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Hot Pepper Hoagie Relish

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alex Jones drops in this week with a recipe for sweet and spicy pepper hoagie relish (for those of you not in the Philadelphia region, hoagies are our version of a sub sandwich). I can imagine lots of delicious ways to serve up this spread! -Marisa

Egg sandwich with hoagie relish

As a kid, I was weird about sandwiches. I didn’t like mayo, and I didn’t like tomatoes. My sandwich of choice in middle school was wheat bread, yellow mustard, and Tofurky slices, with nothing else.

Fast forward 20 years and my tastes have changed — partially, I suspect, because I now live in a city with a strong sandwich culture. Hoagies, whether you get them from Wawa or the corner store, are standard fare here in Philly.

And while I’ll still pick off (or ask my sandwich artist to omit) slices of sad, pink, industrial tomato from my sandwiches, I’ve come to appreciate the components of a good hoagie: slices of tender turkey and cheddar cheese, sweet onion, a ruffle of lettuce, just the right amount of tangy mayo. And those juicy sweet and hot peppers, which add a ton of flavor and set off the other ingredients perfectly.

When a whirlwind of late summer travel meant that I had three weeks’ worth of sweet and hot peppers from my Taproot Farm vegetable CSA stashed in the fridge, I knew I wanted to make something that would help recreate my typical sandwich order without walking the 200 feet to my corner deli.

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Whole Foods Market Field to Store Program + Tangy Eggplant Tomato Spread

Today, I’m partnering with my area Whole Foods Markets to tell you about their 24 Hours Field to Store program and to share my recipe for Tangy Eggplant Tomato Spread. This is a sponsored post!

Whole Foods Market 24 Hours Field to Store sign

One of the things I love most about living in Philadelphia is the amazing access we have to really great, local produce. I’ve been here for nearly 15 years now and have watched how the city has changed for the better. Between the farmers markets, CSA shares, buying clubs, corner stores, and merchants at Reading Terminal Market, it is easier than ever to get my heads on hyper-fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables that are grown nearby.

Local eggplant at Whole Foods Market

Now, thanks to a partnership between our 11 area Whole Foods Markets and the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, you can add one more option for incredibly fresh, local produce to the list. They have teamed up for a program called 24 Hours Field to Store. Certain products from LFFC are harvested from the field and delivered to all Philadelphia-area stores within 24 hours.

eggplant, tomatoes, and garlic

The featured item in the Field to Store program changes every two weeks. Last week, they were highlighting gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, and starting today and running through August 16, the featured item is eggplant!

prepping tomatoes for peeling

I was at the Callowhill store on Saturday, and picked up a plump, firm, glowingly fresh eggplant and brought it home for a little experimentation. Knowing that eggplant is a low acid vegetable, I had to be careful when developing a recipe using it that would eventually go into a jar.

simmering eggplant and tomatoes in red wine vinegar

After doing a bit of research, I decided to make a highly acidified spread using eggplant, tomato, and garlic. I peeled and chopped the eggplant, and cooked it down with a small amount of olive oil, a pound of peeled and chopped tomatoes, three cloves of minced garlic, and a full 1 1/2 cups of red wine vinegar.

tangy eggplant and tomato spread

The resulting eggplant tomato spread is a luscious, tangy condiment. It is perfect on slices of toasted ciabatta or in place of tomato sauce on a homemade pizza. The yield is relatively small, so I plan on making more before eggplant season is done.

finished jars of tangy eggplant tomato spread

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next in the 24 Hours Field to Store program!

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CSA Cooking: A Trio of Salads and Dips

tomato salad

This month’s Philly Foodworks share arrived during an intensely busy week. My mom was in town, we were prepping for the family wedding, and soon after, I was on my way out of town. I did my best to make quick work of the most perishable things and these three little dishes were the results.

First up is this tomato mint salad. We typically pair tomatoes with basil, but they go awfully well with mint as too. This particular salad contained one large heirloom tomato, half a finely chopped white onion, and a generous fistful of torn mint. The dressing was a big pinch of kosher salt, four turns of the pepper grinder, and a few lashings of olive oil (about two tablespoons, if I had to guess). Add some homemade croutons and it would be a tasty panzanella.

corn salad

Next up is this quick corn salad. It consisted of six lightly cooked ears of corn (five minutes in a pot with an inch of simmering water). After a rinse of cold water, I hacked the kernels off the cob (saving them for stock), and combined them with half a minced red onion (you could also use the other half of the white one from the tomato salad above), and a couple handfuls of roughly chopped mustard greens.

The dressing was 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar, a teaspoon of kosher salt, and a whole bunch of freshly ground black pepper.

eggplant dip

Last one is a roasted eggplant dip. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking dish with parchment. Cut a big eggplant in half, drizzle it with a little olive oil and throw five or six garlic cloves (still in their wrappers) in the pan as well. Roast the eggplant, cut side up, until it is brown (maybe 15 to 20 minutes). When the eggplant is tender, it is done.

Let the roasted halves cool until you are able to handle them. Scoop out the flesh and put it in a bowl or container. Squeeze the garlic out of their peels and add them to the eggplant. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil, the juice of one lemon, and a pinch of salt. For a chunky dip, mash it with a fork. For something smoother, zap it with an immersion blender (that’s what I did).

salad trio dinner

We actually ate all three of these dishes together with Joy’s chicken ricotta meatballs for dinner, but any one would make a nice addition to a meal.

