salads, my favorite thing to do is get a rainbow of colors and sizes, then slice them up and arrange them together, sprinkle a few whole cherry tomatoes on there. Then you can taste each one and enjoy the beauty.

If you’re making sauce, there is a whole class of tomatoes that are bred just for that purpose, to have more flesh and fewer seeds for cooking down into a thicker sauce. They are often called paste, saucing or plum tomatoes. Look for varieties like Plum Regal, Amish Paste or Federle. We have a recipe for how to make big batches of canned tomato sauce here on our recipes page: http://redfirefarm.com/recipes/preserves.html

At the farm, we grow a couple tomato varieties that are especially perfect for stuffing, and you’ll find that they have empty chambers in the middle like a pepper. Cherry tomatoes are very easy to add to salads and keep on hand for snacks. For sandwiches, I like a tomato that can be the feature, so I look for a variety with a lot of flavor and a good-sized slice. Striped German, a later season type, is so big you can cut one slice and It will cover the bread!

JAC: Many of us are going to run out and buy a boatload of tomatoes before they’re gone for the season. What are your recommendations for storing them fresh so they last longer, and do you have any recommendations for preserving them if we over-buy?

Tomatoes should never be refrigerated – they lose flavor and change texture when chilled. Store out of the sun in a coolish spot, ideally 55 degrees, though kitchen counters are fine. There are a plethora of ways to save your tomatoes for future eating, from making sauces to freeze or can, to roasting them in the oven. Roasting is one of my favorite methods of preserving – you slice them about ¾ inch thick, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast in the oven at 325 degrees until the edges start to caramelize. Then freeze. If you have no time and a bunch of tomatoes about to go past, you can stick them whole in the freezer and thaw to make sauce later.

JAC: I hear that Red Fire Farms celebrates these fleeting gems with a Tomato Festival each summer. Can you give us some information about that?

Every August in the peak of tomato season we hold a tasting of over 100 varieties of organic tomatoes. A big farm festival has built up around that core idea, with chef demos of recipes, workshops on making sauce and other skills, wild edible walks, a 5K fun run through the farm fields, tons of vendors with things like roasted sweet corn and wood-fired pizza, live music, Pick Your Own tomatoes and more. This year we have Erin McKeown and Her Fine Parade Coming to Play.

The festival will be held on Saturday, August 2 from 12-6 pm. Read more on our website at http://redfirefarm.com/news/tomatofestival.html

Runners and walkers can register for the 5K through the farm fields here: http://redfireform.com/formstack.com/forms/tomato_trot_5k_registration_form

For making sauce and salsa in bigger batches, we offer bulk orders and half bushels of tomatoes in late August here: http://redfirefarm.com/farmers_markets/bulkorders.html

We hope to see you out at the farm in peak tomato season!

 

Meet Megan Gerber, Just Add Cooking’s New Dietitian

meal kit box ingredientsIf you’re a Just Add Cooking subscriber, or you’ve even had a peek at our recipes, it’s pretty clear we have a serious emphasis on flavor and putting delicious meals on the table every night. But providing dinner to our customers is about more than ensuring it tastes good: we take very seriously the importance of a balanced meal with high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients from New England farms and vendors.

To that end, we’re happy to introduce Registered Dietitian Megan Gerber, who is rigorously evaluating Just Add Cooking meals for nutritional balance and helping us with a very exciting advancement for those with dietary restrictions. In fact, Megan was instrumental in assisting us with gluten-free designations for our recipes. Today, we asked Megan a few questions to give you a better sense of the nutritional evaluation that each Just Add Cooking recipe is undergoing.

JAC: Tell us a little about your background.

Megan: I got my dietetic degree at the University of Connecticut and live and work in Boston. My full-time job is as a Clinical Dietitian at Carney Hospital in Dorchester. On a personal note, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease two years ago, so I have a background in understanding food safety and dietary restrictions as well as general nutrition and am particularly passionate about the gluten-free designation process that we underwent when evaluating Just Add Cooking’s recipes.

JAC: What drew you to the Just Add Cooking approach?

just add cooking dietitianMegan: Many people’s diets are deficient in fresh produce and whole foods. Just Add Cooking is a great solution to this issue. I love that they’re getting people back in the kitchen and cooking, making them aware of how to use ingredients and how to incorporate many fresh foods into their diets. 

JAC: What’s the process you undergo in checking Just Add Cooking recipes for nutritional balance?

Megan: I combine my perspective on a balanced meal with the Just Add Cooking culinary team’s approach. The main goal for Just Add Cooking is bringing people together in the kitchen, helping them to cook for themselves as opposed to takeout or convenience fields, which is a huge step in the right direction health-wise. Just Add Cooking focuses on healthy, family-friendly meals.

When I look at the recipes, I combine the recommended daily values for the macronutrients in the dish with the My Plate example, which suggests that your plate should be ½ produce, ¼ grains and ¼ protein. My focus is on ensuring there are plenty of vegetables, produce and lean proteins in the meals and keeping an eye on fat and saturated fat contents.

Keep an eye out on the Just Add Cooking recipes for Megan’s commentary in the future, and check out our NEW Gluten-Free Recipes by looking for the green GF that appears in your meal planner!