The Swede, his roommate and I decided to go in together on a full share of a CSA this fall. It started in the beginning of October, and now every Friday a basket full of farm-fresh produce is delivered to The Swede’s doorstep.
Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! When I talk about…um…produce …things!
For anyone who’s ever participated in a CSA, you know very well that it can be fun (finding recipes to cook new and funky vegetables that you otherwise never would have tried), but it can also be holypantsFRUSTRATING (getting the same new and funky vegetables week after week because, Hey! They’re in SEASON! And that’s the POINT of a CSA!) (GAH!) Our shares have been dominated by leafy greens and incredibly phallic-looking turnips, which we’ve been pretty decent about eating in a timely fashion. Well, the greens, anyway. I will sautee the shit out of greens in a little olive oil and garlic and toss them with some pasta and waah-laaah, dinner! Or lunch! Or whatever! The turnips, we’ve found, are great when mashed in with potatoes, and, according to The Swede’s roommate, very tasty when roasted. And even though we’ve eaten quite a few of them, the refrigerator is still overflowing with the damn things. It’s like when we put them in the crisper drawer they take full advantage of their phallic shape and just start multiplying in there.
Turnips: the rabbits of the vegetable patch.
But whatever, we eat them. And we like them.
One of the really great things about a CSA is that since the veggies are picked on the farm LIT-trally that day, they last a shit of a lot longer than veggies you buy at the store. Which is both good and bad, really. Because if you’re having a crazy week where maybe you’re not eating at home a lot, no problem—they’ll still be good when you get to them a week later. But on the other hand, those motherfucking eggplants mock me every time I open the refrigerator. Jerks.
(Did I just call an eggplant a jerk?)
(Yeah. Huh. Sure did.)
In those first few halcyon weeks of the fresh farm produce I still had enthusiasm and ideas for eggplant. They might jeer at me now, but there was a time. Oh, yes there was a time. There was a time when I had the upper hand, me vs. the eggplant. I wasn’t worried about the eggplant.
It was the tomatillos that gave me pause.
Especially after three weeks of more and more of those suckers sitting in the bottom of the produce basket. The three of us would just sort of look at them quizzically, trying to drum up something to do with them that didn’t involve making them into salsa verde. We talked a lot about the tomatillos, and half-heartedly I researched recipes for them, but ultimately, those little green buddies got thrown in the fridge with the other vegetables. And most of them are still sitting there.
Unlike the eggplants, however, the tomatillos do not mock me. They simply stare back at me, saddened as to why we won’t eat them.
They are sad tomatillos.
(Which is nothing like a sad tomato, in case you were wondering.)
(And you probably weren’t. Because unless you are The Swede or Beh-Beh, you are not even going to get that reference.)
The few that have been eaten have been eaten by me. Because I (wait for it)…slice them up and sautee them in garlic and olive oil. And then (wait for it)…toss them with pasta. And maybe some (waaait for it)…chicken.
What? It’s not my fault that God created the amazing taste sensation that is pasta with chicken and sauteed vegetables. You got a problem with it, take it up with Him. In the meantime, it’s my go-to dish with just about any vegetable you can think of.
In fact, just the other afternoon, after a breakfast of half of a colossal Boston crème donut and a pastrami, provolone and egg bagel sandwich, I was craving something somewhat more…grounded in health, and cooked up some whole wheat pasta and spying the tomatillos looking up at me pitifully from their spot on the shelf, grabbed a handful and set to work peeling the papery wrappers off a few of the little guys.
And they were sad tomatillos no longer.
In fact, they were quite happy.
And I was quite confused.
(Which is not all different from my usual state.)
Because tomatillos sauteed in olive oil and garlic and tossed with whole wheat pasta and some parmesan cheese? Is delicious. Like, really good. The tomatillos are tangy, and they were cooked to the point where they were soft but not mushy or slimy. The tang melded nicely with the zing of the parmesan cheese, and the pasta, well, pasta is always delicious, I don’t think I need to tell you that.
(Or do I?)
(Okay, fine. Pasta is delicious.)
Why hadn’t I gobbled up this dish many moons before? I mean, I had done this in the past, and I seemed to remember enjoying it, but…but…why had I let the tomatillos loll about the fridge for so long? I ignored those delicious, delicious green babies, and for why?
I don’t have a good answer for you, Interwebers. All I can tell you is that you should heed my words, learn from my mistakes.
And don’t fear—or pity—the tomatillos.