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CSA Cooking: Green Hummus

finished green hummus

I have really been putting my food processor through its paces lately. There have been multiple batches of pesto, a trial batch of whipped herby labneh (inspired by recent books by Cheryl and Maureen), and this batch of pale green hummus. It’s been quite the work out for my 40 year old machine, but happily it appears to be holding up just fine.

spinach leaves

This hummus was inspired by a need to do something with a relatively small portion of mature spinach that was in my last Philly Foodworks box and a desire to have something easy and good to eat for lunch over the next week (my recent dinnertime cooking hasn’t been producing reliable leftovers, which has left me floundering come midday).

peeled chick peas

I realize that hummus purists might object to my addition of spinach, but I love the color and slight vegetal flavor it adds. You could do the same thing with kale, chard, or even mustard greens (they’d make it nicely spicy!).

flecky green hummus

A scoop of this hummus, a pile of cut vegetables, and a few crackers make for a very good, easy lunch. I suggest you try it!

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Carrot Top and Garlic Scape Pesto

carrot tops

I go to at least one farmers market a week during the growing season. My primary reason for going is to buy delicious produce from kind people, but I’m also always on the lookout for something extra and interesting. I don’t to just want to come home with things to cook for dinner (though that is a necessary element). My eyes are also scanning the stands, looking for something that will either activate my culinary imagination or give me the opportunity to make a recipe that I have mentally bookmarked.

carrot tops in fp

When I spotted these carrots, they triggered memories of two recipes I’d long wanted to try. First, they brought to mind this recipe that Alana posted on Eating From the Ground Up last fall. I’d been meaning to try that pesto ever since I’d first read her tale of those special Woven Roots Farm carrots, but hadn’t come across really great looking greens. And those sweet little carrots? They were destined to become Amanda’s fermented gingery pickles.

toasted pistachios

This bundle of carrots was the last one in a bin marked $3. That might seem like a lot for a small cluster of carrots, but knowing the plans I had for the greens, it ended up feeling like a bargain. The vendor did ask if I wanted the greens removed, but the horror on my face stopped her before my words even reached her ears.

finished carrot top pesto full

I will confess that I paused a bit before deciding to write about this batch of pesto. I published a similar recipe using stinging nettles not too long ago and I didn’t want you all to feel like this blog was becoming all pesto, all the time. But truly, I am a lover of these bright, nutty, herbaceous pastes and make them all summer, with the goal of having about a dozen little green jars in the freezer before the first frost comes.

finished carrot top pesto

I find that having a small stash of homemade pestos in my freezer is one of the easiest ways to avoid ordering takeout. I don’t just use them for dressing pasta, either. A solo dinner of sauteed kale, a scoop of a warm grain like millet, and a generous dollop of pesto and I’m a happy girl. They’re good on top of simple soups. And a batch thinned out with a little vinegar, water and a touch more olive oil and you have a very delicious vinaigrette.

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Small Batch Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

a pound and a half of tomatillos

Back when this blog was a wee fledgling, just finding its feet, I posted a recipe for oven roasted tomatillo salsa. It was one I learned to make by watching a woman named Teresa (for a handful of months, we were co-workers of sorts). Most of the time, when I find myself in possession of a small amount of tomatillos, I make some variation on this salsa and remember those days when I was fresh out of college and still trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do with myself.

halved tomatillos

The one problem with that first recipe was that it wasn’t designed for canning. I’ve gotten more emails than I can count over the years, asking me whether it could be canned and I always had to say no. However, it feels like a hole not to have a recipe on this site for a water bath safe tomatillo salsa (happily, there’s one in the cookbook, so I’ve not entirely neglected my duties).

roasted

When I found myself in the kitchen with a pound and a half of tomatillos earlier today, I determined that it was the perfect moment to come up with a very small batch of water bath safe tomatillo salsa. I used the tomatillo salsa recipe on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website as a starting point and then adapted.

In the end, I essentially divided the recipe by five and omitted a few low acid ingredients. I skipped the green chiles and hot peppers with a single jalapeño that had been sitting in the fruit basket so long that it had turned red. I increased the volume of tomatillos a little to replace the missing chiles. I added a tablespoon of minced cilantro. And I kept the levels of additional acid constant.

Leftovers from a tiny batch of roasted tomatillo salsa. If only I had chips!

For those of you who feel uncomfortable with me altering a tested tomatillo recipe in this manner, I point you in the direction of this abstract. It details pH testing of tomatillos and reveals that their pH was found to be consistently below 4.1. That is well below the cut-off of 4.6 pH. What’s more, that study also found that pH levels remained in the safe zone when tomatillos and onions were combined and at least 50% of the volume of the jar consisted of tomatillos.

After roasting the tomatillos, I had approximately 1 3/4 cups of pulp. To make this salsa, I combined that acidic tomatillo pulp with approximately 3/4 cup of low acid ingredients (onions, garlic, cilantro, 1 jalapeno, and a little ground cumin) and the acidified with three tablespoons of bottled lime juice (my starting recipe used 1 cup and yielded 5 pints. My recipe was appearing to yield about 1 pint. There are 16 tablespoons in a cup, so I divided that by 5 to arrive at 3 tablespoons). My single pint of yield was more than 50% tomatillos by volume and contains a great deal of additional acid.

finished tomatillo salsa

The combination of the tomatillo concentration and the added acid makes me feel entirely comfortable processing this salsa in a boiling water bath. However, the recipe makes just a pint (with a few spoonfuls leftover for immediate eating). If you’d prefer, you can always just pop it in the fridge and eat it up over the course of the next week or two. Up to you.

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