OPB’s “Superabundant” explores the stories behind the foods of the Pacific Northwest with videos, articles and this weekly newsletter. To keep you sated between episodes, Heather Arndt Anderson, a Portland-based culinary historian, food writer and ecologist, highlights different aspects of the region’s food ecosystem. This week she offers a recipe for pozole verde using many things from the garden.
It’s that exquisite time of the growing season, when the best of late-summer produce is going strong as we wait for the abundance of the September harvest season. This week’s recipe makes the most of all of these, showcasing the summer squash, corn, tomatillos and chiles of late summer, along with a wildcard ingredient that you might not be familiar with — it’s a tall, bushy Mexican herb that imparts a complex, slightly peppery (some might say root beer-like) aroma to the pozole. Do you know what it is? Read on to find out!
A delightfully stinky celebration, a listeriosis outbreak, one supermarket to rule them all and good things in gardens and markets
Freshly picked morsels from the Pacific Northwest food universe:
Elephant Garlic Festival
The Elephant Garlic Festival in North Plains, Oregon, may not draw the crowds once seen by the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California (which ceased permanently last year after 43 years in operation), but thousands still flock to the Northwest to celebrate the largest form of the stinking rose. Listen to OPB’s coverage of the 25th annual Elephant Garlic Festival.
Deadly listeriosis outbreak linked to Northwest milkshakes
Milkshakes served at Frugals burger restaurant in Tacoma, Washington, earlier this month have been linked to six cases of listeriosis, resulting in three hospitalizations and three deaths. Read NPR’s coverage of the tragedy.
Kroger and Albertsons still trying to make a supermarket sweep
The two largest supermarket chains in the Northwest, Kroger (which owns Fred Meyer and QFC) and Albertsons (which owns Safeway) are proposing to merge, drawing protest from seven different secretaries of state. OregonLive’s Beat Check podcast weighs in on what the merger could mean for Oregonians.
In the “Superabundant” garden this week
With apologies to anyone who’s walked past the “Superabundant” garden this week, ripe apples are falling in droves, littering the street and sidewalk. (The apples, old-fashioned McIntoshes, will be collected this weekend and turned to sauce and dried apple rings.) We’re pickling a couple quarts of White Sun cucumbers every week, and seeing tons of peppers — the Korean varieties are still going strong and we’re getting the first sweet Italian peppers too.
Zucchini, tomatillos and ground cherries (Physalis) are steadily producing, and the winter squashes (Petite Buttercup and Violina di Rugosa, both grown from seed saved from squashes we ate) are growing vigorously and blooming like mad.
The Gherking pickling cucumbers have been looking a bit peaked, so we gave them a fresh helping of chicken manure and bone meal to push them through the rest of the season.
After last year’s spotted wing Drosophila infestation, we cut our blackberry canes back pretty hard in the winter. As a result, the fruit on the Chesters have been meager and late to set but we finally did harvest our first pint and huzzah! They’re bug-free. Between the aggressive pruning and the late heat wave, alas, the loganberry has not been as forgiving.
Good things in markets
We’re in the absolute thick of it now, seeing the prime of the summer season and the first glimpses of next month’s harvest season. Peaches are still extremely good right now, and plums are steadily trickling in, as are the first Bartlett pears coming out of the Mid-Columbia and Rogue Valley. Get your green beans now — whatever you don’t eat in a Salade Niçoise you can blanch and freeze or turn into spicy pickles. Get the last of the blackberries, blueberries and short-season stone fruit hybrids like pluots and pluerries while you can, or luxuriate in the hedonia of melon and tomato season.
Summer steelhead will be making way for their winter brethren and sistren, and albacore are still going strong in marine waters.
Recipe: Pozole verde from the garden
Some “green” versions of foods are strictly for spring — green borscht and Hessian Grüne Soße come to mind — but this Mexican soup is an absolute celebration of the best of summer. Golden tomatillos, zucchini, chiles and chewy hominy (nixtamalized corn) each shine through, and fresh herbs like cilantro and hoja santa give it an aromatic punch. For the uninitiated, hoja santa, aka Mexican pepper leaf, is a bushy Mexican herb in the peppercorn family (Piperaceae) whose leaves have a grassy, slightly sweet anise-y root beer aroma. Look for it either dried or preferably fresh at specialty stores and Latin markets like Los Paniaguitas in Woodburn (the store sometimes sells the live plants too, which can be grown on the patio in the summer and kept indoors over the cold seasons). This version uses shredded turkey breast, but you can use chicken, pork, or leave out the meat entirely — the hominy and toppings are the main point. Serves 6-8.
2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1 lb tomatillos, husked, washed and halved
½ large white onion, diced
4 medium-sized green chiles, as mild or hot as you like (a mix of poblanos, Hatch and/or jalapeños is great)
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 qts (8 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
2 lbs skinless boneless turkey tenders, chicken breast or chicken thighs
6 cups cooked hominy (or 2 25-oz cans, drained)
1 medium-sized zucchini, diced
1-2 tbsp sea salt, to taste (depending on if you use store-bought or homemade broth)
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seed
2 tbsp dried Mexican oregano
2 fresh hoja santa leaves or 2 tbsp dried and crushed
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
Shredded green cabbage
Chopped fresh cilantro
Fresh lime wedges
Sliced onions or scallions
- Drizzle a roasting pan with 1 tablespoon of the oil, then place the tomatillos cut-side down on the pan along with the diced onions and seeded chiles. Roast at 400° for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables soften slightly and begin to brown on the edges.
- Place the roasted chiles in a heat-proof bowl and cover with a plate. Allow the chiles to steam for 5 minutes, and then remove the skins, seeds, and stems. You might want to wear gloves for this! Chop the roasted peppers.
- While the vegetables are roasting, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and sauté the garlic until fragrant and glossy, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add the roasted tomatillos, onions and chopped roasted chiles to the pot, then add enough water to the roasting pan to dissolve any browned bits, scraping with a wooden spoon — this is very flavorful! Pour this sloshy mix into the pot.
- Add the chicken or vegetable stock, stir to combine, and then add the remaining pozole ingredients. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce then heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally, lightly mashing the soft tomatillos into the broth against the side of the pot.
- Simmer the pozole until the turkey or chicken is cooked to ~160°, about 20-30 minutes. Remove the meat and allow it to cool in a bowl for a few minutes, then shred with two forks and return to the pot. (If you’re skipping the meat, this will also be enough time to get the vegetables tender.)
- Bring the soup back to a gentle simmer to reheat the shredded meat, then taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with your preferred toppings.